In the realm of investment data management, the ability to distil complex data into actionable insights is a pivotal factor in achieving success.
However, adoption can be a real obstacle to any data platform project.
Simply providing a trusted source of data is not going to convince a data consumer to jump on and use it. The conventional approach of relying on technical experts for the data management tasks, as well as report creation can hinder efficiency and delay informed decision-making.
The focus now is very much on the business end data consumer. Especially for those organisations who do not have access to large IT teams and resources for data platform projects.
To empower different data consumers / personas to become data-driven, requires the ability to provide various methods of interacting with a data platform.
Let’s first explore the different personas.
Data Consumers / Personas
When we look across our client base, the types of personas can generally be split into two core groups:
Preparation & Enrichment
This group (preparers) is typically responsible for the sourcing of data, validating it and ensuring that it can be used by the rest of the business without any data quality issues.
There are also consumers (enrichers) in this group that will utilise the core data to enrich it and expand on the data set with additional analytics.
Managers require access to day-to-day reports as well as the ability to easily create queries and reports on-the-fly to satisfy ad-hoc stakeholder queries, both internally and externally. It is essential for them to have access to a self-serve environment.
Executives look to access a mix of fixed format and dynamic reports, helping them answer the common questions they will face in running their business. These can be in the form of compact dashboards, or more comprehensive multi-page reports, such as investment committee report packs.
See below diagram for an overview of the different personas and sample use cases.
So, how do you empower each persona to help increase the adoption of your data platform?
Here are two key questions to ask:
Can my consumers find the answers they are looking for in the platform? In other words, is the data resident in the platform?
If the answer to #1 is yes, then the next question must be – is it easy for them to access the data on demand?
Let’s dig into those two points (and in particular the second one) a bit more.
Can my consumers find the answers they are looking for in the platform?
This often comes down to the ability to providing a trusted hub of data – aggregated from multiple sources, with an emphasis on the word “trusted”.
As your consumers start discovering the data available to them, they must have a strong feeling that it can be trusted.
This is typically achieved through a structured, automated process of data validation and quality control. However, it is important that the consumers can get a feeling of the various quality check that the data has gone through before they start using the data.
This is a much bigger topic on its own, and we will cover this in more detail in an upcoming article.
Is it easy for my consumers to access the data on demand?
Going back to the personas outlined above, the average consumer requires different methods of access the data to perform their daily roles and duties.
This means HOW they access the data will also vary significantly.
With decades of experience across many different investment platforms, we have found that to help increase adoption of your data platform, you must at a minimum be able to provide the following (in addition to the ‘trusted hub of data’):
No code / Low code Reports in Minutes
Our experience shows the most intuitive interface for consumers is a grid environment, where consumers can easily query data via parameters and slice ‘n dice the data via a graphical user interface. Consumers must be able to add columns / calculated fields, aggregations, pivots/charts and quick export to Excel.
Consumers must be able to build and save their personal views/reports within these grids, and make them private or public to share them with their colleagues.
This is typically how consumers like to interact with data in ad-hoc queries, when they need an answer and want to build a report in minutes. It also frees up your IT team's resources to do more value-add tasks instead of building reports for the business teams.
Embedded Data Visualisation (Business Intelligence)
Most organisation these days are familiar with the common BI tools such as Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and more.
These tools are great for bringing multiple datasets together and providing insights into the relationship in the data. This can for example be exposure analysis, ESG reporting, performance and risk reporting, liquidity reporting… all combined together.
Work with vendors that can provide templated reports across multiple areas. Reports will never be a perfect fit to your stakeholder's specific requirements, but a template will help fast track the build of these reports.
Easy connectivity to data that is ‘ready to go’.
Sometimes, a consumers just want direct access to the data as they are using an external tool for their core tasks.
This can be the investment analyst (see persona above) or quant who is using Python, R, Matlab or similar tools to enrich the existing data set. In this case, you need to be able to provide an open but controlled and validated set of data.
Further, you can make the life a lot easier for the analyst by providing rich report views that contain extensive data sets from your master data records, fully controlled and managed with accurate time series. This helps eliminate the often-cumbersome tasks of building extensive star schemas in their external tools.
In other words, if the data is ‘ready to go’ you are likely to see more consumers access it and utilise it for their external tools.
Data extracts – built by the business
You will often have requirements where a consumer will need data extracts.
This can for example be for the purposes of sending data across to clients, or perhaps you are building an extract to integrate with a new performance analytics platform.
Providing an environment where business consumers can build and test these extracts without the need of technical skills will again increase the adoption of your platform.
Hint: Make sure this functionality is tightly controlled and governed by your data team with proper user access and authorisation given to the business teams. You don't want to end up with an environment containing hundreds of various data extracts built randomly across the business.
Data platforms should automate the task of investment data management, and then empower consumers with easy access to the data (answers) they are looking for on a day-to-day basis.
If you make it easy for your consumers to self-serve on their data requirements to suit their specific needs according to their personas, you are far more likely to increase the adoption.
In short, make it easy for the business to do… well, business. And you will find consumers will come to your data platform.