In a few words, can you introduce Linedata?
Linedata is a global software publisher, service and value-added data provider dedicated to the financial sector. For more than 20 years, Linedata has been helping its clients - asset managers, traditional and alternative asset managers, fund administrators and credit and finance institutions - meet their challenges with innovative and effective solutions. To meet their needs today and tomorrow, we are committed to a sustained R&D activity, with 16% of software revenues dedicated to R&D in 2019 and more than 400 people dedicated to this activity, representing more than 35% of the group's workforce.
Among our 700 prestigious clients are Crédit Agricole CIB, Meridian, Bail Actéa (Crédit Mutuel).
In what way has the Covid crisis accelerated your innovation process?
The Covid crisis has indeed had an accelerating effect on two main elements.
Very quickly, faced with an unpredictable and unprecedented crisis, our customers needed us. By rapidly reallocating our resources, both human and budgetary, to ad-hoc R&D focused on the impacts of the crisis, we proved our agility and enabled them to adapt to the new context and continue their activity under good conditions.
For example, we have made available to users of the Linedata Ekip solution (the group's Credit and Financing offer) a module to automate the process of postponing and modulating loan maturities. This is the case of our customer Bail Actéa, a Crédit Mutuel subsidiary, with whom we identified, even before the start of confinement, that manual processing was time-consuming and a source of errors. Dominique Pinte, IT manager at Bail Actéa, explains: "We deployed Linedata's patch and were able to manage the extension of repayment deadlines according to the suspension periods requested. For example, more than 300 contracts requesting extensions of 2 months were processed in 10 minutes, whereas manual processing would have taken several days. And the automation of the process avoids errors. »
Another accelerating effect of the crisis is that we have used this period to focus our employees on the innovation process. To demonstrate our ability to adapt to changes in the industry and accelerate our own transformation, we decided to launch a group-wide challenge: the Linedata Builders Awards. Starting in May 2020, this initiative has enabled everyone to reflect and share their ingenious and impactful ideas on five themes that can help shape Linedata's future (customer engagement, new business models and sales strategy, product improvement, efficiency and productivity, value-added services). More than 80 initiatives were developed by employees over the summer, and several have been incorporated into our 2020-2023 strategic initiatives.
It is this ability to evolve in a constrained time, with limited resources and agile methods, that confirms the group's commitment to play a major role in a changing industry.
How are new technologies such as artificial intelligence concretely transforming the finance sector?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming our products and markets in depth, it gives concrete value to the data in our software.
Beyond being an essential factor in the rapid processing of ever-increasing volumes of data, AI enables us to deliver cutting-edge advice and service offerings to our clients. The creation of our "AI Centre of Excellence" in Mumbai, with a dedicated team of engineers, illustrates the priority we give to investing in AI.
Since 2020, our offer has included a "Data Hub" that enables us to deliver aggregated data from several sources, enriched by value-added indicators (ESG indicators for example), to all our software, but also to other solutions on the market. This Datahub requires little technical investment and offers unlimited extension capabilities.
Another example is the "Linedata AMP" (Asset Management Platform) solution, which is based on artificial intelligence. Linedata AMP is a market-leading platform that provides asset managers with instant and continuous access via the cloud to the software, data and services solutions they need to accelerate the transformation of their business model.
On the automotive side, from 2019, our dealer customers will benefit from the development of an AI-based virtual assistant to guide an advisor in his actions during a car loan simulation with a potential buyer, or to assess a customer's appetite for certain offers, thereby optimising the sales effectiveness of salespeople.
You have deployed a network of Labs, what is its role?
Our network of "Labs" enables us to promote innovative ideas and encourage their realisation. It is deployed in Europe, Tunisia, India and the United States. More than 15 major projects a year see the light of day in our Innovation Labs in various fields of application, and new Labs are currently being deployed to cover all our points of presence around the world very quickly.
For example, our employees have been able to test their ideas on new business models that are changing the game, such as outsourced middle-office services or freemium models. But also on advanced product functionalities boosted by AI, such as an intelligent sales assistant capable of composing the "ideal" vehicle + credit offer for our Credit & Finance customers, a middle-office input assistant for asset managers, or the use of OCR (optical recognition) technology and automatic natural language processing (NLP) tools that facilitate the updating of customer information in content and documents, mobile applications, etc.
These Labs are also intended to place Linedata at the heart of the local ecosystem of our main offices. Within this framework, we establish partnerships at several levels. Firstly with the academic world (INSEAD, Neoma) but also with pure tech players (Google and Amazon) or with start-ups such as Flat6Labs, Insomea, a Tunisian company in the cloud, Dataperformer, a Canadian startup specialising in AI, or Almug, an Indian startup specialising in Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Finally, Linedata's Innovation Week, in virtual format for its 2020 edition, offers conferences and happenings on innovation topics with contributions from technical experts.
Thanks to the foundation provided by these Innovation Labs and the training programmes deployed for Linedata's teams, we are able to intensify and diversify our teams' know-how on key themes for the future of our markets, such as AI, Big Data, or Block Chain, and bring ever greater value to our customers.
How do you contribute to the Fintech ecosystem?
First of all, the company invests in the incubation of internal and external technology start-ups, giving Linedata greater agility to support its customers in the transformation of their business models. Incubation allows us to detect nuggets to accelerate their development, establish synergies between the different components of our offer and draw the contours of tomorrow's Linedata.
For example, in the field of loans & financing, the acquisition of the Loansquare startup in 2019 will enable us to digitise relations between borrowers and financial institutions over the entire loan lifecycle. Similarly, in the field of Predictive Data Analytics, an internal startup was created in 2019 around a core group of dedicated employees who, in just a few weeks, built AI models that enable Linedata's end customers to make substantial savings by avoiding costly operational incidents (e.g. detection of data entry errors and corrupted data).
What about tomorrow? We will continue to invest in future technologies based on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data or Blockchain. The objective of our 2023 Vision Plan is threefold:
- To bring the best of technology to customers to catalyse their digital transformation.
- Gaining operational efficiency to accelerate the deployment of solutions and remain competitive
- Giving employees the means to surpass themselves in a creative and stimulating environment
To strengthen its action with startups, Linedata is investing in numerous partnerships with local incubators or associations bringing together the biggest players in Fintech. The company intends to further develop its presence on the scene by making its Labs available for catalytic events, such as a series of themed "meet-ups" for example.