By Echo Wang, MiM2020
This year, 274 MiM2020 students delivered 48 LondonLAB group consulting projects for clients virtually. Here, Echo Wang MiM2020 shares her experience working with Featurespace, who invented Adaptive Behavioural Insights to help organizations fight fraud and financial crime, through LondonLAB.
Among the wealth of opportunities for experiential learning offered at LBS, LondonLAB offers MiM students a unique opportunity to apply and test their learning in a real-life setting by working with leading London-based companies on group consulting projects.
This year, I had the opportunity to work with Featurespace™, a machine-learning start-up that invented Adaptive Behavioural Analytics to help organizations fight fraud and financial crime. Founded by a Cambridge University Professor and his PhD student in 2008, Featurespace leverages machine learning algorithms to detect fraud in real-time. Their award-winning product, ARIC™ Risk Hub, can detect fraud in real-time and hence minimises operational costs associated with fraud investigation.
Positioning itself as a best-in-class player in the Fraud Detection and Protection (FDP) market, Featurespace was looking to offer the ARIC platform in the form of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) since multiple clients have approached them for it. Now a global organization, the company prioritises understanding the needs of its customers before it lifts and shifts to the SaaS model and brought in two groups of LBS MiM students to help them make this decision.
Teamwork in the context of Covid-19
I worked with four other MiM students from different streams as team B14 to investigate the trends of financial institutions when it comes to deploying FDP solutions. Personally, I chose this project because I wanted to learn more about how technologies could bring changes to the financial industry.
Due to the Covid-19 situation, the working conditions were a bit different this year – from project briefing with the product manager from Featurespace, Joe, to faculty consultations with Jessica – everything was virtual. It was particularly challenging since I returned to my home country several weeks prior to the beginning of LondonLAB and my teammates were all around the world. To accommodate time differences, my team scheduled regular meetings around the same time that would work for everyone.
To kick-off our project, we worked as a group to come up with clarifying questions and an initial framework to tackle the business challenge. After a meeting with their CFO and Head of Sales, we refined our project scope and assigned each team member a topic area to research on, and later developed recommendations both individually and collectively.
Insights and Recommendations
Over the course of ten weeks, we found that although SaaS lacks customisability and decreases profitability in the short-term, it could increase the scalability of the ARIC platform and improve the company’s bottom line in the long-term. In structuring our research, we gathered our insights into three parts: 1. Introduction of SaaS and its trends, 2. Barriers to adoption, and 3. Recommendations.
In part 1 and 2, we established that although the FDP market is growing rapidly, there are some barriers to its full adoption among Featurespace’s target customers. In investigating how soon these barriers would be overcome, we further divided our recommendations into product offerings and geographic strategy with action plans for the next 5 years. We recommended Featurespace to offer a mature SaaS ARIC for small to medium-sized UK/EU financial institutions, given their demonstrated interest in SaaS, and a mature hybrid could ARIC for UK/EU Tier 1 banks due given their complex needs of customisation and regulatory concerns.
In addition to the UK market, we also found US an attractive market for entry since it has low barriers to entry and comprehensive data management regulations. For further market expansion in the APAC region, we only recommended entry to Japan, Korea, and Singapore given regulatory concerns and language requirements.
Impact and Personal Learnings
Presenting research findings and recommendations to the CEO, Product Managers, and many others at Featurespace was an exciting experience for me. During our final presentation, we had some meaningful conversations with the CEO and received very positive feedback on our presentation. With the help of Jessica, our faculty advisor, I got a taste of what a real-life consulting project would be like. Our point of contact, Joe, also supported us thoroughly by coordinating our meetings with upper management and provided invaluable feedback to our research findings.
LondonLAB was a great opportunity for me to put what I have learnt in the past year to use. Working with my hard-working teammates through countless zoom calls, I truly felt the “synergy” generated by our team and found how diversity of opinions could drive a project more efficiently. It was incredible to know more about the commercialisation of machine learning algorithms and how financial institutions are responding to these technological changes.