Enterprise Search Brings Together Structured and Unstructured Customer Data

Financial services firm UBS lets customers and employees see much more data, much faster, to improve relationships.

UBS had a problem: Customers -- banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and pension funds--had to navigate a series of siloed computer systems to access investment information and transaction capabilities whenever they wanted to do research, make trades or redistribute their money. Time and frustrations added up.

"We had over 90 different client access points. It was inefficient for our clients and expensive for us to operate," says Hishaam Caramanli, managing director and global head of securities e-commerce at the $31 billion global financial services company.

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UBS envisioned a system that would let clients and employees find information and perform transactions from a single starting point. Rather than collecting and cleansing data from many existing systems to put in a data warehouse -- a common approach -- UBS built a platform called Neo that, behind the scenes, uses enterprise search capabilities to find what users want. The platform is built on Attivio's Active Intelligence Engine, software that indexes, searches and packages data of all sorts.

Customers got access to the system last year, after UBS had run it internally since 2011. Before Neo, Caramanli says, a client trading Sony stock, for example, would log in to one system to review research, move to another to convert currency to Japanese yen, and then another to execute the trade. Now the client can do it all through Neo, regardless of whether the desired data is unstructured, such as in research reports, or structured in stock price charts.

"Being able to combine all that information into a single, harmonious whole is really what these technologies are about," says IDC analyst Dave Schubmehl, "because people don't want to have to go to multiple places for information." In addition to the Active Intelligence Engine, other so-called unified information access products include IBM's Vivisimo and Oracle's Endeca.

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