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Banking and finance – the content conundrum in a post-Commission world
Mon, 27th Apr 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The financial services sector stores and uses vast amounts of data. It has become imperative to constantly monitor and evaluate markets and products, react to market forces with rapid-response offers and evaluate consumer sentiment across the web and social media. Customer data is integral to an organisation's ability to understand and provide services for their market base, trace a customer's purchase history and manage the day-to-day running of their account. This reliance on data requires that the organisation stores and manages all documentation, images, invoices and general files in a secure, accessible manner.

However, the digital finance landscape has evolved exponentially over time, from the days of mainframe computers and MS-DOS based systems. Technology has introduced ERP and CRM platforms, static Excel spreadsheets have evolved into data-rich analysis platforms, and customer outreach is now conducted over multiple platforms including email, web applications and social media.

While the technology itself has constantly moved on, in many cases legacy systems have been retained purely for the fact that they work well, or might hold certain elements of the organisation's data and documentation. In some cases, this may involve literally hundreds - if not thousands - of older and outdated business systems and applications that are retained in the company's technology ecosystem, often with work-around solutions applied to them. Content and data is replicated many times across the whole network of platforms.

Older systems may also have been enhanced internally by development teams, in the case where proprietary systems are still being used, or if the original software was open source. Low-code platforms can now be used to bridge gaps between applications, and keep technology functioning long after its use-by date, but the data that resides in legacy systems is often rendered inefficient, siloed and hard to access.

Since the Royal Commission into banking, this reliance on legacy software has become more fraught. Institutions must now be accountable for the whereabouts of their data, especially that which pertains to their customer base, and must produce it immediately if asked to do so. Audits must be able to reveal the history of all data and documentation, where it has been stored and who may have had access to it.

Suddenly, arcane systems that have been held on to for years with very little interaction must be considered a part of the organisation's technology stack once again, and included as a vital repository for content, regardless of how old that information may be, or how much of it the system actually contains.

Further to this, modern sales and marketing outreach conducted via social channels often contains unstructured data, which adds another layer of complexity to the observability and flow of customer information.

A solution that can provide a 360-degree view of all content, including both structured and unstructured data, has become much more critical than at any time in the past.

A robust content services solution - at the core of which is a content services platform - provides fast, safe and secure delivery of information to approved stakeholders throughout the company, independently of the overlying systems containing the information.

Integrating the content services solution with existing systems, and drawing from existing digital resources in place across the organisation, provides authorised users with instant access to the information they need – whenever and wherever they need it – from within the systems they already use every day.

Moreover, a content services solution can look across all platforms and see links between programs, therefore helping financial organisations understand where their content is held across all systems, whether it is structured or unstructured data. This way, systems are empowered to ‘speak' to one another, and the organisation is more accountable for the content they hold.

An advanced platform does not require staff to learn a new system, as it interacts with all existing core software applications. Information is indexed and searchable across multiple software applications, drawn into the content services system to provide a complete view of an account. All required information is presented in an easily-digestible format, no matter the data involved – images, mobile notes, documents, scanned documents, payment records and more.

Further to this, content services solutions save the organisation time spent on repetitive and manual tasks. On top of the 360-degree view provided by the system and associated tools,  intelligent automation enables many layers of manual processing to be removed, which streamlines the business, reduces the time it takes to action documentation, and limits manual keystroke errors.

In a sense, automation can be viewed as a means of optimising the experience that employees and end-users have when interacting with an organisation's information, by accelerating digital processes through the automation of manual, rule-based, and repetitive tasks where human touch does not add business value.

An advanced automation tool learns by recording how human users perform the process and then leverages a digital user (robot) to perform the process going forward. Essentially, this leaves employees free to focus on higher-level tasks. Organisations in the financial sector are using technologies like automation and machine learning to improve transactions, as well as processes like regulatory reporting, claims processing and document verification.

By cutting out the silos and shadow systems, financial organisations can increase operational efficiency and governance, while supporting processes such as fund administration, claims management, risk management and financial reporting - as well as the all-important customer interactions which remain the lifeblood of the business.