Issue 4 2021

4 Acquisition International - Issue 4 2021 News : from around the world Nearly two-thirds of financial services firms struggle to integrate data and analytics The survey also found that nearly four out of ten respondents (38%) saw ‘the need to integrate structured and unstructured data’ as one of the main challenges their organisation faces in ‘bringing analytics to data and using the combination to drive effective decision-making’. For financial services firms, closing the gap between data mastering and analytics capabilities is key in deriving insights from an increasingly broad range of data sources. In a financial context, structured data adheres to a pre- defined data model and includes everything from financial instrument terms and conditions to pricing feeds, while unstructured or semi-structured data does not conform to a pre-set data model and might incorporate earnings call transcripts and social media activity. It can also help gauge scores against ESG indicators. Another key challenge highlighted by the research was the issue of ever- expanding data volumes. 39% of data scientists surveyed claim ‘it is difficult for us to manage large data files and scale our infrastructure to the volumes we face’ as the main challenge in bringing analytics to the data. Mark Hepsworth, CEO, Asset Control, said: “Financial services firms struggle with growing data volumes that are often siloed in data stores and legacy systems, making access difficult. This causes a bottleneck when firms look to get a broader range of data to data scientists and decision makers, creating a range of challenges as a result including lack of integration of meaningful data and analytics.” In line with this, the research shows that many financial services firms across the UK, US and Asia still struggle with significant issues in integrating different types of data and being able to scale infrastructure to cope with ever increasing data volumes. Firms’ efforts in bringing analytics and data together are also hampered by inadequate data lineage and poor data quality. Nearly a third of firms (32%) don’t have full transparency of data lineage across their organisation and the wider operational ecosystem, while just under a quarter (22%) list ‘lack of contextual information such as data lineage that helps us trust the data’ among their main data management challenges. This can lead to a lack of trust and redundant data sourcing and verification. In the search for data quality, lack of a data catalogue leading to time- consuming data searches or double sourcing’ is the top issue, referenced by 28%, followed by the fact that ‘a proactive focus on data quality is hampered by need for ad hoc incident resolution’, identified by 23%. According to Hepsworth: “There are tools now available that can help firms identify data quality issues and proactively address them. More specifically, – increasingly there are solutions that enable businesses to explain the value and origin of data, trace data back to its external sources and ensure data lineage.” “And thanks to the latest advances in cloud, data processing and analytics, it is now possible to combine analytical and data management capabilities and use the results to maximise market data ROI and enable data scientists and other business users.” It’s no surprise that companies are committing to permanent remote working. The switch from office to home has highlighted a number of advantages for both employer and employee. For example, a Talk Talk survey found 58 per cent of workers to agree they’ve been more productive WFH. In addition, with long commutes removed, employees have enjoyed a better work-life balance, with more time for activities outside of work. Update home offices However, to help workers permanently transition to a WFH system, employers must provide a lasting work infrastructure. The fast switch to WFH at the beginning of the pandemic forced many employees to work from make-shift desks and cope with their temperamental Wi-Fi connection. While haphazard home office set ups may have been sufficient to tide employees over in the short-term, a better framework will be required for long-term WFH. In Microsoft Surface’s recent report from a survey of over 4,000 office workers, Work Smarter to Live Better, over half of respondents said that their organisation had not upgraded or introduced new communication tools. Furthermore, 55 per cent of employees reported that they had to invest their own time and/or money into creating a suitable home office set-up. Moving forward, it’s vital that employers take responsibility for providing a productive home workspace for their employees. WFH can hold a number of benefits, but companies making it a long-term fixture should evaluate how to best emulate an office environment at home, including a reliable internet connection, real-time communication and robust hardware. Communication is crucial Effective teamwork and communication is essential to a productive workforce, but this can be challenging when employees are dispersed over different locations. Smaller firms are often unaware of the communication technologies that can help teams to overcome these difficulties, support employees and better business. At Crystaline, we provide advice on the best business communication systems to suit the requirements and structure of the company. We’re partnered with a range of leading network providers, meaning we can offer customers cost effective solutions that deliver a competitive advantage. For example, our Unified Comms (UC) service allows dynamic integration of all business communications, such as instant messaging, email and video conferencing, into an easy-to-use unified interface. This convenient system assists businesses in achieving smarter working practices, helping to bridge the gap between office and home working. Our UC system is easy to integrate into existing infrastructure and provides a reliable service that helps boost company productivity. BP joins an abundance of companies in its transition to long-term remote working. However, to continue to enjoy the benefits of WFH systems, firms must invest in home office technologies to aid effective communication and maintain high productivity. Crystaline can improve your business communications to help your team to work from home more effectively. You can learn more about our service offering here: How to support employees working from home long-term