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Adoption of managed data services – or data-as-a-service – is picking up pace as financial services firms face increasing business complexity and the need to be more agile, yet have frozen or reduced data management budgets. With pressure on data management teams to deliver data hungry initiatives, manage new rules and regulations, and integrate innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the need is to tap into the efficiencies of managed services.

An early poll during a recent A-Team Group webinar sponsored by SimCorp Gain, showed 33% of respondents have not adopted managed data services so far, with 21% adopting them to a limited extent and the same percentage to a reasonable extent, or a great extent. Just 4% said they had adopted managed data services to the greatest extent possible.

That said, when asked what benefits their organisations were gaining, or would expect to gain, from using managed data services, the delegates indicated real gains, with 38% gaining or expecting to gain some operational benefits and the same percentage significant operational benefits. Similarly, 35% voted for both some and significant business benefits, leaving just 4% expecting no gains.

Explaining the drive behind managed data services, Josef Sommeregger, managing director at SimCorp Gain, said: “Complexity comes at a cost. Since 2008, it has been tough to innovate at a reasonable cost and change data management programmes. The need is for a trusted partner to help, perhaps with data-as-a-service.”

Webinar speaker Gert Raeves, founder and research director at Adox Research, agreed the need to move towards managed data services, suggesting drivers include not only improved data management operations, but also support for digital transformation and customer centricity.

While the benefits and drivers of managed data services are pretty clear, there are often concerns about the costs and risks of early adoption, problems of integration, and a need for domain expertise on both the firm and vendor sides of a partnership.

Ruchir Verma, head of global services, investment management, at Zurich Insurance Company, which has worked with SimCorp Gain to develop managed data services, said trust between a firm and service provider is crucial to overcoming these concerns. Considering what a good managed data service looks like, he said it must provide reliable operations data and include strong change management, which can be mutualised for the benefit of many users. Service providers must also understand business changes and implement them speedily, and be ready to scale as required. Critically, they must have technical and business experts who understand client requirements.

Reflecting these ‘must haves’, Sommeregger set our SimCorp Gains three-pronged approach to managed data services including data operations, data advisory and change management expertise. He commented: “These are the key elements that confer benefits.”

For Zurich Insurance, the business case is not just about benefits, but also critical capability. Michael Kopf, chief finance and operating officer, investment management, at the firm said: “We need managed data services to make business successful. The collaboration with SimCorp Gain is not just a product on the table, but a service as we need it.”

Looking forward, the speakers concurred that adoption rates of managed data services will increase. Raeves commented: “This is a very compelling proposition, but needs to become a more proven solution.” Sommeregger concluded: “We have taken the first step towards managed data services. Beyond this, we are working on how to help clients with challenges such as analytics and sharing valuable data in a save way.”

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