As Head of Data Architecture and Engineering at Fidelity Investments, Mihir Shah is on the cutting edge of how the financial industry is putting data to work. He joined us for a recent episode of The Data Cloud Podcast to discuss Fidelity’s move to the cloud, executing a successful data strategy, and the important concept of “data liquidity.”

Fidelity is in the process of moving nearly all its applications to a cloud-based infrastructure. As part of that transition it has consolidated its data into a single cloud platform—the Snowflake Data Cloud—which makes it easier for teams and departments across the company to access the data they need.

At one time, Fidelity’s data was spread across more than 100 different data warehouses, data marts, and other data repositories, Mihir said, making it difficult to leverage it for insights. With Snowflake, Fidelity has effectively created an “internal data marketplace,” with a single copy of its data that any team can access with the appropriate permissions.

Mihir discussed the importance of “data liquidity” when building a new architecture. In finance, liquidity refers to how easily an asset or security can be turned into cash without reducing its value. Since data is considered an asset, then we should also ensure data liquidity, he said, meaning the value of that data can be unlocked quickly and easily.

This idea helps to inform Fidelity’s data strategy. With the right data architecture and the right governance model, data can be accessed, shared, and monetized for any use case the company needs it for, according to Mihir.

When conducting a big cloud migration, he advised moving the data to the cloud first. Data is a critical asset, and moving it to the cloud first ensures any applications that are subsequently moved there will have access to the data they need.

Fidelity initially looked at Hadoop for its cloud data platform, Mihir said, but it chose Snowflake because Hadoop lacked the “out of the box” management features that Fidelity requires.

Mihir offered advice to other leaders in the podcast. Acquiring talent is important, he said, but matching talent to the right role is critical: “One of the tenets I believe in is that everybody is talented at something, and if they’re not doing well in a particular role, they’re probably not in the right role.” 

Mihirviews teamwork as a strategic differentiator, and encourages employees to seek out the very best expert on a team and get their input. “If you work as a team and not as an individual,” he said, “you’ll be more successful than anyone.” 
The Data Cloud is a podcast hosted by award-winning author and journalist Steve Hamm. For each episode, Hamm speaks with a data leader to learn how they leverage the cloud to manage, share, and analyze data to drive business growth, fuel innovation, and disrupt their industries. You can listen to more episodes here.