Business Partner Screening: Is This A Big Data Problem?

Jerome Pugnet

In today’s hyper-connected economy, most companies find themselves operating in fast-expanding business networks that offer them a wide range of growth opportunities: develop new activities, reach new markets and customers, sub-contract labor-intensive work or outsource non-core competencies, build joint ventures or expand sales through partners, and so on. One common element in all this is that it also increases exponentially the number of business partners they deal with: customers, suppliers, agents or representatives, contractors, service providers, consultants, and local agencies, to name a few.

The widespread availability of technologies that make connections easy within and across borders and accelerate the circulation of information and documents through those business networks is a powerful enabler, but the corollary of this is an increase of companies’ exposure to a wide range of risks, along with more complexity and workload for the teams that administer business partners.

If one looks at the risk aspect, many types come to mind. Engaging with customers, suppliers, and other types of business partners always involved financial and commercial risks, but other types of risk, such as fraud, cybercrime, bribery and corruption or other compliance risks, and of course reputation risk — de-multiplied by the generalization of free information websites and social media — have expanded even faster for companies than their business networks. So more than ever, you really need to know the businesses, organizations, and individuals you’re dealing with.

  • Are they operating in compliance with international, local and industry regulations and standards?
  • Have they been involved in illegal activities?
  • Are they politically exposed?
  • Do they have operations in sensitive geographies?
  • Have they recently been faced with adverse media?

Companies have naturally started to take measures and turned to available technologies to help them check data on their business partners, but they have faced challenges, such as:

  • the multiplicity of lists to track and ensuring the data in them is current
  • the high volume (and fast-growing) volume of data to screen
  • the amount of effort to develop and maintain their screening tools and the reliance on skilled IT resources, which are generally scarce and costly
  • the excessive numbers of false alerts generated, and the subsequent waste of effort for their investigators who analyze these alerts

And in spite of these investments and efforts, the process doesn’t seem sufficiently reliable, and too many non-compliant, risk-prone business partners remain undetected.

Current tools also may not have the flexibility to easily adapt to new requirements that arise as companies expand into new markets or new geographies, or when they grow by acquisitions.

Last, the risks that undesirable business partners can represent necessitate prompt action to stop existing transactions with the third party in question as soon as possible. The time it takes to process alerts may not allow that, and by the time the problem is acknowledged financial losses may have already been incurred.

Looking at all these facts, we at SAP have developed a solution to really change the game. It will help companies source data from multiple lists, screen the high volume of data on business partner a lot faster and with much greater accuracy. This is made possible by the availability of the in-memory computing technology of SAP HANA, which responds to these types of Big Data problems. Find out how SAP Business Partner Screening solution, built on the SAP HANA platform, provides the capability and speed help users process needed to access critical information and qualify cases or escalate when needed.


Jerome Pugnet

About Jerome Pugnet

Jérôme Pugnet is a senior director of GRC Product Marketing at SAP SE, based in London, and has over 12 years of experience in risk and compliance management, business process control, IT governance, fraud and audit management domains, in particular in the financial services industry. He has over 16 years of previous experience on financial software and ERP, in implementation engagements and pre-sales advisory roles.