Monday, October 01, 2007

I would like some 'intelligence' with my data

We all know that generally speaking, banks have done a pretty poor job of gleaning anything ‘intelligent’ from the vast reams of data they collate and store about their customers. There are various reasons for this. Despite the promise of customer relationship management technologies, they have fallen far short of user’s expectations, which has not been helped by the fact that in most major financial service firms, data resides in silos which are not well integrated.

But with certain parts of their business becoming commoditised, increased regulatory reporting requirements and banks looking to leverage information in a more meaningful ways in order to gain a competitive advantage, “business intelligence” has not only become the industry’s biggest bug bear, but also its most significant opportunity to deliver value added services that make it stand out from the crowd.

Recognising this opportunity, the data hardware vendors have tried to up their game and deliver that little something extra. Some like Sybase have bolted on complex event processing technologies on the front-end to support real-time analysis of trade, risk and reference data. Yet, while these solutions show significant promise, they are lacking in “real-life” implementations to ensure they do what they say on the tin.

HP is the latest data management vendor to make bold claims in the business intelligence and risk management space. Following its acquisition of Knightsbridge Solution Partners, a Chicago-based data management and large scale data warehousing solutions provider, Hewlett-Packard has beefed up its business intelligence division and developed a “data enablement” platform overlaid with a business intelligence application layer.

HP’s new data provisioning platform, Neoview provides a hardware and information management application layer to facilitate optimisation of business intelligence in “real-time” environments. Neoview is designed to be highly scalable (it is geared towards large data sets in the hundreds of terabytes) and to handle mixed workloads .

According to Geoffrey Burkholder, director, business intelligence solutions, HP Financial Services, its data provisioning creates a new approach to how data is sourced. Instead of sourcing data independently from the same place, it sources the data once and all the relevant pieces of data reside in the Neoview platform, to ensure that everyone is using the same data so that they can ensure high levels of data quality and governance, particularly for regulatory reporting.

These solutions are not for the faint hearted or light of pocket though. In a deal valued at $4.3 million HP announced today at Sibos in Boston that Dutch bank, Rabobank had selected HP Neoview to service its business intelligent needs

HP also announced the release of its new Enterprise Risk Management solution, which leverages the data provisioning capabilities of its Neoview platform. Its ERM solution is designed to addresses all three pillars of Basel II and compliance with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, International Accounting Standards, anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer.

Given the transparency required by regulations such as SOX and IAS, Burkholder says HP’s ERM solution enables firms to ‘drill down’ into each piece of data so firms can more easily demonstrate to regulators what process the data went through to derive regulatory reports. For banks struggling with KYC requirements, which let’s face it is most firms, Burkholder says the data provisioning within Neoview means it is able to provide a “much better view of all data related to the customer.”

Well he would say that, but Burkholder is particularly confident about the capabilities enshrined within its new ERM solution as it draws not only on its own in-house expertise, including the Knightsbridge acquisition, but also includes input from a number of software collaborators including Quadrant’s data modelling capabilities, Informatica’s data integration tools and Microstrategy’s business intelligence and advanced dash board capabilities. Will be interesting to see if this makes HP a more serious contender in the business intelligence space

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