Data as a Platform? Wait what?
Data is an incredibly powerful tool for making better decisions that impact everyone in the financial services value chain. Clients, Advisors, Broker/Dealers, RIAs, Custodians, Fin-techs, and others benefit from shared data. Most of us already acknowledge this.
But first, we must deal with capturing that data, a feat that might sound much easier than it is. Creating a common repository for all of your firm's data can quickly become a messy affair. Data is typically scattered across various departments and held in the specific applications or 'apps' each utilized to perform its function. Combining and harnessing this siloed data is both the goal and the challenge.
Have you ever viewed data as a platform in the same way you look at software apps? Wait what? Treating data as a platform is not new. Companies have used big data platforms for years to manage and extract value from their 'data lakes.' You are more likely familiar with a 'data warehouse' than a 'data lake.' A data lake stores all your company's data in a raw, unstructured form, whereas a data warehouse stores structured data that has been formatted already. While a data warehouse may seem like a better approach, consider that data storage costs are lower for a data lake than a data warehouse coupled with the fact that data lakes are less time-consuming to manage, reducing operational costs.
Most companies still focus on application functionality and little to no focus on the underlying data when purchasing technology. Why does everyone start with the app first? Why not appreciate the value of the data that the application is built upon and make it an integral part of your purchasing decision?
The answer is that many companies have failed to realize that data is one of their most valuable assets and are still struggling to adopt the mindset of treating data as a platform.
Data-first-oriented companies have made great strides by taking a "data-first" approach to purchasing software applications. They've integrated their applications directly into their data lakes so that new features and enhancements are built on top of existing data lakes rather than creating disparate data silos. Each application extracts, transforms, and loads the data it requires from the data lake.
The promise of data has been enticing for decades; however, most companies start with an app-first approach by purchasing software applications that aren't pre-integrated or easily integrated with available APIs. This 'siloing' of data makes it difficult to get a complete view of your business and make better decisions based on that information.
The new way to think of data is as a platform—a central repository for all your company's information. Data-dependent software applications ingest, scrub, and structure data from the repository so it's ready for use. Data-first companies have embraced data platforms as an effective way to operationalize data at scale across the organization. When you think about your data regarding a platform instead of products, you realize you don't need to start with the app first.
At Forms Logic, we take a data-first approach. We know companies are struggling to utilize their data across their organizations fully. We constantly ask ourselves; "What do our customers want?", "How do we better serve them?" and "How do we help them operationalize data at scale across their organization?"
When we first set out to develop the Navigator Platform, we looked to simplify the tedious and monotonous task of filling out multiple forms. Our goal was to create an automated system that alleviated the most painful aspects of form processing while maintaining a keen focus on the data acquired.
We decided to build Navigator as a data platform so it would be easy to integrate with other software applications to ingest or extract data as needed. We succeeded in making it easier to connect to your current applications and allow them to automatically flow their data into any form on our platform through straightforward data feeds or API calls. Similarly, this and other data can be easily extracted for us in other applications.
Ultimately, your data is a valuable asset. We built the Navigator Platform from the ground up with this in mind. A data-first platform that collects data and integrates all your data sources can have many advantages for you, your firm, your advisors, and their clients.