Behind the Idea: Engine B

Engine B is a digital technology company that specializes in data ingestion and knowledge graph-based tools for auditors. Its technology helps auditors ingest, standardize and analyze customer data to enrich their decision-making process, resulting in better quality audits and greater added value for the end customer.

Working with major industry partners, such as Microsoft, the ICAEW, the world’s leading audit firms, and academic institutions, their collaborative approach to technology development aims to increase market openness and create leading intellectual property for professional services.

Shamus Ray, co-founder and CEO of Engine B
Shamus Ray, co-founder and CEO of Engine B

Shamus Ray, Founder and CEO of Engine B and was previously Head of Innovation, Digital Work, and Knowledge Transformation at KPMG.

What is the company’s traditional response to fintech innovations nationwide?

Traditional companies (or legacy actors as we tend to describe them in our B2B fintech area) realize that fintech will be faster and enable more innovation than legacy technology. Having said that, I will describe their attitude as “active lethargy”. They are happy to do business with fintech companies, but in the end they don’t really want to change. Moving to the implementation phase with fintech innovations is the biggest challenge. It will happen, but it is as much about cultural and mental change as it is about harnessing technology.

How has this changed over the past few years?

The Covid pandemic has unlocked more technological potential for all organizations as everyone needed to innovate quickly to operate during lockdowns. One of the most impactful technological advances brought about by the pandemic has been the way more organizations are moving their workloads to the cloud – something that was done out of necessity but maintained because of the huge benefits that have been achieved. After this shift, it became difficult for companies to argue against the change. It has naturally removed a lot of cultural barriers to technological disruption which is a very positive thing in the end.

Is there something that creates a culture of change within the company?

We are a startup so the culture of change has been in our DNA since day one. The stated purpose of the B engine was consistent and was about creating positive change through the intelligent use of cutting-edge technology. This means that as a company we are comfortable with driving change forward, both for us internally and for the organizations we work with.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

Instead of creating isolated solutions, we saw inspiring results when we took a more collaborative approach. When we work collaboratively, not only do we share resources, but we are able to draw from a variety of perspectives to develop a more complex solution to a common problem. We have worked with organizations including Microsoft and the ICAEW To create common data models for the open source industry, accelerating our mission to make company data more accessible and thereby increasing openness in the professional services sector.

What benefits did this bring?

Through shared data standards, improved data access, and the implementation of industry-wide commons data models, we will see increased competition within the sector and enable existing and new entrants to the market to deliver significantly improved quality of service. Collaboration is certainly the way forward if we are to pave the way for broader adoption of fintech and higher levels of innovation.

Do you see any other industrial challenges on the horizon?

Regulators are increasingly trying to drive change and this is both an opportunity and a challenge. Additionally, regulatory data processing will be key as the financial services industry opens up, and competition and innovation intensify within the sector.

But more important in my view is the challenge associated with ensuring that we do not attempt to return to “normal” while we recover from the pandemic. The gains we’ve made, both culturally and technologically, during the pandemic need to be captured so we can accelerate innovation.

Can fintech help address these challenges?

One of the best ways to drive change forward is to open the market to more competition. A more dynamic market, with a more equal playing field on which established players and new entrants to the market can compete, is something that fintech can help achieve through innovations including shared data models.

Simplifying data complexity by providing a common data language for business and analytics applications is critical, making it possible to share data and its meaning across business applications and processes.

Final thoughts…

There are huge opportunities now for fintech players to realize their ambitions and make a real difference. Simplifying the complexity of data has largely leveled the playing field, and the benefits of fintech and digital financial services, apparent for a while, have become indisputable as a result of the pandemic. The next 12 months will be a game changer – we can’t wait to be part of this seismic change.

  • Polly Jane Harrison

    Polly is a North Wales journalist, content creator and opinion-maker. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, technology, lifestyle and body positivity.

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