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Data Management Reaches Tipping Point

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As the pipeline of information being generated or bought by financial institutions continues to increase at an astonishing rate, it has become essential to implement structures that ensure data is properly ingested and stored, and is accessible in a way that can fully realise its value.

“For a long time, firms have taken a tactical approach to addressing what data they need. Now data is being looked at as needing investment because it is fundamental to firms with regards not only to their obligations to supervisory authorities, but also in relation to the expectations of the clients they act on behalf of,” says Emma Kalliomaki, managing director at the Derivatives Service Bureau.

The implications of an ‘offensive’ approach to data management will occupy speakers and guests at A-Team Group’s Data Management Summit New York, which will be hosted on 22 September 2022 at Convene, One Liberty Plaza in downtown Manhattan, and see leading lights in the world of data management join representatives of major financial institutions to discuss pressing issues and emerging trends.

Panel discussions, practitioner keynote addresses and a fireside chat with John Cusack, chief technology officer at Yellowbrick Data, will fill the day-long, in-person summit.

An offensive approach

Data offence will be the backbone of the first panel session, which will feature panellists including Voya Financial’s senior vice president and head of data management, architecture and salesforce development, Julia Bardmesser. For her, data has come to a point where its importance can no longer be ignored, although she notes that some organisations have fallen behind.

For them, she argues, there is an opportunity to create stronger connections between IT departments and business managers. “There are a lot of data management professionals who understand the capabilities and power of data management, but building that connective tissue between the two, that’s where there is still room for improvement to open even greater possibilities,” she says.

Randy Gordon, head of data governance at Cross River Bank, notes offensive data management as an effective tool for driving business value, analytical capabilities and monetising data. It also enables effective response to regulatory change.

Realising benefits

The benefits of a robust yet flexible data management structure are many. Improved data quality will produce better actionable operational insights. Broader access to data will ensure teams work better together. Streamlined workflows will bring time and resource efficiencies. And effective governance will make regulatory compliance more effective and less prone to costly error.

Nevertheless, there remains a sense that putting the necessary structures in place would be too expensive to justify the benefits. That is a dangerous approach, argues Solidatus chief executive Philip Dutton, who calls for a ‘sea change’ in approaches to data management.

Likening the development of the discipline over recent years to the historical path that architecture has taken over centuries, Dutton says data management is at the stage where builders found themselves realising the opportunities in the materials they used, but lacked the expertise to harness them.

“We’re in a transitionary period where we haven’t quite accepted the need for a fundamental shift into analysis of data designs, and engineering,” Dutton says. “We want to build, build, build, we want to be agile and fast, but we’re not thinking so much about the future that we’re creating.”

What next?

Driving data management to this pivotal point has largely been the rapid expansion of regulatory oversight since the financial crisis of 2007-2008, but “the natural market of wanting to differentiate and stand out will be the real driver” of the future, Dutton says.

This is a point echoed by Dessa Glasser, independent board member at Oppenheimer Holdings, who says that the emergence of cloud and other technologies, and the complex interconnectivity of markets and economies, are encouraging companies to rethink their information strategies. “The data professional has had to react,” she says.

Companies that have realised the advantages of adopting a more integrated approach to data management are typically placing greater focus on the analytical tools that can be better utilised as a result of the structural change, and the data’s lineage. They are also ingesting a greater variety of data sets, both structured and unstructured.

One of the challenges preventing a broader acceptance of the need for a structural approach to data management is a lack of understanding, says Voya’s Bardmesser. This is evident in the lack of data management skills taught in MBA programmes, she says. “There is little emphasis placed on data and key data management concepts that you need to put in place to be able to drive growth,” she observes.

Solidatus’ Dutton is nevertheless optimistic that within five years or so, chief data officers will have fully adopted integrated structures. Pointing to the criticality of metadata – the information that gives data its context – in making data valuable, he says organisations will see huge benefits from an integrated approach. “This will enable so much more use of data for so many varied activities,” he concludes.

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