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Our blog is about all things data: data analytics, data management, data governance, data quality, data visualisation. Gain insights from our data and analytics professionals working across all industries.

09 November 2018

Helping advance smart cities

The development of smart cities – enabled, powered and integrated by digital technologies – is set to be one of the crowning achievements of societies worldwide in the 21st century. Already, the everyday lives of people living in countless cities are being made easier, more fulfilling and more secure by...

02 November 2018

PwC's senior women in data dinner

By Tayyaba Arif and Lola Ladejobi. According to the Office of National Statistics, over 70% of women aged 16–64 are employed, increasing from slightly over half (53%) in 1971. Of those working women, only 22% are in senior leadership roles – a glance around the room would tell you that there’s even less in data-focused roles.

03 October 2018

Increase compliance by listening to the story your corporate data is telling you

By Harshad Kanchan In our last insurance blog we discussed why data engineers could be the catalyst your business needs. In this one we venture into the area of analytics performed by data engineers, business analysts and auditors in the internal audit and compliance functions.

11 September 2018

Blockchain: The safest place for our data

By Louise Broderick Of all the conceivable uses of blockchain, its potential in securely managing, storing and sharing data is, I would say one of the most exciting of all. At its core, blockchain enables the sharing of data across boundaries.

22 August 2018

Drones: It’s all about the data

By Stephen Mills The latest Instagram fad, according to a recent report, is to take a selfie (preferably while somewhere exotic on holiday) from a drone. Inevitably it comes with its own hashtag – #instadrone.

15 August 2018

How Data & Analytics tools can improve your tax function

By Tom Harrold. Tax functions are under pressure to become more efficient and aligned with the business, whilst also handling greater amounts of information. All against the backdrop of increasingly complex regimes. Could data and analytics provide a solution?

01 August 2018

Financial crime: Sanctions screening and the quirks of language

By Scott Samme and Jeremy Davey. For virtually any company participating in international trade, sanctions screening has long been an everyday fact of life. It can’t be avoided and, for most, is one of the most time-consuming and frustrating of compliance processes. But it needn’t be.

10 July 2018

Why the role of Data Engineer could be the catalyst your business needs

By Sam Jones and Timothy Harrison In our last blog we discussed how the combination of increased data availability and customer expectations was driving the opportunity for increasingly personalised policies.  The insurance industry has been built on data foundations with underwriting, claims and reserving all creating data and pertaining processes which are enhanced through the use of data.

02 July 2018

Regulatory technology insights

We were recently invited by one of our Banking clients to participate in a panel discussion at their annual Fintech innovation week. We shared views on emerging technologies, the impact they’ve had on operations and compliance, and how they’re helping the sector provide valuable services to customers. The main theme of our discussion was advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how regulatory developments, and compliance costs are influencing the rapid adoption of these technologies. We’ve summarised a few of the main points in part one of this two part blog.

12 June 2018

The role of analytics in wellbeing

Back in the analogue days, annual appraisals were the main tool organisations used to find out how their employees were feeling. Appraisals could be a hit-and-miss affair for many reasons – not least that the appraisal process itself is enough to put some people in a bad mood. And if the employee is having an ‘off’ day on appraisal day, that’s it, as far as their employer is concerned they’re unhappy for a year.

05 June 2018

Financial crime: Four essential rules for effective transaction monitoring

By Jeremy Davey and Scott Samme Money launderers are, by definition, a devious bunch. They quickly learn the rules that banks set to detect suspicious transactions, and adapt. They are, in other words, dynamic – so transaction monitoring should be equally so. In our previous blog we talked about the problems with many legacy transaction monitoring (TM) systems, which tend to be rules-based. That’s not to say that rules-based systems are obsolete; but in the complex world of global finance, they’re not enough on their own. If banks are to efficiently root out complex illegal trades they need to know far more about the connections between parties to transactions. Fortunately, advanced technology and analytics allow us to do this.

29 May 2018

When automated pricing becomes collusion

By David Geere Machine learning systems are not unlike raising a particularly brilliant child – they could move ahead and gain knowledge at speed, but you need to give them guidance and an ethical framework or they could break through lines that adults wouldn’t cross. The possibility of automated collusion is one of those lines. As I’ve written previously, pricing is one of the most important issues for any business and Data and Analytics is bringing huge advantages to companies in making pricing decisions. Competition is tough in every sector, and companies are understandably keen to get the best prices for their goods and services

21 May 2018

Connecting with senior females in data

By Cathy Wilks For a long time we’ve thought about how do we really connect with more like-minded female technologists who all share the same passion for data, analytics and emerging technology. There are many events that we could, and often do attend, however, as senior females in data, we really want to understand how we can make a difference. As two of the female data leaders at PwC, last month we hosted the first gathering for ‘female leaders in data’ in our offices at Embankment Place. We recognise how important it is to form support networks, particularly with female peers, given there are fewer women in senior technology roles.

14 May 2018

Blockchain, a solution to securing and managing personal data?

By Jeff Handler and Leigh Bates It’s no secret that the amount of personal data being collected and processed is rapidly increasing. It’s estimated that over 20% of all of the world’s data has been collected in just the last couple of years, and that this will continue to increase exponentially moving forward.  

09 May 2018

Transaction monitoring: Why segments and thresholds are never enough

By Scott Samme and Jeremy Davey In our last blog we talked about the difficulties banks face with transaction monitoring (TM) for anti money laundering (AML) purposes. Rapid developments in data analytics and machine learning will make TM far more efficient in the very near future – but banks need to get their existing systems in order first.

02 May 2018

Managing AI and machine learning model risk - PwC’s AI Quality Assurance Framework

By Sudeshna Sen and Aldous Birchall Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are increasingly touching our lives every day through medicine, social media and banking. At PwC, we’ve delivered several AI solutions that provide augmented decision making to help our clients act with speed and precision at scale.

16 April 2018

Personalised Policies

By Sam Jones The insurance sector has always been known for being data-driven, in fact, some of the most early data analytics was with actuaries and insurance underwriters. The new challenges we face today is the sheer volume and variety of data which is increasing exponentially; a wealth of data is being generated by the increasing number of devices we interact with on a daily basis – from our mobile phones to the Internet of Things (IoT) - all of which provide high volume, mix-structured information on a real-time basis.

05 April 2018

Financial crime: Towards better transaction monitoring

By Jeremy Davey and Scott Samme In our last blog we explored how to use data and technology to understand your customers, for the third blog in our financial crime series we've looked at transaction monitoring systems and how technology and data analytics can help make transaction monitoring more efficient. 

29 March 2018

Outperforming the human: How can machine learning help your business?

By Matthew Tomlinson Every week, it seems someone produces a new estimate for how much data we produce. According to the research company IDC, by 2025 we will have created 163 zettabytes. That’s the equivalent of 40 trillion DVDs, or the entire Netflix catalogue 489 million times over. Technology allows us to gather, organise and analyse these vast volumes of data – but a potential weakness remains, and that stems from human involvement.

19 March 2018

Data visualisation: following the money

By Andrew Souyave I was talking to a friend recently who has an IT system where she works that gives things away free. It doesn’t mean to, it just lets the users close out contracts without going through the manual step of raising an invoice. When the friend had looked...

12 March 2018

Unlocking the power of data to track and manage business traveller risks

By Arjun Kumar and Sarah Mullen In an increasingly connected world, business travel is essential for companies to maintain and expand their global footprint. So it's no surprise that according to the Global Business Travel Association, in 2016 worldwide organisations spent US$1.3 trillion (approx £1 trillion) on business travel. However, together with great opportunities, this can equally be problematic for companies, as authorities are increasingly scrutinising the activities of mobile workers.

05 March 2018

Tech for good: Using data and technology to pick out the bad apples

By Scott Samme and Jeremy Davey In our first blog we talked how organisations can protect themselves against financial crime, for the second blog in our series we’ll look into more detail about how to use data and technology to understand your customers.

01 March 2018

Stop. Think. Automate. Repeat.

By Peter Chastin  People are amazing. They can perform incredibly complex tasks, and achieve astounding goals, especially when working together. They are an organisation’s most valuable asset, and often considered to be irreplaceable in their role. Despite this, there are daily tasks that are performed by people in their jobs that are, quite frankly, not worth their time. Time is valuable as well as finite, and can be better spent on innovation than on the same task every day.

26 February 2018

Chatbots - Let’s talk about them

There are three things you should know about me - I’ll tell you two of them now. Firstly, I like talking. I’ll talk to strangers, to colleagues, to clients; I’ll talk to the radio even though I’m reasonably sure they can’t hear me. Secondly, I hate filling out forms. I hate that once you’ve filled out one form you have to fill it out again twenty minutes later. I hate having to navigate to section 27b if I don’t own my own home or have a pet with arthritis. Wouldn’t it be good if we could use technology to get rid of this, whilst increasing the data integrity? This is why I believe chatbots are so appealing.

19 February 2018

Algorithmic trading: Flash crash or flashback?

By Aminul Ali, Leigh Bates Earlier this month, when the Dow Jones fell by almost 5%, what followed quickly overshadowed any blame on human error. Prices in the US stock market experienced free fall over a period of 15-20 minutes. The shocks were felt sharply in the S&P 500, Japan’s Nikkei and, closer to home in the UK, the FTSE 100.

29 November 2017

Data and analytics: Protecting us against financial crime part 1

By Jeremy Davey and Scott Samme The Chicago mobster Al Capone is famously (and perhaps erroneously) credited as the source of the phrase ‘money laundering’ in the 1940s, after his laundromat businesses were used to legitimise cash he gained through less salubrious means. Even Capone might have been surprised at how the money laundering business has boomed since his days. Our Global Economic Crime Survey shows the scale of the problem: global money laundering transactions worldwide are estimated at between $1 and $2 trillion – that’s 2% to 5% of the world’s total GDP. Less than 1% of this money is ever recovered by the authorities.

16 November 2017

The Gender Big Data Gap

By Harjinder Kaur - PwC, Navin Haram - UN Women and Fiona Bayat-Renoux - UN Women “To achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” is the fifth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the United Nation’s plan, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In our previous blogs we’ve discussed how big data can be used to monitor and evaluate international development. Big data can give us great insights into aid effectiveness and development projects, but it also comes with its own challenges.

18 October 2017

A better way of getting to the heart of the matter

By Umang Paw E-discovery tools are reinventing the art of the possible in complex investigations, and even pointing the way towards ‘self-policing’ enterprises The power of e-discovery tools has grown enormously. Enabled by the breakneck pace of technological change new capabilities draw on artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics and big...

28 September 2017

Big data, big deal?

By Maaike Platenburg, Freddy Bob-Jones and Friso Wiegman Benefits and challenges associated with Big Data for results measurements In our last blog, we explored the use of big data for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) purposes in international development. We concluded that big data can provide us with great insights into aid effectiveness; it can show whether development projects have been successful and facilitate a more adaptive process toward designing programmes that deliver better outcomes for disadvantaged people. However, current projects are still in the pilot phase and much still remains to mainstream the use of these techniques. With this blog we would like to build on our first blog by exploring the potential benefits and practical challenges associated with applying big data.

15 August 2017

Deploying Machine Learning in claims reserving

By Paul Delbridge Many insurers are investigating how Machine Learning can be best deployed to both improve risk segmentation and enhance pricing models. Many insurers have already acknowledged the speed at which both supervised or unsupervised Machine Learning can be used to build new types of high-quality models, leverage Big Data, and identify new relationships between variables. Relatively little has been made to date of the capabilities of Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence to dramatically increase both the speed at which claims reserving can be undertaken, and the extent to which highly sophisticated automation can be introduced.

31 July 2017

Simplifying Fraud Analytics

By Neil Houston ‘Big Data’. Personally, I view the term as a bit of a misnomer, it is after all just data. Though I’ll grant that there it is more of it being created, and more importantly, organisations are holding on to it for longer. There appears to be a view in some organisations that the more data you have access to then the better chance you will have at deriving value or insight from it. Over the last 10 years I’ve seen that it is becoming more challenging for those responsible for detecting or investigating fraud

17 May 2017

Overwhelmed by complex data?

By Jonathan Watters Businesses have never had more access to data – and that brings enormous problems as well as benefits. The more data you have, the more difficult it can be to organise. Fortunately, there’s technology available to help. Managing big, data-heavy projects can be daunting. To give just two examples, we’ve worked recently with a company that needed to review its data for thousands of counterparties for compliance with anti-money laundering legislation. The company was given six months to complete the review, which would mean processing, checking and (if necessary) remediating 5,000 case files, each one of which had many supporting documents. In another, we worked with a national government that needed to review more than 1,000 capital projects and decide on a case-by-case basis

03 May 2017

The future of AI through our children

By Rob McCargow It’s becoming increasingly clear that the recent flood of technological breakthroughs, principally the growing maturity of AI, are going to fundamentally reshape our world and how we live and work in the future. And how we collectively respond will have profound implications for future generations.

26 April 2017

Reviewed your bank’s chat metadata lately? Maybe you should – before the whistle blows

By Amjid Mahmood Imagine this scenario. You’re the head of compliance at a leading bank, and an employee who works on the trading floor comes forward with some very serious allegations about a senior trader. According to this whistleblower, the trader has been disclosing confidential information about clients to external parties and sharing information on their trading positions. You know you have an obligation to conduct a thorough internal investigation and report any significant findings to the regulator. But you also know that the sheer volume and diversity of data that you’ll need to comb through will present challenges if you use in-house resources to do it.

19 April 2017

Deploying machine learning in insurance pricing

By Paul Delbridge Insurers have been investigating the deployment of machine learning techniques in the pricing arena, seeking to exploit the speed at which models can be built and refreshed compared to the use of more traditional generalised linear modelling techniques. Machine learning techniques offer significant advantages over these traditional models, including the availability of various types of non-linear models which can lead to a wide range of new insights. However, these new models are more difficult to explain to both brokers and to customers (especially when these more sophisticated models suggest significant changes compared to the expiring prices), and there is a degree of resistance to what might be viewed as a black box technology by management and marketing teams.

10 April 2017

What can your phone say about you?

By Kavitha Chandrasekaran Our phones have become an essential part of our lives – and that means that every day, we leave a data trail behind us. From emails and social media messages, to pictures and videos, we leave a digital footprint wherever we go. Mostly, this is entirely intentional; it’s rare to find someone who owns a phone that doesn’t have any saved messages and images. But when something goes wrong, information is everything – which is why, in the world of forensic investigations, mobile data can be a valuable goldmine. ‘Mobile forensics’ is becoming an important part of the work of our Forensics Data and Analytics teams – we are increasingly asked to collect and analyse mobile data during investigations. It’s possible to collect an amazing array of information from the average smartphone, from SMS messages and emails, to calendar events, internet history and bookmarks and even your social media history. It’s even possible to recreate deleted messages, social media, pictures and documents from a phone.

04 April 2017

How businesses are transforming revenue models by monetizing and protecting customer data

By Paul Blase Information has become a primary form of capital - to businesses that know how to monetize their data, that is. Organisations that embrace the art of the possible in data monetization stand to create new capital from data sources and ultimately transform their business models. In doing so, however, they must maintain a sharp focus on data privacy. Capturing and monetizing data will require intelligent, connected systems and processes that help ensure that data and privacy are managed with the same rigour as traditional assets. The good news is that, as the volume of data has multiplied, the technologies for capturing, analysing and storing information have become more powerful - and less costly.

30 March 2017

Needed: Trustworthy frameworks for monetizing data

By Grant Waterfall and Jay Cline The private sector’s rush to collect and monetize consumer data has led many companies to create vast information stockpiles without careful planning. That trend is continuing as developers of the Internet of Things produce countless devices without basic security and privacy features. For many companies, unfortunately, emerging risks tied to data usage have been an afterthought.

02 March 2017

The price is right – with Data and Analytics

By David Geere Pricing is of key importance for any business. Setting the right price for your products and services can play a big part in your success or failure (even if you’re a not-for-profit) and it’s incredibly sensitive. Research suggests that a small increase in price can bring a...

20 February 2017

The data world needs more women

By Cathy Wilks A recent survey predicted that by the end of 2016, fewer than 25% of technology jobs in developed countries will be held by women, slightly down on the proportion for 2015. The study suggested a number of reasons for the low take-up of technology jobs by women,...

16 February 2017

Our Lives in Data vlog: facing up to your data

By Tom Middleton In the fourth vlog in our series from the 'Our Lives in Data' exhibition at the Science Museum, we've experimented with the data mirror which is one of the most fun elements of the exhibition. Tom Middleton, from our Risk Assurance team, talks about the different technologies...

10 February 2017

Part II Data Governance banana skins: Enterprise data governance – the final step must be the first

If you read the first part of this series you’ll undoubtedly have been on the lookout for Data Governance banana skins and with any luck, will have avoided a few slips! In this blog I’ll talk about the silver bullet that will (apparently) resolve all data-related issues in one go – the Enterprise-wide Data Governance initiative. This subject deserves all the airtime it can get – it’s where most programs fail before they even begin.

02 February 2017

Using Personal Data to Build Customer Trust and Competitive Advantage

Every time you use a search engine, land on a website, buy a product or download an app, you generate and share personal data via a sophisticated and sometimes covert combination of tracking tools like cookies, beacons and e-tags. This expansion in personal data collection is creating enormous visibility into individual lives, preferences and behaviors, a trend that will escalate as technology continues to evolve with breakthroughs such as wearable devices, autonomous automobiles and the Internet of Things. The proliferation of data also represents a potential treasure trove of opportunity for companies seeking new sources of revenue and competitive advantages. In fact, 64% of respondents to PwC’s 20th Annual Global CEO Survey

19 January 2017

The Bot, the whole bot and nothing but the bot

By Triin Sober Bots have been getting a bad rep in the news recently. You may have seen articles on ticket touts using botnets to buy up tickets to concerts and events only to sell them on to fans at extortionate prices or smart devices connected to the internet of things being used in cyber attacks. But do we really know what bots are and can they be put to a better use?

09 January 2017

Can big data revolutionise the way we measure results in international development?

By Maaike Platenburg We hear a whole lot about big data these days. For many people, “big data” means a flood of data, but what exactly is it? According to UN Global Pulse, information can be defined as “big data” when the data volume can no longer be managed with normal database tools. Big data is typically characterised by the 3Vs: volume of data, variety of types of data and the velocity at which the data is processed. Big data comes in different ways and can be divided in structured data and unstructured data.

21 December 2016

10 ways financial services organisations are preparing for the GDPR

By Rav Hayer and James Drury-Smith The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will put individuals in control of their personal data, empowering them to choose how (and whether) businesses use their data. Where personal data is not treated correctly, individuals will have increased rights to legal recourse and can, in some instances, claim compensation. Regulators across the EU will have unprecedented power to enforce the legislation and impose hefty fines in instances of non-compliance.

13 December 2016

Data lakes #2: Should I dive in?

By Jon Cooke Data lakes, as I said in my previous blog, are the latest buzz word in analytics. While I warned about jumping into the world of data lakes without thinking carefully about what you want to achieve, I do believe that these data depositories are the long-term future. They have a clear advantage over data warehousing because they offer a non-relational way of looking at your data

06 December 2016

Our Lives in Data vlog: analysing transport data

By Ben Whittingham and David Doyle Transport generates multiple sources of data, and it’s often being used real time. In the third vlog in our series from the 'Our Lives in Data' exhibition at the Science Museum, we've focused on the transport section which displays the inside an Oyster Card reader and a 3D model of Bond Street station.

01 December 2016

Data Governance banana skins - My top ten tips on avoiding a slip up

By Kiran Gill Data Governance banana skins - n sudden, unexpected and sometimes creates embarrassing Data Governance situation, often causing difficulty in realising long-term governance success. Data Governance banana skins can be easily side-stepped or comprehensively planned for if you know what to look out for in advance.

21 November 2016

Data lakes: Look before you leap

By Jon Cooke It’s a feature of developing technology that buzz words tend to appear all of a sudden – everyone is talking about it. At the moment it’s ‘data lakes’, a method of storing Big Data – for which Apache Hadoop is the best-known platform.