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Solving the Data Access Problem

Mr. Scheuble is executive vice president for product development and strategy at the mortgage division of Fidelity Information Services. He has 23 years of experience in the financial services technology area, with the last 11 being devoted specifically to the mortgage industry.

In an industry notorious for inaccessible data, disparate data sources, inconsistent formats and stubborn integration challenges, the idea of simple, enterprisewide mortgage data access seems like something from an Orson Wells novel - futuristic and unlikely.

Or is it? If your organization is like most, you are faced with multiple system platforms supporting a variety of core functions and processes. Data is held hostage in a myriad of ways, with packets of information only accessible through narrowly defined channels, and rarely aggregated and centralized for access by all systems and authorized users. Tackling an enterprisewide data integration project can seem monumental and cost prohibitive, unless you think outside the box. Unless you think about the power and simplicity of Web Services technology.

Web Services is the name given to the collection of standards that extend the extensible markup language (XML) to define the interaction between two or more systems. It can become the foundation of an enterprise application integration (EAI) layer that enables the real-time, dynamic flow of information across the extended enterprise with security, flexibility and speed of implementation. Web Services technology not only facilitates real time, system-to-system access to data, but can also facilitate business-to-business transactions with third parties that need access to the same data.

This approach can bring interoperability to a fragmented mortgage industry struggling to solve its data access and integration challenges. The gateway to data content collapses from multiple entry points to a single channel, enabling the sharing of mortgage data across processes from originations to final disposition. Internal users and external partners can conduct transactions and benefit from the real-time, bidirectional flow of data between lenders and their service providers. And the speed of mortgage servicing processes will enhance customer satisfaction and generate cost savings across the extended enterprise.

One example of how Web Services can solve the data access problem is unfolding today at Fidelity Information Services. The company began by recruiting a talented team of technology strategists to design and deliver an enterprisewide data access approach. Tapping into the business-to-business infrastructure already rooted in the company's InterChange functionality (a connectivity suite) and Mortgage PhD business partner network (www.mortgagephd.com), the team embarked on an aggressive path to leverage these products and build a virtual directory to centralize data access.

When data is truly free and accessible, business intelligence soars. Since Web Services enables real-time access to data, analysis is timely and relevant. There is multichannel data consistency across the enterprise, so even analysis approached from different perspectives will produce results that are reliable and coherent. Data can be further enhanced with flexible and efficient reporting and extraction tools, and when coupled with the EAI capability, lenders and their partners could also access industry data and analytical models from a centralized data warehouse. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination!

Web Services technology is not just the game. It's the ball. It is an open, economical, secure and flexible approach to creating enterprisewide access to data. The technology can be used to build a holistic environment that minimizes handoffs, shrinks processing timeframes and streamlines application development and support. It overcomes the complexities of disparate data sources, data formats and channels. As a valuable byproduct, data integrity is tremendously enhanced across the entire extended organization. By providing immediate tactical relief to data integration challenges, Web Services technology will allow organizations to become smarter, more competitive, faster to market and more profitable.

Problem solved.

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