Five Questions for Forrester VP, Principal Analyst: Issues & Insights on Compliance, Disclosures, and the Growing Role of Automation


To gain perspective on emerging trends and technologies, I recently had the opportunity to sit down with guest speaker, Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst, Craig Le Clair. The hot topics he weighed in on are those directly impacting the compliance, disclosure management and IT teams in financial services companies. Of tremendous value was Le Clair’s learned wisdom on the ways in which automation and AI are shaping up to play an increasingly vital role in meeting the needs of those companies.

As an internationally recognized expert in automation, AI, and the future of work, Le Clair is a highly-regarded research analyst whose insights can help marketing technology teams navigate an increasingly competitive, highly-regulated and complex industry.

We were pleased to tap his expertise, and are equally pleased to share this excerpt.

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First, a necessary nod to Le Clair, who serves enterprise architecture and business process professionals. His technology coverage areas include robotic process automation, AI solutions in financial services, and the potential workforce disruption due to these technologies. His 2019 book, Invisible Robots in the Quiet of the Night, has been met with wide acclaim. A prolific writer and speaker, Le Clair is frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, and many other publications and media outlets. Dynamic case management, electronic signature, and customer communications management round out his coverage.

What particularly intrigued me about his background is the history of his understanding of Artificial Intelligence and the role of automation, which is what informed my questions. Undoubtedly, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted processes and priorities for banks, as well. With robust historical context, he was able to identify key technology trends and ways in which the post-pandemic consumer is requiring institutions to adapt to this new normal.

Here are some of the questions he addressed:

  • What are the major issues in compliance Forrester is seeing in its research?
  • What compliance-related emerging trends should we be watching moving forward?
  • What are the critical issues with Disclosure Management?
  • How can recent trends in automation help? What are examples?

Excerpts of his insightful intelligence follow. I’m hopeful you, as I did, gain both perspective and motivation, both in how we address customer needs, and in how we put the power of automation to work in ways that are both resourceful and responsible.

qa 2On major compliance trends, Le Clair identified a growing desire for people to work for compliance and purpose-led enterprises.

“Outrage at companies that act in unethical ways is more common,” said Forrester’s Le Clair, noting that Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) compliance, as a primary example, is one of several aspects of a company that employees and customers now see as more important.

A key issue: data and privacy, Le Clair offered results from a recent forrester survey, noting, “The tension between commercial objectives and fair and proper use (of personal customer data) will be with us for some time, and continues to be a concern.”

To this end, transparency is critical, contends Le Clair. “Leading companies are revising language, and communication processes, to improve transparency,” he said.

Critical issues in disclosure management continue to be top of mind across the financial services industry, with banks, wealth management firms and financial tech companies needing to maintain regulatory compliance in all of their omnichannel marketing initiatives.

Le Clair discussed digital transformation within institutions, and observes that underfunding of legal and compliance teams hampers this transformation, limiting the ability of automation to support critical non-revenue related systems like disclosure management. This became worse during the pandemic, he said, as enterprises were forced to automate processes that supported
work from home and conducting remote business.

“Data management remains a critical issue,” emphasized Le Clair, adding that “Dispersed data that is stored in several various storages is one of the major pain points today.”

As a result of poor automation support, Le Clair offered this keen insight:
Digital transformation has largely bypassed disclosure management. Manual workflows, paper-driving processes are still prevalent. Monitoring for change events to allow disclosure reactions is not supported in many enterprises…Real-time reporting for visibility and control is weak.”

Identifying trends in automation, with examples of ways they are proving beneficial, Le Clair identified numerous examples which serve as a roadmap for marketing technology teams seeking to gain and maintain a competitive edge.

Streamlining the Know Your Customer (KYC) process is made possible with text analytics and Robotic Processing Automation (RPA). Further, with regard to basic automation to support internal compliance reviews, he offered this: “The use of AI, RPA, and text analytics to extract meaning from unstructured content such as e-mails and activity streams adds value to internal compliance processes. This can, for example, give internal auditors more avenues for research and investigation.”

When I asked how recent trends in artificial intelligence and automation can help the industry moving forward, he said, “The pandemic gave automation a booster shot.” Fueled by the need to conduct remote business and support work remotely, terms like Intelligent Automation and Hyper Automation caught on during this period,” added Le Clair.

“Fast deployment, clear ROI, pragmatic AI support such as text analytics, with supporting tools like Robotic Enterprise have been pushed to rapidly automate and become savvy in process improvement platforms, methods, and service options.”

The increased application of automation can also help with data integration that addresses disclosure management issues.

“A modern data integration strategy is essential to improve disclosure management. Data virtualization, AI-enabled integration, and support for real-time data becomes essential.”

forrester mockup copyLe Clair wanted to emphasize the high priority compliance areas to watch for when I asked what he and the Forrester researchers are following closely. Cybersecurity, the metaverse and a call responsible use of artificial intelligence in compliance were chief among the concerns. You’ll want to read what he offered in this regard, as it serves as a clarion call for banks. Take a look at the full Q&A discussion in this Discussion Brief here.