Devin Gharibian-Saki

Robots are coming to Wall St. and that’s a good thing

Just as they revolutionized global manufacturing processes, robotics are bringing their disruptive force to Wall Street, Devin Gharibian-Saki said.

Mr. Gharibian-Saki is the chief solution officer at Redwood Software, a company helping clients achieve a completely robotized back office through the automation of record-to-report, order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, human capital and the supply chain, with human involvement limited to those situations in need of advanced judgement and analysis.

“Since Day One we’ve been trying to automate business processes for our clients,” Mr. Gharibian-Saki said of Redwood Software, which was founded in 1993.

Devin Gharibian-Saki

In the beginning Redwood Software’s efforts focused on information technology but as financial institutions looked to trim costs in the recession’s wake a natural place to begin was in the back office.

“The objective was to eliminate manual activities of a repetitive nature that don’t add value to the value chain,” Mr. Gharibian-Saki explained.

The shift has its parallels to the Industrial Revolution, he added. Before the advent of the modern production line, people put the pieces of whatever they were manufacturing together by hand. Now software-propelled robotics do much of the work. That is how Redwood Software envisions the back office.

When meeting with a new client Redwood Software determines which department needs the most help. They engage management teams and look for any areas where minimal investment can lead to huge gains. Those areas are analyzed for patterns that can be optimized based on successful patterns gleaned from experience with similar industries or ones unique to the client.

Financial services offer plenty to analyze, Mr. Gharibian-Saki said. Many IT systems are self-built and come with more pain points. But that also means opportunity, as many of those pain points can be solved by readily available means.

Before it can improve, the industry first has to know what is possible, and that means solutions providers like Redwood Software have to educate them through individual visits, conference presentations and media placements. Once they acknowledge the possible, they can speculate on improvements at even a larger scale.

New companies tend to have the advantage of being more open minded to solutions, while older ones risk being married to a philosophy which may not be the best way to go, Mr. Gharibian-Saki said. The right technology must be paired with the best mindset if a company is to truly optimize through automation.

One other factor drives acceptance, Mr. Gharibian-Saki said.

“The right mindset is critical, and (automation) needs proper management attention. They have to ensure a willingness to change. Otherwise they are not likely to succeed.”

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