Basis for AI-driven automation

Rabobank is taking a quantum leap in its digital transformation with the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). Among others, SAP Integration Suite and API Management, components of SAP BTP, provide efficient and standardised access to data from SAP S/4HANA. This is crucial for the bank’s AI initiatives and process automation. 

Robotisation and automation are key spearheads at Rabobank. ‘We aim to automate manual and repetitive tasks so that our employees can focus on the complex thinking,’ says Robert van Uden, Solution Architect and Business Analyst for SAP BTP at Rabobank. 

‘We take the robot out of the human,’ Van Uden continues. ‘Tedious tasks? We can probably automate those. Hate it? Automate it. That way, we make work more fun, improve the quality of processes by eliminating errors and save on costs.’ 

Successful automation 

Within Rabobank, there are already several examples of successful automation. For example, a robot checks daily whether money for, say, a mortgage or insurance has arrived in an account, checks whether the description indicates where the money should go and, if necessary, performs the transfer. 

To handle invoice-related questions from suppliers, Rabobank built the chatbot Billy. Van Uden: ‘Colleagues were spending much of their time answering the same questions over and over again, such as “when will my invoice be paid?” That’s where the chatbot could take over some of the work.’ 

Help from AI 

A next step is to use artificial intelligence (AI) for new processes or improving processes. ‘AI will never completely replace humans, but AI can help and advise our employees. For example, AI can alert the user to a fraudulent invoice, after which a robot collects the information needed for further analysis. That analysis is then human work.’ 

Another example is the automatic enrichment of incoming invoices using AI. In this example, SAP Process Automation retrieves an invoice from email after which SAP Document Extraction Service extracts data from the invoice using OCR technology. This data is then analysed and enriched by AI/ML models in SAP Data Intelligence Cloud, which perform categorisation and validation. After validation, the system automatically books the invoice into SAP S/4HANA and schedules payment, minimising manual intervention and increasing efficiency and accuracy. 

SAP, unless 

Rabobank has a ‘SAP unless’ policy for process automation. In this, SAP S/4HANA is the ‘single source of truth’ for the consistent and reliable data needed for automation. ‘With a new issue, we always look at our standard solution SAP S/4HANA first,’ says Van Uden. ‘Then we see whether there is a service on SAP BTP that meets the need. Only then do we consider solutions from other vendors.’ 

Rabobank is now migrating to SAP S/4HANA in the private cloud in stages. For finance, the bank already made the switch, as part of the OneFinance project. Among others, Accounts Payable will soon follow. ‘We are not only migrating to a new ERP environment, but also replacing outdated interfaces, such as the one with our payment lane,’ notes Van Uden. 

SAP Integration Suite 

SAP Integration Suite plays a crucial role in replacing outdated interfaces and making data available to applications such as chatbots efficiently and in a uniform way. The suite provides standard connectors and components to extract data from SAP S/4HANA and share it with other parties and applications. Think of low-code Mendix applications that need data from SAP S/4HANA, or retrieving and sharing invoice information. ‘With SAP Integration Suite, you connect to SAP S/4HANA very easily,’ Van Uden observes. 

Rabobank uses several components of the suite. API Management makes data from the backend system accessible, applying mappings, logic and validation for reliable and consistent information transfer. SAP Cloud Integration takes care of ‘interfacing’ with third parties. Messages can be encoded and encrypted with a standard component, increasing security. SAP Cloud Transport Management ensures smooth transfer of software components from development to production. These solutions support Rabobank’s vision of automation and robotisation, making processes more efficient and secure. 

Want to know more about digital transformation at Rabobank? Visit the session ‘Rabobank about SAP S/4HANA Cloud Private Edition: Planning, Roadmap, Implementation, and Best Practices’ during SAP Sapphire in Barcelona. Saravanan K Nagarajan, at Rabobank Solution Architect Financial Administration, will share his insights and experiences on 12 June from 13:30 to 14:25. The session will take place in Room CC8, Customer Connect Center Room 8.3, Level 0.Rabobank accelerates digital transformation with SAP BTP