BST Awards 2021 Winners' Circle: IHS Markit

EDM from IHS Markit: still thriving after all these years.

IHS Markit
Devendra Bhudia

IHS Markit won three categories in this year’s Buy-Side Technology Awards: best data management product, best corporate actions platform, and best overall technology provider for 2021. WatersTechnology chats to Devendra Bhudia, global head of product for EDM at IHS Markit, about the reasons for EDM’s enduring success in these awards since they were launched in 2007, and EDM’s migration to a software-as-a-service offering. 

WatersTechnology: To what do you attribute EDM’s continued success over the years, given the fact that it’s been around for a while and it is competing in a highly competitive and mature market? 
Devendra Bhudia, global head of product for EDM, IHS Markit:
I think first and foremost, EDM’s success is down to the fact that it is aimed at business users, so it’s simple to configure. Over the years, we’ve layered on more and more functionality that enhances the platform. If we rewind 15 years, EDM was a buy-side-focused platform that was simple to use and aimed at business users so that they could configure it according to their specific needs. We’ve maintained that focus. At some of our larger clients, the IT team are also important stakeholders, so we cater to both sides (business and technology users). As such, EDM helps clients not only from a scale perspective, but also from a usability perspective.  

WatersTechnology: This interview would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about the recently launched Data Dictionary, which IHS Markit describes as the first deliverable in EDM’s migration to a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based offering. Can you explain what the Data Dictionary is and why its creation is so important from the company’s perspective?
Over the years, we’ve gone from deployed software to a cloud-based managed service. We are now migrating to a SaaS deployment model. When you have over 200 customers, they each want the benefits of new product features and functional enhancements as soon as possible. SaaS makes this possible. Platforms like Zoom, Teams and Office 365 are all run on a SaaS model. This makes it possible to roll out new features on a single code base to all customers, eliminating the need for customers to undertake upgrades individually.

With respect to the Data Dictionary, the industry has moved away from a focus on producing “golden copies” and authoritative data. The focus is now increasingly on understanding what data is available to users within a firm and the governance framework for that data. The Data Dictionary addresses this shift in focus. It is a web-based interface that allows users to see what data is available within their organization, including data governance metadata, such as how the data is defined, where it has come from, who owns it, and who has altered it. The Data Dictionary is delivered within our new SaaS framework.

WatersTechnology: What are the typical challenges facing buy-side firms right now? What are you hearing from them in terms of their day-to-day pain points from a data management perspective, and how is EDM as a platform helping them to address those challenges? 
Our customers are looking to do more with less. They are always looking for additional use-cases for both EDM, our data management platform, and EDM Warehouse, our integrated investment management warehouse and reporting platform. For example, they’re looking at use-cases that cater for ESG datasets, data optimization, and core mastering capabilities. At the same time, they want to make sure data lineage and data audit are not broken, so that their data management is transparent. 

They’re also looking at migrating more of their data management and warehousing processes to the cloud and outsourcing operations to us. We met a customer recently who had to go to the board a couple of years ago to get approval for using the cloud for data management. Now, they have to go to the board if they want to deploy software on-premises. Clearly, the industry is changing and we are helping our clients to stay at the forefront of these changes. 

Regulation is also always a challenge for our clients. There are more and more regulations impacting the buy side and we work with our clients to help them confidently address these new requirements, particularly in relation to aggregating and validating data for reporting.

Finally, our customers are always looking for both investment and operational alpha. That means they need consistent, validated data to support their investment decision-making and they want to automate manual processes in order to streamline their operations. EDM has an important role to play on both counts.

WatersTechnology: With respect to EDM’s roadmap, are there any significant milestones coming up in terms of new features and/or functions that the firm is readying for market? Are you able to share any of those plans with us?
The Data Dictionary is the first application we have released on the SaaS platform. Next, we will be releasing functionality that allows business users to use drag-and-drop features to create their own screens using the Data Dictionary definitions they’ve made. The concept of “major milestones” does not really exist within the SaaS framework because we’re continually delivering improvements to the platform. As such, we’ll be pushing out features throughout 2022 as and when they’re ready. 

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