Sounds of the summit… Tech spec
In between the conference panels at OLS, The Drawdown’s host of operational leaders were mingling on the long lawns of the Royal Berkshire Hotel.
Fresh in the mind was technological innovation, with buzzwords like AI, innovation, single-source-of-truth and machine learning electrifying the air as guests consumed Pimm’s and popcorn.
After the conference, The Drawdown caught up with Federated Hermes’s associate director Matt Guy and BGF’s head of technology Alastair Pilgrim to recall snippets of conversations about developing tech stacks. We also discussed how market transparency can help generate new focus points for internal digital transformation.
As it turns out, there is a lot to get excited about. Guy anticipates that SaaS solutions will develop exponentially during the coming years. He said: “They have become a game changer for solving specific problems such as automating carried interest calculations or extracting information from unstructured documents.”
In general, there is a lot of talk around the development of Microsoft products, with the advent of Microsoft 365 Copilot. It is an LLM plugin that works alongside the user to automate tasks performed on the Office platforms.
Microsoft Syntex is a part of the Copilot offering. It is used to process business documents more easily. Simple rules to trigger business actions can be implemented to summarise documents and identify milestones, for example.
This is just one example of how laborious tasks might be eliminated in the future as generative AI becomes more mainstream.
However, it is important to be able to integrate any technology into existing systems. Otherwise, firms risk creating data silos and flow problems. The aim is to reduce manual processes and not increase them, after all.
Industry transparency can help with deciding on the right solutions to use. Pilgrim commented on the importance of learning from peers: “You have to balance having a competitive advantage with playing a role within the financial community. This means being open to collaborating on shared learnings, without compromising internal protocols.”
Proceed with caution?
Something that could scupper progress is any impending regulation that comes into force. The EU’s final version of the AI Act is due to be published by the end of 2023. The UK and the US are working on developing soft law, while China is working to regulate companies on explainable AI algorithms.
The impact of forthcoming regulation is unknown, but depending on which jurisdictions you operate in, you might have a varying degree of flexibility as to which products you can implement.
Pilgrim addressed the need for IT specialists to keep up to speed with regulatory updates: “It is inevitable that something is going to come through. There is a level of caution that needs to be taken as we don’t yet know how it will manifest itself.”
Who knows? By the time the next OLS conference opens its doors, tech specs might have adapted even further. Until then, the tech experts are tasked with keeping a finger on the pulse of the latest trends.