By George Ralph. First published in PE Wire.
Digital transformation can create efficiencies within a business, increasing visibility of data and reducing cost. However, it is crucial that any digital trans- formation is approached correctly, as a poorly executed strategy can lead to significant business disruption.
“An effective digitisation process is built on an effective data strategy. An end-to-end managed data solution is usually the most effective approach for a PE firm,” explains George Ralph, Global Managing Director at RFA. “A data warehouse will separate the layers of PE managers’ data via any public cloud provider; AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. The managers are then able to scale their data and separate data processing and storage. This will allow them to harness that data for deal making and key investment decisions.”
Data governance, ingestion and analytics solutions are built to meet the standards of institutional investors and global financial regulators. They can automate processes which historically have been lengthy and burdensome.
The key trend around how the industry manages data continues. Ralph comments: “As more and more people get involved in their data journey, they will discover a greater number of anomalies in the patterns of their behaviour as a business, in how they operate and also within the functions of the business.
“Alongside those starting out, firms that have already embarked on their digitisation journey are in phase two of their delivery now. We are seeing firms data scraping into their data warehouse to then review the KPIs on that data in order to see how that impacts their funds performance.”
Another strong focus is around collaboration. “If a firm has multiple systems, the answer isn’t to integrate those systems, it is to pour all the data from every system into a data warehouse. From here, a firm can assess where the burdens to their business lie and what can be potentially automated, via the assistance of a data management dash- board,” outlines Ralph.
A focal point for RFA themselves this year is using the opportunity of the massive shift in working conditions to develop a better understanding of ESG and how RFA as a firm can deploy an even more successful policy within its own business. “Business travel is a great example of this,” observes Ralph. “Before 2020, I for one seemed to always be in flight somewhere. RFA has nine global locations across three continents and as Global MD, I have a responsibility to each and every one of our 300 plus employees worldwide. Covid has taught me new ways to communicate and collab- orate to still get the job done, just remotely.
“Remote working, or satellite office working, can offer a significant impact on our ability to give back to the environment. We have learned how to get deals done and manage workflow without the ability to stand up at our desks and catch the attention of a colleague across the office, or meet a new investor in person at our offices. Investors are now not only interested in the ESG impact of their investments but also in the ESG impact of their investment management partners, so a firm must look at how they can reasonably make their own contribution. The data and collaboration business technology that has emerged allows us, and our clients, to be able to do this.”