Delivering the Buy Side Deeper Insights for More Informed Decisions
At SimCorp, we've built a reputation as one of the leading providers of investment management software solutions for many of the world's top financial institutions, from the world’s largest pension funds, asset managers and insurance firms, to banks and sovereign wealth funds.
Our core product is SimCorp Dimension. It’s an integrated Investment Book of Record (IBOR) that provides companies a front-to-back, real-time overview of their entire business in one core system, enabling them to make the most informed investment decisions. More than $20 trillion USD is managed on SimCorp Dimension globally.
A key reason for our success—the promise we make to our clients—is one that differentiates us from our competitors. We call it a perennial guarantee, where we invest around 20% of our revenue back into research and development every year. We have four quarterly releases annually, with at least one mandatory upgrade a year, which is our way of guaranteeing that our clients always have the most up-to-date systems, both for their internal needs and to respond to changing market conditions. This approach is a major contributing factor to how we remain innovative as a company. In an industry like ours, innovation isn't just important—it's critical to the long-term success of SimCorp and our clients.
As we continue down the innovation path and partner with our clients on their own growth journeys, our aim is to explore the many ways in which we can evolve our technology. The goal being to refine the investment processes and workflows that exist today, for a smoother and more seamless experience tomorrow. One area we identified as being ripe for enhancement was that of business intelligence (BI).
With data being foundational to the buy side more so than ever before, it became clear to us, in our discussions with clients, that there was a need to rationalize growing enterprise data (often formed by diverse data sources), and create meaningful powerful insights to explore and learn from. In short, analytics that could be directly integrated into our investment system, delivering enhanced knowledge and better, more informed investment decisions.
Too Many Tools, Not Enough Reporting
Our core aim was to address the multiple ways in which we processed reporting for our customers. Reporting and analytics source data lived in our data warehouse. We then needed to handle different use cases for this data. Sometimes, it was operational reporting, other times it was our clients communicating this data with thousands of their customers. Regardless of the situation, our collection of diverse reporting tools made it clear there was room for optimization.
For example, from a functionality and processes perspective, we had Crystal Reports built into the system as a reporting engine since the inception of Dimension. We also developed dashboards for clients, but they were now considered static for today’s needs. Our customers required comprehensive and dynamic BI capabilities that were easy to use, yet powerful.
Much of SimCorp Dimension’s functionality to date has been organically developed. Being a software vendor ourselves, we take pride in this expertise. As part of a wider innovative ecosystem, SimCorp Dimension moves beyond the core front-to-back investment lifecycle. This means we also partner with best-in-class solutions where it is deemed more beneficial to draw on the expertise of others.
With BI and analytics platforms having undergone a broad evolution over the last decade, navigating the vast number of vendors had become a challenge for many firms. We went through an incredibly thorough partner selection process. We examined both the leaders and also the niche players because we knew that we weren't just looking to solve the standalone BI case. We also wanted to have something that could be embedded into the rest of the Dimension platform.
We attended webinar after webinar. Most of the tools we researched, we installed and tested out. We then invited some of the top choices to give product demonstrations. All in all, the review process lasted about two years.
Having done the due diligence, SimCorp decided to partner with Qlik to offer its best-in-class advanced analytics platform, embedded as a deployed service, together with SimCorp Dimension and its data warehouse. This included access to the highly intuitive self-service portal powered by Qlik Sense Enterprise. For us, the ‘Associative engine’ sets Qlik apart from other BI solutions, enabling users to scour through a myriad of data and instantly pivot queries, based on data uncovered by SimCorp Dimension and its data warehouse.
A Solution, Hiding in Plain Sight
Years back, we looked at QlikView, but didn’t feel like it was the right fit at the time. But in this search process, we saw a marked difference, with Qlik’s move into multi-cloud, APIs, and embedded analytics, so that really opened the door for their platform.
When we compared features, Qlik rose above the rest. They could handle either standalone or embedded analytics. Their data governance met all our needs, and their APIs and developer platform were exactly what we were looking for. Of all the options we looked at, Qlik Sense proved to be the best across categories and use cases.
Our proof of concept (PoC) was in embedded BI, to bring a self-service experience to our end-user applications. Our current initiative is to use Qlik Sense as the BI tool for our data warehouse. It’s an offering we’re calling SimCorp BI, and it’ll be powered by Qlik Sense. This was our starting point, but we also saw the opportunity to replace other reporting tools.
With SimCorp BI, we’ve connected the data warehouse manager and dashboards with Qlik’s native compressed data files (QVD) as a new way of delivering data marts to our users. We previously published our data marts in database formats like Oracle, SQL, or CSV files. But now, we can provide QVDs as well. That means we take away the data modeling part of the BI development and go straight into the visualization development.
Instead of selling the technical aspect of our data warehouse solution, we can sell the outcome of the data warehouse. We can now show what’s inside the data warehouse, and ultimately show clients what they can get out of the warehouse.
Using Qlik Sense, we’ve built a completely white-labeled solution for our clients. It has the look and feel of SimCorp Dimension, but runs on top of Qlik Sense. This lets us continue to own the experience while having powerful analytics capabilities.
One of these solutions is our management dashboard. It’s a high-level overview of our clients’ business: assets under management, book value, and the portfolio’s top performers, among other things. It’s the vital details a manager needs to understand the health of their business—all in one place.
These dashboards come right out of the box now. We had one client who rolled out the data warehouse—including BI—in just five days. By providing standard packages including data marts and dashboard templates, SimCorp’s clients now get value from the start when licensing our Investment Management Warehouse.
This is just one example of what we’ve built. These dashboards are also available for the back office to provide them with a thorough transactional overview, and the middle office to help accurately pinpoint risk and performance. In an industry where 82% see compliance with regulatory requirements as a top challenge, this is an invaluable service.
Opening New Doors
Our partnership with Qlik has opened new doors for us to explore and will help SimCorp’s clients harvest the value of their enterprise data in SimCorp Dimension, both now and in the future.
From day one, we were able to deploy a BI product with the Investment Management Warehouse, and we have uncovered multiple big data use cases, building on what we previously delivered.
With analytics traditionally sitting outside of our natural wheelhouse, we’re satisfied we have engineered a new and powerful tool for our clients, delivering unparalleled insights. For a company that holds innovation as one of our core principles, I’m excited to see what we can disrupt next.