Opening Cross: The Path to Growth Is ‘Clear’

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If I have one pet peeve, it’s bad writing in business communications and materials. Perhaps, as a writer, I’m overly sensitive to this. But perhaps business professionals, should be, too—because as the industry starts to look past the cost cuts of recent years to identify potential growth opportunities in 2013, getting a shot at those opportunities may hinge on something as simple as whether you spell a word correctly, or how you phrase a sentence.

What raised my hackles on the subject this week was a newspaper article entitled “Stone Temple Pilot fires Scott Weiland,” which not only referred twice to “the bang” instead of “the band,” but also spelled its name wrong. If there’s one thing that instantly turns people off, it’s seeing their own name or company name (or “bang” name) spelled incorrectly. And considering how obsessed our industry is with the accuracy and quality of data—on which it bases purchasing decisions—why would anyone be less fastidious about the accuracy and quality of other types of messages?

Another thing that turns people off is making them invest more time than necessary in trying to understand something that should be simple. For example, Inside Market Data often deals with some fairly technical subject matter, so we figure the least we can do for subscribers is to make it as readable as possible (even if we can’t make the finer qualities of Python versus the K or R programming languages sexy to all but the most hardcore geeks among us).

I’m not alone. I recall a conversation with a software company chief executive many years ago in London, where the CEO bemoaned staff who thought email eliminated the need for formal letter-writing style, or who thought spelling mistakes, sloppy grammar and text-messaging abbreviations were excusable in business communications. This CEO understood the value of reviewing a message before sending, and using spellcheck, because he realized that sloppy communications can damage the perception of a company and damage its growth potential.

Likewise, if a company’s press releases or marketing materials are convoluted or incomprehensible, journalists will be less inclined to try to understand what you do, resulting in less media coverage. The same probably goes for industry analysts, and perhaps even potential clients: if you can’t give your “elevator pitch” quickly and clearly, you lose the listener’s interest—and possibly their business.

Hence, clarity will be essential to capitalizing on growth opportunities. And clearly, growth is there for the taking: Commodity futures market Cleartrade Exchange is seeking to raise a further $15 million, growing its shareholders, its participants, as well as the contracts it trades and provides data on. Meanwhile, UK-based datacenter provider Volta is putting the finishing touches to a new facility in central London that the vendor believes will be able to capitalize on demand from firms attempting latency arbitrage strategies. At the other end of the spectrum, data technology vendor MDX has partnered with hardware ticker plant provider Exegy to allow firms to better manage datafeed assets centrally, by allowing data captured via Exegy’s appliance to be used in spreadsheets for non-latency-sensitive analysis, while a new module being rolled out by data management and analysis software vendor Xenomorph will help firms monitor risk factors centrally.

Bucking this centralization trend is Citigroup, which is disbanding a central expense management group as part of a reorganization of its Operations & Technology division, resulting in the departure of managing director and global head of market data Don Madura. While at Citi, Madura’s team won two Inside Market Data Awards for data and cost management projects—speaking of which, voting for this year’s awards is not far off. In this year’s call-for-entry categories, we’ve rewritten the entry criteria to reduce any confusion around who and what is eligible. In return, all we ask is that you make your entries equally clear. It doesn’t guarantee a win, but it certainly helps.

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