20160721_194751-1Big data continues to be a hot topic in financial services – how best to utilize extensive business information in the service of growth.  The holy grail is discovering how to transform bits and bytes into insight.  Our founder, Lenore Kantor, spoke with Pamela Cytron, CEO and Founder of Pendo Systems, an enterprise data services platform,  and  Jim Leavitt, Co-CEO of Cervello, a leading data management and business analytics professional services firm about how financial services firms can be successful with their big data initiatives.  The LaunchTalks Summer Social on July 21st was held at Workville to a full house of financial, technology and creative professionals across banking, brokerage, investment management and the broader tech sector.

The opportunities to apply big data are significant, particularly when it comes to greater client knowledge or KYC (Know Your Customer) – from identifying customer sentiment and new opportunities which can help sales and marketing efforts to enhanced risk management and controls that benefit compliance.  Addressing data quality and governance can save money and streamline operations, while synthesizing and integrating disparate information sources into actionable strategies can be valuable for traders.

20160721_184131Challenges of Big Data Initiatives

Among the biggest pain points that firms experience are duplication of information and redundancy which requires significant data review and cleansing.  Financial institutions with legacy systems often have data silos across different departments that segregate their data sources and don’t share, limiting the success of any new initiative.   Taking a collaborative approach can make a difference in realizing the gains of a large data initiative.

Our goal is to bring the data to life.  We are seeing a shift from the mega enterprise data warehouse to “citizen data scientists” as business users take more ownership – you no longer need to be a Ph.D to look at data. The marketing person needs very different data than the compliance person or the technology team.  The data we are being asked to explore goes back in time.  We are using those patterns to model for the future and can deliver results in 6 to 8 weeks.”  Pam Cytron, Pendo Systems

Driving a Successful Initiative

20160721_175641(0)Some common themes emerged for how to maximize any big data program:

  • Sponsorship:  Identify the key business problems to address and then identify the lead business owner who will drive the initiative.  Any data project requires senior level buy-in and commitment, as well as stakeholder engagement to succeed and deliver business wins.
  • Business involvement:  Initiatives historically that were led by technology would often be divorced from an understanding of customer needs.  Current programs that actively engage all key business end-users (from sales and marketing to trading, risk and compliance, as well as technology) are more likely to drive results because they are tied to real issues that can add value.
  • Accessing unstructured data:  New tools enable businesses to translate data from previously inaccessible formats (for example application forms that were in pdfs) into structured data that can now be utilized in analysis.
  • Agile approaches:  The quick win development methodology can be applied to big data initiatives.  By delivering incremental results within a few weeks or months, a business can see a material deliverable in less than 90 days which can generate buy-in for future progress.
  • Open APIs: New frameworks enable the data insights to drive client workflow changes.  Separating the data analysis from the front-end application development process can support meaningful solutions.

20160721_183319“We are seeing modern data architecture driving successful results.  Cloud-based or SaaS solutions can offer advantages to newcomers because the cost of entry has come down dramatically.” Jim Leavitt, Cervello

The group discussed some of the potential industry issues around data distribution costs and privacy which are sure to become important focus areas in the future.

“Having a clear vision about your organization’s goals will help make any big data initiative more successful.  It’s clear there are incredible opportunities for businesses that think through the possibilities and commit to starting.”  Lenore Kantor, Launch Warrior

For more information on future LaunchTalks events which focus on innovation, marketing and launching, please contact us.  We are planning future programming and look to collaborate with various partners on relevant topics.