2018-10-08

Flow Analytics for Fintech Series

What is Flow Analytics and Data Automation


More Help Less Hype

If you're like me, you have a healthy skepticism of technology hype. There are too many articles, reports, and magical quadrants that review technology without answering the most critical question: Will it solve my problem? The purpose of the posts and related videos in this series is to provide sufficient detail about how Flow Analytics is used to address real-world challenges. To that end, the workflow examples and data discussed in this series are all available in the public workflow library in the Flow Analytics portal. If you're not already a registered Flow Analytics user, sign up for a free user account to get access.

What is a Flow Analytics Workflow?

Think of a Flow Analytics workflow as a recipe where the data inputs are the ingredients, and the workflow actions are the preparation steps. Workflows, like recipes, can be copied and shared, have one input replaced with another, and be modified by adding or removing steps.

Here is a more formal explanation of a Flow Analytics workflow data automation:

A Flow Analytics workflow is a sequence of user-defined actions that, together, perform three fundamental tasks required to solve most business challenges:

  • Integrate data from one or more data sources
  • Execute user-defined actions to process and enrich the data
  • Use the processed and enriched data to generate a set of needed results

Building and Deploying Flow Analytics Workflows

The development of a workflow begins with the identification of a set of desired results which helps determine the data needed and the workflow actions required. Using the Flow Analytics Cloud Connect workflow designer available in the Flow Analytics portal, you configure a series of workflow actions to generate your desired results. Flow Analytics stores your workflows in the Flow Analytics portal where you can manage, deploy and run your workflows using remote agents or Flow Analytics cloud-based, virtual environment.

about the author
about the author icon
Ken McLaughlin

Ken is a managing partner with 4D-IQ and the lead developer of Flow Analytics. Before 4D-IQ, he co-founded Financial Technology Integrators where he led the development of InvestorsView, one of the first SaaS portfolio management, trading, and rebalancing platform for wealth managers. Before starting 4D-IQ, he was with Blackrock Financial where he developed risk analytics and optimization software.

fintech series workflow diagram
Three Fundamental Workflow Tasks
fintech series workflow diagram
Cloud Connect Workflow Designer

Data Automation versus Current Technologies


I'll try to illustrate how the data automation approach to solving business challenges differs from current methods using the example of customizing reports for clients. If this discussion is too abstract, the workflow examples presented by the posts in this series provide detailed, step-by-step explanations.

Customization and Personalization with Current Technologies

Most report generators currently provided by wealth management solution vendors implement customization via some form of report template process. There are many issues with this technology. One significant problem is report templates require fixed data sources with hard-coded mappings of data point names, data types, and data formats between a data source and the report template. Once a custom report is in production, this data mapping makes implementing changes difficult. Updating or modifying an existing data source or adding new data sources often means redoing the template from scratch. Moreover, since report templates generate reports in batch, personalization is difficult to achieve. The result is the top-down, batch approach to delivering "custom reports" provides minimal customization.

report generation
  • Fixed data sources
  • Hard coded data mapping
  • Difficult to modify
  • Limited personalization
Customization and Personalization via Data Automation

Data automation enables a broader variety of flexible, highly customizable ways to generate client information and reports.

Whereas current wealth management reporting technologies apply all data sources to a fixed template geared towards batch production, data automation workflows separate data sources from the workflow actions used to generate the required results. This separation of data sources from workflow actions makes it easy to modify, replace, or add data sources. Instead of a single template used to produce reports in batch for multiple clients, multiple workflows can be used to generate personalized information for one or more clients.

report generation
  • Add, remove, or substitute data sources
  • Separation of workflow actions from data sources
  • Easy to modify both inputs and outputs
  • High degree of personalization

Can't Find a Solution? Challenge Us


Do you have a challenging manual task or process that is inefficient, takes more time than it should, and you would like to automate, but you've been able to find a solution. Tell us about it, and we'll design a data automation workflow to overcome your challenge. Just go to our contact us page and either call us, send us a message with the subject "I have a challenge," or use the email link.