BlackRock automates private markets reporting with new eFront technology

BlackRock has launched new machine learning automation capabilities within the eFront Insight platform to minimize the time it takes for investors to receive quarterly reports from managers and gain actionable intelligence from the data. These new capabilities also enable clients to track any data point back to its origin, which can significantly increase trust in their data.

Today, eFront is playing an important role in many key areas impacting the future of private markets. We sat down with Melissa Ferraz, Managing Director at BlackRock and Head of eFront Insight, to learn how the platform is harnessing the power of machine learning for faster, even more accurate results.

Tell us more about this new technology and what sets it apart from other solutions.

We are thrilled to announce that we have introduced patent-pending automation capabilities to our eFront Insight Data Services (IDS). First, a bit of background. IDS is a part of eFront Insight and manages quarterly reporting for our clients, including data collection, transformation, and validation. Reports are delivered within our eFront Insight platform in either standardized templates that can be directly consumed or in bespoke GP formatted documents that historically required manual transformation.

Bringing unique machine learning and natural language processing power to IDS radically improves how we collect, extract, and organize thousands of documents containing unstructured data received by private markets investors. The underlying technology unlocks any document, collecting content in various formats—such as PDF and Word—directly from external portals or email attachments. It then automatically gathers characteristics of the document to quickly extract key metrics and KPIs into a new template, generating easy-to-read reports purpose-built for investors. The technology extracts and digitizes the data that our clients value most such as text, charts and tables, while capturing the relationship between each of them.

For the first time, eFront can digitize the  historical data sets for limited partners. The soon-to-be-launched click-through capability will enable eFront Insight clients to select any quarterly report data point and see its complete audit trail. The investors will be able to track data starting from where it originated and understand how it may have been manipulated along the way.

How will clients benefit?

eFront Insight clients will receive in-depth insights significantly faster than investors who rely on homegrown or third-party technologies and processes. These automation capabilities decrease the time-to-delivery of quarterly reports by reducing how long it takes for data to travel from the source to the client. The toolkit reduces error rates, which reduces manual verification requirements, which, ultimately, considerably improves the efficiency of the whole quarterly reporting process.

More importantly, this is the first use case. We’ll be applying this technology across our alternatives solutions to deliver even more value to our clients. For example, we’re currently increasing our end-user features to extend search, relationship visualization, and self-service data labeling capabilities.

Further application of machine learning will enable clients to search through their entire digitized data repository and understand where a data point came from in just a few clicks. With this innovative feature, our clients can perform analyses faster than ever before and with greater confidence.

How can eFront reach such high data accuracy? What makes it unique?

The eFront automation tool combines confidence levels and intelligent validation with a human-in-the-loop workflow for data verification. It learns from past use cases to get smarter over time.

Rather than needing to pre-define the data points you are searching for, eFront now reads, extracts and stores all the content along with the context in which it’s set. Our philosophy is that if we’re already taking the time to read a document, it makes sense to read and categorize each detail of the document simultaneously.

Today, eFront processes over 25,000 documents every quarter, and growing. This new automation applies its learned intelligence to all files—both new and historical. With access to over one million historical documents of all types, the tool is rapidly expanding its knowledge bank and accelerating its learning process.

Our new technology augments a highly experienced global data services team that provides clients with round-the-clock education and guidance on the meaning and accuracy of extracted data.

The team also monitors the machine learning capabilities, providing it with objective feedback by confirming accuracy and labeling new areas of interest that support our clients’ evolving data needs. Put simply, we tell the system what we want to know and how we want to see it.

What else can we expect from BlackRock?

Our developments over the last twelve months highlight technology’s critical role across both private and public markets. This includes the launch of Whole Portfolio View, which allows investors to view both public and private exposures on one platform. We continue to leverage BlackRock’s unique user-provider model, which we strengthen with additional third-party client intel. These efforts are accelerating the ability of both eFront and Aladdin to provide asset owners and asset managers with clarity on opportunities and risks across both public and private investments.

Learn more about eFront Insight and its Data Services.

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