Big Data Trends for 2015: Data Visualisation and the Cloud

In the financial services and treasury world, this is incredibly important because data is the business. The ability to make sense of these vast amounts of data, to identify trends, deliver swift decision support is what will drive the ability to navigate risky white waters of the global financial markets.

According to
a recent study
by market intelligence group IDC, financial services companies that take advantage of their data have the potential to raise an additional US$309bn in revenue over companies that don’t.

Of that total, US$131bn of value is forecast to come through improvements in areas such as people management, IT optimisation and regulatory compliance measures – including risk management and
US$96bn in operational improvement
. Knowing Big Data will continue to be important, we need now question how will it grow and evolve to better serve customers in 2015.

One of the trends likely to gain strength in 2015 is harnessing the power of Big Data through data visualisation. Reams of raw data are just that – data. It is the ability to drive business intelligence by delivering bite-sized consumable information for the decision maker that is the value driver. Data visualisation is the graphical representation of complex data in a form that allows the end-user – anyone from a chief experience officer (CXO) or a treasury decision maker – to analyse the data to make strategic decisions. It is important to have the ability to make sense of an enormous amount of data through easy-to-read charts and graphs with dynamic drill down capability. Strategic decision support in managing the ever present geopolitical risk and its financial implications is what has elevated treasury to the role of a strategic partner to the business.

The right data delivered at the right time to the right person in an organisation is money, particularly in industries such as financial services. For example, Microsoft treasury has real time view of its global cash balance by currency, country, counterparty and company code. The department built this capability using SWIFT, Share Point, O365 and SQL Server 2014. We can not only view the cash balance but can also initiate cash movement using ISO-XML 20022. These vast amounts of data drive business impact when delivered through Power View graphs.

When discussing the power of visual business information (BI), George Zinn, corporate vice president and treasurer at Microsoft Corporation said: “With geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East it was very helpful to see our exposures at the country and counterparty level on a daily basis, and when the banking infrastructure in Egypt stalled, we were able to quickly route payments through other financial institutions and still make payroll for our employees in the impacted region. We were similarly able to make informed decisions about counterparty exposure and investments immediately around the time that Scotland’s possible cessation from the UK was making news.”

Another Big Data trend of the past year that can be expected to still be pervasive in 2015 is leveraging the Cloud. It goes without saying that companies today need to have a global footprint – Microsoft is no exception. Customers exist in global markets all over the world, and it’s a 24/7 job to keep up. We have global data that lives in the cloud, and need to have the ability to access that data at anytime, anywhere and on any device. Office 365 with Power View feature in Excel provides that ability, and helps drive timely decisions and actions.

Tracking in Asia

On a global perspective, Asia comes to mind as a market that Microsoft analyses regularly. It is a high growth market for the company both for investments and revenue opportunity. We developed a cash flow forecasting and analytics (CFAR) tool to harness the power of the cloud and use this tool to understand cash flow trends and funding requirements for the company’s global subsidiaries.

In China, for example, it is possible to track cash in banks and any investments needed for growth in that market. Jayna Bundy, director of treasury operations at Microsoft, works closely with the CFAR tool and believes “the ability to get consolidated data in a central location, being able to drive visual business intelligence and provide variance reporting that helped us optimise just in time funding and to maximize return on invested cash.”

It’s important to remember that these components truly affect the bottom line. Data is vital not just for the sake of data, but because companies and their treasury departments use that data – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to make in-the-moment decisions that have real-world impact. This key data translates to success for an organisation’s partners, its customers, and the customers
of
those partners.

It’s also important that companies have the ability to access this kind of data at a realistic price point. Because this isn’t the kind of technology you just try once, it’s important that it’s a long-term affordable option, to give people the kind of quality, consistency, and accessibility they need. For the financial services industry, housing the big data in the cloud and having Excel-like user interface on various devices that allow you to drive visual BI analytics can be the key differentiator.

Here’s to an exciting 2015, with Big Data, data visualisation, and the Cloud providing us more insights into what makes our treasury world go round!

24 views

Related reading