Technology – the Currency of Success in the Financial Sector
In the finance industry, addressing top business issues can be solved with technology has become more difficult, as each challenge has varying degrees of urgency and risk. Unfortunately, many of these risks, to some degree are intertwined and all of them are critical in order to achieve sustainable growth. An organizational approach to address information challenges must be implemented to ensure enterprise wide capabilities are available. Moving towards this holistic approach across governance, risk and compliance functions has been proven to achieve cost reductions and process efficiency rewards. However, executives must balance information governance demands in equal measure with profitability goals.
In many cases, the focus has moved away from money as the ultimate currency of exchange and been replaced with an emphasis on information as the basis for products and services. This change is forcing financial companies to become more data-centric organizations and leverage their knowledge assets to revolve around the needs of clients not necessarily around the profitability of specific products or siloed business lines. Technology can no longer be viewed as a cost to be managed down but as an investment for future growth. Concept Searching’s Smart Content Framework™ , product platforms, and intelligent metadata enabled solutions address and solve content management and information governance gaps with one set of technologies.
Regardless of the specific issues, our clients including Allianz Global Investors, First Reserve, OppenheimerFunds, and Banca Intesa, share the same common goal – to improve access and utilization of unstructured and semi-structured content to improve business outcomes. What are they trying to achieve? Improving information governance, facilitating records management, protection of confidential assets, facilitating text analytics, improving knowledge capture and dissemination, IT infrastructure planning, and to some extent social networking applications and social media.
How is this accomplished?
The Concept Searching product platforms can deliver all of the above through the use of one set of technologies including:
The still unique technology transparently identifies the meaning of ‘content in context’, enabling rich semantic metadata to be automatically generated, without end user intervention, auto-classified, and managed, through highly sophisticated and interactive taxonomy tools.
What are some of the benefits our financial services clients have achieved?
- Eliminated information complexity and improved utilization of enterprise information, both internally and externally
- Provided a comprehensive approach for the management and classification of unstructured and semi-structured content
- Delivered information transparency, and provided immediate and actionable visibility of relevant content
- Automatic identification of documents of records and appropriate processing, ensuring effective content lifecycle management
- Automatic identification and protection of data privacy and confidential information, preventing unauthorized access and portability
- Eliminated manual tagging and end user intervention
- Made available the framework to deploy social networking and social media applications, integrated with information governance, delivering information on demand to employees, customers, and external stakeholders
- Made available relevant and precise information to assist in the identification of enterprise risks for assessment and prioritization
- Provided a cost-effective way to perform text analytics through data cleansing and the ability to retrieve highly granular information
- Provides the same functionality, regardless of whether on-premise or in the cloud
Smart Content Framework™
The need to leverage technology to achieve business advantages has never been greater. Successful organizations must reassess their operating models to include not only regulatory reform, but also competitive dynamics, evolving markets, and increased expectations from stakeholders. At their core, these challenges must include an evaluation of existing operations models and technology frameworks, to improve execution and ultimately profits. The improvement of business processes, cost structure controls, and the adoption of new operating models needs to be evaluated and, where appropriate, adopted.
The combination of the Smart Content Framework™ and Concept Searching product platforms delivers flexibility, adaptability, integration, standardization, and efficiency, to provide the operational framework at an enterprise level. Challenges addressed within the financial sector include:
- Implementation of a technology framework that enables the rapid implementation of regulatory changes, and addresses compliance requirements
- Improvements of operational efficiencies across different functional groups and geographic areas
- Integration of fragmented platforms providing a holistic view of content to obtain real-time insights
- Ability to identify, analyze, and quantify risk as it applies to unstructured and semi-structured data, embedding a risk management culture into daily operations
- Transparent compliance addressing requirements of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to enable monitoring and retention of sales communications with customers and the general public
- Leverage a large corpus of information through text analytics, to improve segmentation and cross-selling
- Identify areas of innovation, growth, and customer experience through technology
- Reduce the costs, time, and resources associated with eDiscovery and litigation
Concept Searching’s Smart Content Framework™ is a combination of technology and organizational staff that assist in defining the major risk factors and results in the tactical changes needed in business processes. The building blocks include:
- Metadata – the development of an enterprise metadata repository that is flexible to address multiple business challenges with one set of technologies and provides the ability to apply policy across diverse business groups, repositories, and applications
- Insight – improves any interactive metadata application such as search, eDiscovery, litigation support, text analytics, social tagging, and collaboration, and is used as the data to analyze and quantify risk
- Risk – defined by the firm’s staff to determine the organizational risk factors, and effectively identify and validate the specific risk to analyze cost versus benefit
- Policy – defined by the organization to implement and enforce policy based on the risk factors
- Action – fulfills the organizational policies, enforceable and adaptable by end users, and can be quantifiable and able to be measured
The end result is the ability to deploy intelligent metadata enabled solutions that share the same framework for information governance. Instead of reinventing the wheel for each challenge, with the framework in place, organizations can improve agility and business results more quickly and with less effort.
From an enterprise view, financial firms share common challenges, although many can be unique in nature. Specific to the industry, some challenges are outside the control of the organization. Yet dealing with them successfully is key to organizational profitability. To address these challenges the organization itself must proactively envision innovative ways to increase preparedness, and solve the challenges within their control. This needs to be done at the tactical, business process level through a combination of people and technologies. At the heart of many of these challenges is the inability to manage unstructured and semi-structured content in a manner that facilitates, if not solves compliance with regulatory mandates, cyber security and protection of confidential assets, extraction of granular information from fragmented platforms for analysis, and information dissemination through social applications to address multiple audiences and stakeholders.
What are the challenges at a business operational level?
Solving big picture challenges, comes down to executing day-to-day tasks through a combination of people and technology. At the heart of addressing the big picture challenges, financial firms must identify new ways to compete and manage costs. With much of the financial sector upheaval in the past, financial companies must now move forward to innovate and not stagnate.
The fundamental technology problems that impact the performance of the organization as a whole include:
- Search – a fundamental challenge that is the basis for almost all metadata applications that provides a holistic view of content, concept based searching, and aids in migration, records management, security, text analytics, litigation support, and social networking
- Records Management – inability to accommodate the human factor, typically responsible for tagging and processing documents of record and the most likely cause of non-compliance
- Security – inability to define vocabulary and descriptors, used for the real-time identification of confidential/data privacy information, remove the content from unauthorized access, and prevent its portability
- eDiscovery and Legal Support – inability to manage the escalating costs and risks surrounding eDiscovery and litigation support; information cannot be accessed or found because it is either mistagged or not tagged; and the time gap between information requests and discovery is directly proportional to the volume of data, and the longer it takes to find information the more costly it becomes
- Text Analytics – inability to reduce the quantity of information to be analyzed, cleanse the content, and find the precise information needed to make informed decisions and gain insight into content
- Social Content – inability to provide structure to internal and external social content applications that drive productivity, encourage participation and innovation, and provide accurate information to diverse external audiences
- Collaboration – inability to communicate and collaborate with diverse stakeholders to ensure all participants have access to the same, up-to-date information delivered based on their authorized access to the content
At the crux of all these challenges is metadata. In alignment with the Smart Content Framework™ intelligent metadata enabled solutions can only be achieved through the automatic generation of multi-term metadata, are specific to the various vocabularies and nomenclature of the organization, and serve as the foundation for any application that requires metadata. This enterprise metadata framework is then used to auto-classify content, and manage it through interactive, yet highly sophisticated, industry unique taxonomy tools.
Concept Searching technology platforms have been adopted by financial firms with the foresight to leverage metadata to achieve business objectives. Not restricted to just solving search challenges, the products reach far beyond to improve any application that requires the use of metadata and establishes the framework for information governance.
Solving the over-arching and often global challenges, changes are needed at the tactical level using technology, people, and business processes to solve these enterprise objectives, in order to reduce risks, costs, and improve business performance.
Below are the fundamental issues followed by information on how our finance clients were able to address their challenges.
Enterprise search is an infrastructure component, and the impact of poor search reaches far beyond the retrieval of information. Affecting organizational efficiency and productivity, poor search results can increase costs as well as organizational risk. A core component in all Concept Searching platforms is the ability to automatically generate compound term metadata, eliminating end user tagging. Identifying relevant content during a search effectively removes ambiguity, and enables the retrieval of information based on the concepts within, increasing both precision and recall.
Improving Search for 500 Investment Professionals
Operating in a SharePoint environment, the client deployed conceptClassifier for SharePoint to provide the framework for information access on its portal. The solution eliminates end user tagging, automatically generates semantic metadata, auto-classifies content from diverse repositories, and provides robust taxonomy tools to quickly and easily adapt to changing regulatory and compliance requirements. A key differentiator in the taxonomy management component is the ability to be easily managed by a Subject Matter Expert as well as an IT professional.
Regardless of whether you are using the SharePoint Records Center, or a third party application, records management and the lifecycle of documents of record are typically challenging in any industry, let alone the finance sector. The biggest stumbling block has always been end user tagging. With complex file plans, and the fact that human tagging is often haphazard at best, organizations can often unwittingly fall into the trap of non-compliance. The Concept Searching platforms, are being used to automatically identify documents of record, auto-classify the content to a taxonomy that mirrors the file plan and route directly to the records management application.
Improving Search and Solving Compliance Challenges with One Set of Technologies
To address the records management challenge, conceptClassifier for SharePoint was used to enable the firm to define a taxonomy that mirrored its file plan. It is now able to automatically declare documents of record as they are ingested or created, using conceptTaxonomyWorkflow to route to the records management repository for disposition. Benefits include the ability to automatically declare documents of record as they are ingested or created, providing the ability to apply lifecycle management to all content. This ensures compliance and regulatory requirements are met in a way transparent to the business user.
eDiscovery and Litigation Support
eDiscovery and litigation support is costly, time-consuming, and risky. Although the real costs of eDiscovery and litigation support can be estimated, they are often hard to determine, let alone plan for. The best defense is the on-going management of data to ensure preparedness. Unmanaged information carries a great deal of risk, as it can be used in unintended way. During the eDiscovery or litigation process, the same basic problem of finding relevant information occurs, which is costly and unproductive. Using the Concept Searching product platforms, the conceptSearch Compound Term Indexing Engine is licensed for building and refining the taxonomy/term sets. The engine provides automatic semantic metadata generation that extracts multi-word terms or concepts along with keywords and acronyms. These multi-word concepts are then ingested by the search engine index, delivering true concept based searching. This eliminates the need for complex queries, vocabulary normalization issues, and can direct the search via taxonomy search methods.
Litigation Support and eDiscovery Tools Crucial to Reducing Organizational Risk
conceptClassifier for SharePoint was a strategic technology solution that enabled re-use of the technology to solve multiple unstructured content challenges. Key requirements were the ability to tag unstructured content, manage the content through taxonomies, and have a tool that integrated natively with the SharePoint 2010 Term Store. An additional requirement was the ability to use the automatically generated conceptual metadata to provide intelligent migration capabilities from file shares to SharePoint. The initial rollout was for the legal department, where metadata is essential to successful litigation support and eDiscovery, significantly reducing costs, risks, and time.
Financial organizations must seek to adopt innovative technologies to enable them to develop an enterprise information governance strategy and the tactical processes that not only reduce costs but improve any application that uses metadata. The Concept Searching product platforms are being used by diverse companies to address the information governance issue. The technologies have been used to develop an enterprise metadata repository, improve search, automatically declare records and eliminate security exposures in on-premise, cloud, or hybrid environments.
Knowledge and Risk Management Deliver Insight on an Intranet Portal
Formed in 1988, a leading Italian banking group had the foresight to address knowledge management as a discipline and the means to reduce organizational risk. The corporate business division deployed the Concept Searching technology platform to build a knowledge portal, supporting the division’s analysis and planning.
The solution automatically captures and integrates information in real time, from Internet websites and internal sources, and classifies the content based on the concepts contained within the source.
The result is an optimized search engine, balancing precision and recall. From a business perspective, the ability to analyze content in real time, as well as retrieve highly relevant content, has enabled the firm to reduce risk and improve decision making.
The ability to aggregate very precise information from diverse sources and then analyze it can be invaluable in decision making and reducing costs. Data is machine driven, whereas unstructured content is driven by people, which makes the nuances, insights, relationships of disparate content, sentiment, and knowledge capital much more difficult to extract. Using Concept Searching products before analysis, the quantity of content can be reduced through an initial cleansing. Once the ‘noise’ has been eliminated, the ability to analyze the content at a very granular level produces actionable results that can be used to solve problems, reduce costs, and improve decision making.
Identifying concepts in context with a daily deluge of millions of documents
The deployment of the Concept Searching technology platform, and specifically conceptSearch, enabled the legal professionals, economists, and information professionals to quickly pinpoint and retrieve highly relevant information from millions of pages of content on a daily basis. Using multi-word terms to index material, conceptSearch creates an intelligent understanding of text within unstructured or semi-structured information.
For the professional user, sorting through several hundred documents, some quite lengthy, conceptSearch provides a synopsis of relevant concepts highlighted within the content. This enables the user to scan quickly, and spend more quality time devoted to providing analysis and insight.
Content Dissemination and Social Networking
Several clients in diverse industries are using the Concept Searching platforms to drive sales and reinforce their differentiators to diverse audiences. Concept Searching has been very successful in client situations where intellectual property is sold for a fee. The end user experience must be consistent and transparent, presenting the precise information to the right person at the right time. The ability to harmonize information and present relevant content to clients, or potential clients, can be a key differentiator in driving sales. The Concept Searching products provide the ability to transparently deliver content based on site visitor interest areas. This improved customer experience drives cross-selling, regardless of whether fee based or free services. The same concept based information aggregation capabilities are also being deployed internally.
Content can be aggregated from diverse repositories and aggregated to provide the end user a holistic view of appropriate information. From a social networking aspect, the Concept Searching platforms provide structure and a framework to social interactions by identifying much more granular information that typically would not be found.
Sensitive, confidential, and data privacy information exists in documents, scanned items, faxed items, emails, and in any unstructured or semi-structured content.
Why Metadata Matters to You
In the finance sector, a move towards innovation is becoming a requirement for success. Any industry faces both strategic and tactical challenges in regard to technology. Strategic challenges must be carefully addressed with a focus on the impact of sustainability at the tactical level. One of the key differentiators in the Concept Searching platforms is the re-usability of the core technologies to solve multiple content management and business process challenges. This provides a cost benefit in terms of eliminating separate solutions to address key application challenges, a reduction in staff to implement and maintain the applications, and transparent usability from the end user perspective. The flexibilty of the intelligent metadata enabled solutions can address search, eDiscovery and litigation support, records management, elimination of data privacy and data breaches, provide intelligent migration, document lifecycle management,social media applications, text analytics capabilities, and overall content management. The ability to leverage the existing infrastructure to improve these challenges assists the executive in addressing multiple issues and the industrialization of processes. An additional key component in the Concept Searching platforms is the ability to deploy in an on-premise environment, cloud, or hybrid environment. This presents the opportunity to transition architectures to next generation capabilities.
Information Technology Professionals
Regardless of whether you are a SharePoint Administrator or the CTO, Concept Searching technologies simplifies management of metadata. Integrated natively with the SharePoint Term Store, Concept Searching platforms remove the manual processes of metadata management, eliminates end user adoption issues, and aligns IT with business objectives. Installed quickly and easily, you can start classifying content in a matter of hours. Without a taxonomy expert on staff, the interactive, powerful, yet easy-to-use taxonomy tools can be used by business or IT professionals. Organizations can build an enterprise metadata repository and provide the re-usable technology to improve any application that requires the use of metadata.
In records management automatic declaration of records, elimination of end user tagging, automatic application of content types, and routing of the document of record to the records management application reduces organizational risk, and improves information lifecycle management. Concept Searching product platforms eliminate end user tagging, automates document workflow for storage, preservation, access, and usage controls, and automatically enforces protection of records integrity throughout the individual document lifecycle eliminating many of the fundamental obstacles faced by records professionals on a day-to-day basis.
Legal and H/R Professionals
Legal teams, litigation support, and Human Resource (HR) professionals all need quick, easy, and rapid access to relevant information. The key is to facilitate the search process and reduce unproductive queries to try to ‘find’ the relevant information. HR must also ensure that the organization protects the privacy of all staff and eliminates any exposure that increases the risk of potential litigation. Legal needs to ensure the security of content assets from unauthorized access and portability, before an exposure occurs. Since information is retrieved by identifying concepts the legal or HR professional can eliminate complex queries and through vocabulary normalization, ambiguities are eliminated and related content is identified even though the specific vocabulary wasn’t specified in the query.
Marketing staff provides a pivotal role in the finance sector. Responsibilities vary but the marketing professional may be responsible for sales support, product support, and all phases of launching and deploying new products or services. Using the Concept Searching platforms, concept based search becomes a vital tool to aggregate information either internally or from external sites. Through text analytics, the evaluation of trends and client sentiment can be identified. From an on-going perspective, social strategies can be identified to better engage the audience.
Compliance/Operations Managers, Professionals
Finance firms often cross global boundaries, and additional security and compliance mandates are critical to the process of managing the compliance challenges associated with unstructured information. Even when they don’t cross global boundaries, organizations in any industry are overwhelmed with regulations and mandates. The drain on resources and time is enormous, making it difficult to stay on top of changing mandates and multinational content asset protection. The value of the Concept Searching platforms is the ability to rapidly develop information governance and compliance rules that can immediately identify any compliance violations at the time of content creation or ingestion. These violations can then be flagged and automatically routed to a repository for disposition.
According to a survey by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 39% of financial sector respondents have been victims of cyber crime, compared to a cross industry average of 17%. This makes the organization highly vulnerable to internal and external data privacy exposures and breaches, where repercussions can be costly and damage the brand of the organization. The benefit of the Concept Searching platforms is the ability they afford the organization to define what is confidential information and should be protected, either internally or externally. Standard descriptors such as social security numbers, are included in the base product. The value achieved is that content containing the vocabulary or descriptors is automatically flagged at creation or ingestion and routed to a secure repository, made unavailable during the search process by unauthorized users, and protected against portability.
Business/Client / Sales Data Analysts
Business and data analysts include any professional with a need to analyze information proactively, to reduce costs and risks, to aid in the determination of unexpected process failures, or to identify new venues for sales and segmentation.
From a text analytics perspective, once the objectives of the project have been defined, the professionals can initially cleanse the content, remove duplicates and content that could and should be deleted, narrowing the content boundaries to reduce the data to be analyzed more manageable and targeted. During the analysis process, information from diverse repositories can be aggregated and concept based search ensures the information retrieved is relevant.
Knowledge Managers, Knowledge Workers, Collaboration, Social Content Specialists
The ability to find and share information, potentially across global locations, in real time, reduces the possibility of error, redundancy in emails, and locates the most current documentation. Effective collaboration and knowledge capture can also deliver benefits to an organization in applications such as project management, awareness of organizational knowledge, employee induction and training, expertise location, communities of interest, collective intelligence, and innovation management. The Concept Searching technologies provide insight into content; grouping similar users, concepts, and content together; identifying people with expertise, and knowledge or interest in a topic. The end result is consistent understanding of the value and context of information. It also provides confident cross-organizational decision support capability, shared knowledge, and the enterprise-wide availability of knowledge, to increase organizational performance.
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