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Why logistics are the key to becoming data-driven

1200px-BNY_Mellon.svg (1)Marc Rubenfeld, Head of Sales for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, BNY Mellon Eagle Investment Systems, discusses how an age-old process such as logistics - how we move things - can help us become more successful using data.

The buy-side is increasingly recognising the potential value of data to not only improve investing, but also operational decisions and ultimately the overall investor experience.

This recognition has fuelled competition, inciting a wave of transformations in a race to become data-driven organisations. However, becoming a data-driven organisation requires a logistical, rather than tactical, approach to data management.

Improved decision making and a best-in-class investor experience is ultimately enabled through evidence-based management. This means that organisations today are leveraging facts and data instead of relying purely on the gut instincts of their workforce.

This has been made possible by the evolution of technology, whereby today, the investor experience can be substantially improved by utilising and combining data in new and unique ways.

So, evidence-based management has produced the data-driven organisation, but what is a data-driven organisation? It is one that fundamentally relies on data to conduct business and optimise the investor experience.

This means a relentless focus on measuring results and continuous improvement, coupled with frictionless self-service capabilities for investors.

To achieve this state, the value of data must be embedded into the organisation’s DNA.

Embracing data

To remain competitive, organisations are embracing transformations to become data-driven. And – like other technological advances in the past – if your organisation does not embrace the potential of data, it will begin a painful journey to irrelevance.

Imagine a business that did not embrace electricity or the telephone; this is the same prospect facing organisations that fail to embrace data today. The investment industry is no different; firms are more focused on data than ever before as a means to rethink both the investor experience and how to perform day-to-day functions.

While data can indeed lead to better decision-making, it’s not guaranteed and – as many firms are finding – cannot be achieved overnight.

"...But what is a data-driven organisation? It is one that fundamentally relies on data to conduct business and optimise the investor experience."

Consider the quote attributed to General Robert H. Barrow, of the US Marine Corps: “Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” While referring to military operations, this sentiment is just as applicable to data management.

Becoming a data-driven organisation cannot be achieved through tactics alone. Only by focusing on the data management processes and the underlying framework – the logistical components that enable and promote a data-driven organisation – can the enterprise benefit from accurate and fit-for-purpose data.

One common misconception, for example, is that more data automatically leads to better decision-making. While this statement can be true, accumulating data for accumulation’s sake is not necessarily desirable and it very much depends on the quality and accuracy of that data.

Take the data lake as an example. It can provide a very helpful repository for storing unstructured data. Additionally, it allows users to retrieve the necessary analytics as needed, so this may seem like a logical step in becoming a data-driven organisation.

But while data lakes are extremely flexible, they’re just as susceptible to lapses in data quality. In fact, the term ‘data swamp’ has been coined to describe a poorly designed or neglected data lake with unusable data.

Becoming data-driven

Focusing on the logistics to facilitate data accuracy and implement robust, repeatable processes to get data to the right place at the right time is a prerequisite to becoming a data-driven organisation.

Transformations typically begin with aspirations of building data lakes and leveraging elastic computing. While new technologies can take operations from ‘good’ to ‘great,’ most organisations have to first become ‘good’. I believe this to be the biggest challenge in our industry, but companies can start to make progress using an agile approach and by focusing on their core investment data.

Just becoming ‘good’ is where logistics are so important. Traditional data management tools supported by a managed service can give organisations a high-quality core dataset to build around.

"At BNY Mellon, we recognise the importance of data and have long been the world’s only asset servicing organisation that offers a single tenant, end-to-end, investment data management platform that is hosted on a secure private cloud, while combining bespoke data management operational support."

Once in place, users can plug this high-quality data into a data lake or other unstructured data store so it can be merged with a wide array of other data sources. Firms should avoid the temptation to do everything at once and risk overstretching, and instead focusing first on the areas that will deliver the greatest value.

Furthermore, being data-driven does not necessarily equate to ‘ownership’ of the entire data supply chain. By working with independent solution providers, firms gain industry-standard capabilities that can be tailored to meet bespoke requirements.

Perhaps more importantly, these components can be provided as a service, which instills flexibility and helps manage costs, while facilitating future growth.

How BNY Mellon can help

Transitioning to become data-driven is a complex undertaking, and organisations that try to build their own solutions often miss critical pieces of the larger puzzle. Firms may be focused on some technical or architectural standard, for instance, that locks them into maintaining and running everything themselves long after that standard is out of date.

By leveraging the experience of third-party vendors and consultants, organisations can avoid some common pitfalls, while maintaining focus on the overall objective.

At BNY Mellon, we recognise the importance of data and have long been the world’s only asset servicing organisation that offers a single tenant, end-to-end, investment data management platform that is hosted on a secure private cloud, while combining bespoke data management operational support.

The Eagle platform has helped over 150 organisations globally on their journey to becoming ‘great’ by focusing on the logistics of data management.

We continue to leverage this expertise to develop new data and analytics solutions that will enable all of our clients to become data-driven organisations.

Marc Rubenfeld is Head of Sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa for BNY Mellon. He manages a dedicated team of sales and relationship professionals that advance new and add-on business opportunities using the BNY Mellon Eagle solution set. He drives innovation by working with clients and prospects to turn business challenges and opportunities into technology solutions for the marketplace.