Data & Analytics

11:15 AM
Craig Gorsline
Craig Gorsline
Commentary
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Unshackle Your Big Data

How new data storage tools and methods combined with analytics can deliver a competitive advantage in financial services.

Without context, “big data,” a phrase that has entered into almost every boardroom and earnings call in the last few years, is nothing but an empty umbrella term. Today’s big data is diverse and can be generally categorized in two buckets: unstructured and structured. Unstructured data are things like photos, location, your LinkedIn page, and Twitter. Structured data are things like names and addresses. Understanding how to analyze unstructured and structured data, and identify patterns, is where the real value and opportunity to refine competitive advantage lies.

In today’s world where cost of storage is cheap, more data than ever is being collected and more flexible open-source tools allow for deeper analysis and understanding. With the number of possible data collection points exploding daily, there is even more use for analytic tools. It is projected that there will be 400B connected devices in the world by 2020 – that is a lot of data. Everything today is now collected, and with the right understanding of its usefulness, data can be analyzed and leveraged for a company’s advantage.

According to a recent study done by Wikkbon, big data is projected to be a $28.5 billion market in 2014, and will grow to $50.1 billion in 2015. It is no secret that the financial community is sitting on a mountain of data. To truly provide excellent customer service, you must not only understand what your customers need from you today, but also what they will want from you tomorrow. To do this, financial organizations must have a complete understanding of their customer base. This is where big data and analytics come into play.

With more connected devices and data being collected than ever before, it is crucial that companies understand what information to look for, and how to utilize the relevant data that they find. By analyzing and connecting data, you can link transactions with a person’s mindset in ways never before possible. As companies continue to innovate and remove the burdens of legacy technology systems, the winners of this data arms race will be the ones that not only understand the need to unshackle data by incorporating robust adaptive tools, and advanced analytics, but by also being able to educate key audiences on how this data processing is at the forefront of their business strategy.

History does repeat itself. We have seen over and over, companies not keeping up with changing trends and buying patterns, and as a consequence either fading into irrelevancy or dying out completely. Blockbuster is an example of this. It moved to reinvent, but in many ways it was too late.

The competitive advantage of properly using and analyzing big data is evident – you can grow your customer base. You can understand and see trends earlier. You can pivot your business and remain relevant. Unfortunately, many financial service companies today are facing a challenge of being locked down by old legacy systems that are slow, costly to maintain, and unable to keep pace with the ever changing needs of the customer. Fortunately, there is hope. The past five years have seen an explosion of innovative techniques and technologies that enable us to grapple effectively with all this data in agile and flexible ways. A combination of big data storage, cloud computing, and data science are enabling forward-thinking companies to create significant value from their data despite the friction caused by legacy systems.

There is an opportunity, right now, for every bank and financial services company. Unshackle the data, analyze it using advanced analytics, and look at it in a different non-traditional way. Unshackling data can be a game changer for any company that chooses to do so. Ultimately, your customer will benefit with greater service options, and you will be able to achieve higher efficiencies in operations and service models.

Mr. Craig Gorsline has been President and Chief Operating Officer of ThoughtWorks, Inc. since June 2013. He is responsible for the business operations of ThoughtWorks across 13 countries.  Prior to assuming this role, he served as the Managing Director of The Americas at ... View Full Bio

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Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
7/31/2014 | 3:16:08 PM
Re: Data integration
I've found the opposite in some cases though, where an institution could take advanatge on the analytics side if only they could cut throgh the infrastrucutre complexity and silos that are preventing them from managing their data better and cleaning it for analysis. I think that once infrastructure complexity gets dealt with it will open the opportunities for dealing with new kinds of data, sharing data across the organization, and utilizing analytics tools to their full potential.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
7/31/2014 | 10:58:43 AM
Re: Data integration
Banks have learned how to maneuver the legacy systems/unstructured data issue, but have they made similar strides at analyzing the data they're storing? Craig suggests analyzing data in new and innovative ways, and he's right, - but can the supply of the talent, science, and tools keep up with the incoming flow of information? Can a significant portion of the unshackled big data ever be leveraged to create value?
MatthiasA679
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MatthiasA679,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 3:53:07 PM
Big Data Infrastructure
As Big Data grows in the financial services sector, so does the technology that runs it. Most recently, the Big Data industry is following in the footsteps of High Performance Computing (HPC) by adopting cluster computing methodologies, which brings its own set of challenges and only a few tech giants in the world can manage internally without automation. Read more about the obstacle of cluster computing in cluster-computing expert, Dr. Bruno's, article in Wired
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 12:40:44 PM
Re: Data integration
Yes banks' IT organizations have relied for a long time on legacy systems designed to handle strucutred data. Infrastrucutre has to be upgraded and new tools integrated to make full use of the unstructured and semi-structured data that is out there.
babugb
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babugb,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/27/2014 | 11:19:18 PM
Data integration
Financial institution have mammoth of structured data. The key for gaining meaning full business insight is integrating structured, semi-structured & unstructured data for unleashing its potential.
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