No more “Big Data”! Or why we invested in NetGuardians

It has been quite a short fast ride for Big Data technologies, from the forefront of analytics innovation to being embedded in (very) many modern IT solutions. Less than 10 years ago the first version of Hadoop was released, and 6 years ago projects inside large IT shops (my experience is from IBM 2008/9) considered it “exotic” to say the least.

In my innovation team at Sberbank, we deployed a Hadoop Cloudera cluster 2 years ago, and the results, in speed and sheer data set size that became available to us was exceptional, even more so when compared to “traditional” analytics technologies used by banks. I used to joke that if Google would use the same (obsolete) technology as many banks do even today, each time a person would type a question, Google would post an answer of this kind: “thank for your question, we will analyse our data and send you an email with the most likely answer in two business days”. Jokes aside, the introduction of big data technologies in all areas of business, not only in banking, has changed everything, and the impact is only starting.

For me, the best sign that the benefits are not being questioned anymore is that two years ago companies were trumpeting the “big data”  aspect of their business — and many times the only connection was in the marketing brochure text — today we see real companies solving new and old problems in new ways using “big data inside”.

Earlier this year we (SBT Venture Capital) have invested in Red Zebra Analytics, a startup company that processes the huge electronic transaction log that some banks let go to waste/archive and calculates targeted merchant cash back offers.

And today we have announced our newest investment in NetGuardians, an “internal fraud detection” company that, of course, is using big data technology to solve problems that were unsolvable at this level of depth and complexity only a couple of years ago. NetGuardians achieves 360° anti-fraud, operational risk mitigation and compliance coverage through business and IT activity monitoring using existing information (audit trails, transactions, logs, etc.). Think of all your application logs, their size, and how difficult/easy is to analyse all of them in synch, in real-time, looking for fraud patterns, and you understand that only new big data techniques have made this possible.

The NetGuardians team is moving the business forward at great pace, expanding from Europe to Middle East and Africa. Happy to see, once again, that innovative fintech can change banking from within.