Last week’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference played host to the FIBO (Financial Business Industry Ontology) Technology Summit. The event, which saw some 60 conference participants from the semantic web, financial industry and other sectors, as well as academia, was led by David S. Newman, SVP & Strategic Planning Manager Enterprise Architecture, at Wells Fargo and Chair of the Enterprise Data Management Council’s Semantics Program, and Dennis E. Wisnosky, founder of Wizdom Systems who is providing technical strategy and operational guidance to the Council for finalizing and implementing FIBO standards.
“This was a tremendous milestone for FIBO and FIBO’s full evolution,” Newman told The Semantic Web Blog following the event. It brought “together a lot of smart people working with semantic technology for a number of years to get their insights into how to further mature FIBO, as well as how to mature the technology, so that FIBO can really resonate with the regulatory community and the financial industry, so that it will have some real solid traction, be able to truly scale to the needs of the constituencies” – that is, not only financial institutions but the entire financial system. Says Newman, “That’s a big, tall order.”
The idea behind FIBO is to standardize the language used to precisely define the terms, conditions, and characteristics of financial instruments; the legal and relationship structure of business entities; the content and time dimensions of market data; and the legal obligations and process aspects of corporate actions. As an open-source, global financial initiative, it is planned to bring health to the financial system, through defining a vast amount of information semantically and providing a better capability for the industry and its regulators to look at more complex patterns and relationships of information in friendlier ways than conventional technology can offer.
At a session following the FIBO Technology Summit at last week’s conference, Wisnosky, also formerly the chief architect and CTO of the Department of Defense, explained one way the financial industry should view FIBO. Today, he said, financial institutions “spend hundreds of millions of dollars gathering data for regulators, with no advantage internally. The carrot [of FIBO] is to reduce those costs.” Ignore the carrot and wait for regulators to ask for more data, and watch costs go up. Added Newman, “if information is highly trustworthy, then the perception of risk regulators have of the financial industry might be lessened, if they can govern and certify an institution aligns with a common data standard, which is FIBO in our proposal.”
During that session, Newman also brought up some of the outcomes of the FIBO Technology Summit, such as discussions that were held about challenges to defining regulatory rules that are more complex and beyond the means of OWL 2 DL and SWRL. In his conversation with The Semantic Web Blog following the conference, he provided more details.