2021 has been a seminal year for DiligenceVault – a rapidly growing digital diligence network with over 30,000 users, a year when we went from digitizing 150 diligences a day to over 300. The challenges that we faced, responded to, and solved for in 2021 were new, yet inspiring as we managed 100s of client interactions in supporting large and complex data flows, grappling with the lack of an industry standard in managing entities, and absorbing constant feedback as clients leveraged the platform beyond our product imagination!
We’ve been able to glean numerous insights in 2021 that:
- comes with helping the industry transition from offline processes to over 300,000 digital diligences.
- comes with helping the industry converge on standards, removing data duplication, and creating a robust and shared data layer.
- comes from simplifying user experiences across some repetitive, some simple, and some complex use cases.
- comes with driving adoption from users in over 100 countries.
Regardless of whether you are a technologist, a diligence expert, a data scientist, or an asset manager, below are some clear themes we believe will propel the industry further in its digitization journey:
1. Data ownership – one of the most important themes is ownership of the data. Data ownership should always reside with the users of the platform, and not the platform provider. The true value a platform can provide is in unlocking the power of data by systematizing data flows and research processes.
2. Data standardization as a foundational layer:
- We invested in onboarding industry standard questionnaires for private markets, hedge funds, and sub-advisory mandates as well as functional areas such as ODD, ESG, DEI, and Compliance. Given the depth of the network, it’s been a privilege to promote best practices for the benefit of the industry
- We continued to build a reusable and standardized data layer to eliminate fundamental data duplication, automated collaborative data cleansing while maintaining the security and confidentiality of our user’s data.
3. The complexities of building a global platform for diligence where there are geographically distributed parties to any transaction include the requirements of data residency. With evolving privacy and data transfer regulations across various jurisdictions, we need to be mindful of the residency promises made to the clients and re-evaluate this in our technical architecture.
4. Conversational bridges have proven to be critical enablers and not a replacement for human interaction as we help digitize diligence processes. One of the biggest product R&D focuses for DiligenceVault has been in building collaborative experiences that empower these conversational bridges for both online and offline interactions, and internal and external interactions which ultimately drive user adoption that in turn enables greater digitization.
5. There is an acknowledgment of the need for fact-based decision making and investment science which is fueling the demand for structured and accessible data. This year, DiligenceVault helped digitize millions of data points equivalent to digitizing over 2mm unstructured documents. In 2022, as a diligence professional, you simply cannot afford to work with reams of unstructured documents on shared drives or a document repository when the opportunity exists to systematically capture and structure data.
6. Getting the right data is the most important and the most challenging part of enabling AI applications. At DiligenceVault, we have focused on fundamentally transforming a data and information flow which have largely depended on Excel, Word, and emails. However, there’s another 20-25% segment which is PDF reports and statements which hold key inputs for portfolio operations and monitoring diligence. The maturity of language AI products promises to provide contextual text extraction, and we continue to explore partnerships with specialists having the right expertise in text and data extraction for legal documents, investment statements, and financial reports.
7. Self-service data analytics are becoming critical for our users. Not all firms have data scientists within the team or ready access to cloud-based scalable computing power, so the platform of the future needs to take the approach of centralizing collective intelligence, presenting clean usable data while exposing the right tools to our users to replicate their decision process without wrangling multiple Excel files. In an era where everyone has access to the same information, the value comes from orchestrating new insights faster.
8. As an increasing number of teams are building internal data lakes and warehouses which require seamless operational infrastructure – API integrations have become a key product offering. Our public APIs help build connectivity directly with the source and destination systems removing the dependency of transient information being stored in Excel, Word, and PDF with the need for human intervention to make the data connect. Along the same lines, we continue to integrate with industry partners, most notably with FactSet Research and Mercer Fund Watch in 2021. We remain excited about continued client-driven integrations in 2022 with FinTechs focusing on deepening expertise in critical aspects of the investment life cycle.
9. With the focus on data security maturing, constantly improving our multi-level security framework from application to infrastructure, while incorporating principles of zero trust defense layer, and severity minimization frameworks have been a winning formula for rapid client adoption.
A Scalable Data Blueprint
While superior feature functionality is usually a starting point in a client’s technology adoption journey, the 9 themes above are the true reason we have seen clients derive tangible success from their investment in DiligenceVault. The operational maturity and agility to stay ahead of industry expectations have led us to deliver a meaningful solution for our users – leverage a common data blueprint to develop their own investment decision, anomaly detection, predictive and risk management frameworks – with the peace of mind of getting the necessary diligence and oversight information in a clean, usable, and timely fashion. A collective dream come true! Welcome, 2022 :).