As so often , the FT story by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson ( April 13)   on Thomson Reuters was story of the week for me . As once in the mighty battles of Lexis and Westlaw , so now in the generational remake of the two financial market giants , there is something of the Great Game in the air . The competitive urges are fired by understandable needs for demonstrable success , yet at the same time the subject matter is the very stuff of which the future of all sectors of the information marketplace will be made.

The Thomson Reuters markets division will become two simplified platforms by the autumn , dealing with enterprize users on the one hand , and individual users and small operators on the other . These platforms will be web-based , and the Thomson Reuters servers will be able to be moved alongside  client servers to ensure lower operational costs . The web -based environments clearly are designed to appeal to a new generation in the industry which joined since trading platforms were in place , as well as providing a contrast with the Bloomberg insistence on its dedicated terminals ( Shades of the dedicated Lexis box ! )

And something else as well . Andrew quotes Devin Wenig, the CEO of Thomson Reuters Markets , as saying ” The industry is a hugely different place from where it was in April 2008 ( when the Thomson Reuters merger took place ) and we think a lot of changes are permanent and structural. Big banks are disapearingbut we’ve created 1000 new accounts in …six months ”

And there is surely the essence . Players in rapidly restructuring networked markets will themselves have to be slimmer , do more on less and enable their clients to do more in the network at least for the same pricing . And that new generation of clients will expect a  greater fluency in customization and personalization  along with better risk management and improved collaboration features ( the launch of Eikon ) as well as interfaces to news and information ( like Insider ) which source video as well as text and allow brokers to offer analysis on video to their clients across the platform .

In short , Thomson Reuters are , with a few exceptions , facing very similar issues to those faced by a Pearson in education , or an Elsevier in STM . And from here on in the parallelism ceases and turns into convergence . Thomson Reuters announced a deal last week to bring Palantir’s QA Studio software to its platforms . This type of quantitative analysis allows data exploration , do pattern identification , test alpha strategies and collaborate . This pushes on with the developments in data mining began with ClearForest three years ago , and again parallels what is alreday happening ( Palantir’s markets are the intelligence , defense and law enforcement communities  ! )

Where does the next push come ? Well , data management is now crucial , and so is compliance and risk management/reduction . And that sounds just like the issues facing diagnostic systems in the medical marketplaces . Often in financial markets there is too much news , and it is insufficiently auto or machine analysed , and human intervention takes too long : this points towards further pressure for automated news tagging so that it can be submitted directly to computerized trading systems . And here another common broad market problem occurs . Users and regulators begin to exert pressure at the lowest levels of data organization for common standards to emerge  ( XBRL would be the case study in the finance field ). This moves the competition zone up a level , but that competitive element must remain because it drives everything forward . Without it , common standards turn into a reason for not changing anything . So play up , lads and play the game ! We still have to tackle workflow and process improvement before the end of this long information industry day !


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