Most of our consumer experience today is driven by what businesses learn about us through digital channels. Suggested products, website banner ads and personal connection recommendations are all part of how we engage with online services and social media platforms. In addition, cookies allow sites to “tune” what is being displayed based on our interaction with the platforms and our history using them. Click streams, incomplete orders and location services are the “big data” we frequently hear about, and importantly, the raw material used to drive the relevant and suggestion-based experience we now expect.
Contrast our online digital experiences to investment management (I.M.) technology and you see significant differences. Today, users are interacting with I.M. systems in a similar fashion to how they started: basic workflow, keeping track of positions, and facing off with counterparties. There isn’t much in the way of platforms suggesting better options or promoting the use of new capabilities based on use or non-use of functionality. But, I think the time is right for a shift.Recently I’ve seen a few data platforms on the periphery of the industry that leverage advanced analytics to dynamically improve the client experience. Which leads to the questions: Are asset managers ready to make more of their user behavior and data available to technology partners? Can they justify sharing data with partners for the benefit of their organization and their clients?
Developing cloud native applications and providing access to tools and data through application program interfaces (APIs) are the hot technical drivers in the industry, but those drivers are focused on foundational elements, not the user experience. In general, I.M. tools remain very static. Asset managers authorizing use of their behavior within an application or making data available to technology partners to improve daily users experience is a very different story, and one that I think is 1) needed and 2) on the horizon for more tools in the industry. Get ready for tech that learns about your behaviors, offers suggestions, and displays content based on relevancy. Could data operations better serve consumers by allowing them to see what data others are using frequently? Could click streams generated within client portals be used for client AND firm benefit? And what about risk tools that can suggest models through machine learning?
Consumer technology is already driven by data and usage tracking; a distinct departure from today’s trading systems, accounting engines and data platforms. Are asset managers ready for the leap? Is collecting and managing this data worth the effort and risk? While there are real barriers, I believe the risk is worthwhile now that firms are comfortable with third parties hosting and managing their technology systems. Prepare to “share your location” and envision the benefits you may be able to unlock for your users and clients.