Being heavily reliant on data requires implementing the right tools to allow for seamless and efficient extraction of that data. Marcel Donkers, CIO at BDO Netherlands, discusses the global audit and accounting company’s need for a comprehensive solution that could deliver capabilities for enterprise search, and tells us how Sinequa’s solution enabled it to extract deep, relevant insights to operate more efficiently.
Leading enterprise search provider, Sinequa, has announced that financial services company, BDO Netherlands, has chosen Sinequa’s technology to accelerate its global expansion strategy. Sinequa’s platform will enable BDO employees to surface insights from the company’s content and data and deliver greater value to its clients. This will enable BDO Netherlands to go further, faster by facilitating rapid development of insight applications that improve decision-making, increase productivity, accelerate innovation and create competitive advantage.
Marcel Donkers, CIO at BDO Netherlands, said: “Data drives everything we do, from informing our advisory services to engaging worldwide partners, employees and clients, to enabling our digital services. BDO sees a bright future with highly differentiated business solutions that create value for our clients and key stakeholders. The Sinequa platform goes well beyond traditional enterprise search and will be instrumental in taking BDO to its next level of maturity and sustained growth.”
BDO Netherlands is an independent member firm of BDO International Limited. With more than 2,600 employees, it is the fastest-growing global audit and accounting network in the world, operating in 167 countries and connecting over 90,000 people in 1,650 offices worldwide. As BDO Netherlands’s digital resources and services expand, it’s imperative that advisers can easily derive insights from vast amounts of structured data and unstructured content from across the organisation.
BDO was looking for a comprehensive solution that could deliver capabilities for enterprise search. BDO selected Sinequa due to its comprehensive cognitive search and analysis capabilities, complementary technologies for building powerful search-based insight applications, advanced Natural Language Processing including Dutch and German language support, and integration with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365. The broad portfolio of connectors was also a major differentiator, with robust support for M-Files, a key application at BDO. Sinequa enables companies like BDO to extract deep, relevant insights to operate more efficiently.
We caught up with Marcel Donkers, CIO at BDO Netherlands, to glean some further insight into the ways the organisation utilised Sinequa’s platform, and the benefits it has provided.
What does a typical day in the life of a CIO look like at BDO Netherlands?
BDO is heavily reliant on data. Our mission, therefore, is to optimise how data is used across the organisation to ensure we can get the most out of the rich information we have and deliver excellent services to our clients as a result. As CIO, my work is focused on maturing our existing processes and improving the way we handle our data and systems for clients.
How have you accelerated your global expansion strategy as an organisation since using Sinequa’s technology?
As an organisation, we came to enterprise search later than we probably should have. We have worked successfully at BDO to prevent our data from becoming siloed. However, we found ourselves facing the question of how to make our data accessible and expand the potential uses of that data to drive the business forward. Moreover, while we understood that search was a key part of the Digital Transformation strategy to enable us to maximise the potential of our data, it was important that our executives were able to understand the value of such a tool before investing in it.
Sinequa demonstrated its RoI by working with us to build a proof-of-concept to present to key stakeholders within the company. The proof-of-concept showed the value Sinequa can bring in maturing our data-oriented strategy. We now have a foundation upon which we can continue to build our data strategy and add further technology solutions to improve our data capabilities, and we are starting to see the benefits of this already. Should we see continued success and a great improvement in our RoI as a result of Sinequa, then there is huge potential for it to assist our business growth internationally.
How has the Sinequa platform meant BDO has been able to operate more efficiently and deliver superior services to its clients?
Employees across the company have a single point of entry to search for all enterprise data. As well as this, Sinequa is providing us with department-specific search applications, tailored to the unique needs of each department. The solution is suited to the needs of the individual people using the data and the specific use cases for that data.
Sinequa enables us to cut down the time spent looking for relevant information. The time saved can be spent on more important work that helps us deliver even better services to clients. We now see these improvements in efficiency as critical to our business and ensure the time saved for each employee helps us improve our quality of work overall.
How important is structured data for your business model and how does it drive the organisation forward?
Data is at the heart of what we do at BDO. From auditing to risk assurance, our services rely on effective analysis of data to deliver the best results for our clients. While much of this data is structured, with defined fields and parameters, it is unstructured data that is the real gamechanger for our industry. Unstructured data is not easily defined like structured data and it can come from a wide variety of sources including CRM systems, email exchanges, earnings transcripts, survey responses and even video call transcripts. This makes it more difficult to handle, but it’s also extremely valuable, offering greater insight into customer needs and market trends. Extracting value from this kind of data is difficult without the correct tools.
Sinequa’s natural language processing capabilities enable us to understand our unstructured data, meaning we can extract insights and information that might otherwise remain buried in a document or email thread. Ultimately, this means we can obtain a more detailed idea of a customer’s needs or the trends that will affect our customers. Extracting insights from unstructured data therefore allows us to deliver better services to our clients.
How are you now able to extract greater value from your vast quantities of data more rapidly and how does this impact operations?
We see Sinequa as a foundational solution that is a core part of our strategy to become an increasingly data-oriented organisation. At a fundamental level, Sinequa allows us to extract insights from our existing data thanks to its intelligent search functions, but the solution is also helping us to build greater access to and understanding of data across our organisation. One benefit of Sinequa that is absolutely essential for us is the platform’s ability to understand language context in multiple languages, including Dutch. This means the platform isn’t only looking for Dutch terms in isolation, but instead, it is using its understanding of semantic meaning to determine what’s relevant to the search and what’s not. The intelligent capabilities of the platform speed up the process of finding what we need, saving employees time that can be spent focused on quality work instead. The ability to find information more rapidly also means we can move more quickly to meet the needs of customers.
How do you predict the organisation will evolve over the next 12 months, from a technology standpoint?
BDO is moving rapidly to take advantage of new technologies that can enhance our performance and improve our services for customers. In the last couple of years we have implemented a comprehensive platform which gives us the capability to design and implement various data-oriented client services.
We are working on new data-driven (managed) services utilising ML and AI capabilities present in our platform. This is based on research projects we have executed in the last couple of months. Furthermore, we are evolving to the next level of data maturity by improving data quality and governance, and improving accessibility to data (documents and information) for our colleagues with platforms such as Sinequa search.
In the next couple of months, our effort will be focused on further opening up the platform for a tighter collaboration between BDO, customers and partners as we implement and promote our new digital services.Click below to share this article