TechInsights

Data is not the new oil, it’s the new water

Technology is the single greatest source of competitive advantage in the digital age, and data is a critical component. But how should financial services organisations manage data as they undergo business and technology transformation in 2020?

By Ian Murrin

04/03/2020

Technology is the single greatest source of competitive advantage in the digital age, and data is a critical component. But how should financial services organisations manage data as they undergo business and technology transformation in 2020?

Digiterre hosted a breakfast round-table to explore this topic with senior professionals in the financial services, energy and commodities, and trading sectors, where we presented our single view of the truth data strategy.

For most clients I speak to, continual transformation is the new normal – with businesses under pressure to increase growth opportunities, reduce costs, address competitive threats and manage regulatory challenges. Data transformation underpins most change but we face continuous increases in, and challenges with, data silos, volume, value, fidelity and timeliness. It’s critical for organisations to recognise that greater data accuracy means greater value. You certainly couldn’t manage your personal finances if your bank kept providing three different numbers for the size of your bank balance!

Digiterre specialises in ground-up transformation and uses technology to solve for problems with data volume, speed and fidelity, to create a single view of the truth – a unified view of your data.  Stephen Masters, Principal Consultant at Digiterre, explained how we architect data-driven transformation for our clients. Arguing that data is the new water rather than the new oil (an apt analogy these days given the importance of ESG!), Stephen brought data management to life for a largely non-technical audience. He explained the core principles of relational databases, Data Warehouses, Data Lakes, Data Mesh, and Lambda and Kappa architecture, and when you might use them. For example, if you want to create a single view of the truth across five different upstream systems with a 99.9% data accuracy target for MiFID II reporting, such as with the order management systems (OMS) of an investment manager, you might decide that a Lambda architecture is appropriate. Whereas a data architecture for a fund servicing organisation with upwards of 200+ systems, across global fund accounting, custody and transfer agency, might demand a Data Mesh approach.

There was broad consensus in the room that data is fundamental to the business transformation journey for financial services businesses, and that you don’t want to simply buy data solutions and endlessly build up legacy systems without actually solving the underlying business problems. Technology transformation should enable the right business decisions, achieve efficiency in the right areas and pave the way for growth. This is easier said than done. So, what’s the solution?

Transformation happens at the intersection of technology, data and culture, and most organisations struggle to achieve the right approach to this equation. Rajesh Jethwa, Delivery Director at Digiterre, observed that “life makes sense backwards” when you review projects, and noted that in reality, when you start a project, users don’t know what they want. The Agile mindset is designed to help organisations with this paradox by offering an adaptive, creative and resilient approach. It can help you focus on providing useful outputs as you go, in a pragmatic, iterative way, rather than waiting until the end to deliver something which may not be the right solution. For example, by adopting an Agile approach, and using multiple entry points into an organisation, you can identify day-to-day pain points while also charting and addressing longer-term strategic goals. It’s a great way to both plan and implement data transformation, in increasingly complex and uncertain environments, while staying productive and focused on customer needs – what Rajesh described as “build and fly the rocket ship at the same time”.

If you want to learn more or attend our next breakfast roundtable please contact samuels@digiterre.com.