Opening Cross: Want Ketchup and Mustard on Your Data Dog?

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What do sausages and market data have in common? A complex mix of ingredients, a balancing act of flavors to satisfy any hunger, a list of tasty add-ons, and a ravenous consumer base. So dig in!

Ever since the well-researched accounts of the meatpacking industry described in Upton Sinclair’s 1906 fictionalized social commentary The Jungle, people have always been a little suspicious of what ends up in their sausages. But the truth is that finding the right mix of the correct ingredients (hopefully not including floor sweepings, appendages of meat processing plant workers, or whatever rodents fall into the machinery) can be an art: the differences between an oily, piquant chorizo, a dense, dry and spicy Italian sausage, the good old British banger and a juicy American hot dog don’t just depend on the cuts of meat, breed of animal or spices used, but can also depend on the proportion of fillers such as rusk, and the ratio of fat to lean meat, which can vary according to how the sausage is best cooked.

So in some ways, this week’s IMD is a veritable sausage-fest, covering pretty much the whole range of ingredients that contribute to making mere intestine-encased ground meat—that is to say, everything from analytics to indexes, from search to small-caps, and from CEP to co-location—into the perfect porker.

The traditional ingredients of any successful data platform include quote data, news and analytics, among other features. One challenge is mixing these together while still bringing out the unique flavors of each without overwhelming the other ingredients. For example, Chicago-based data and investment research provider Morningstar’s UK subsidiary has added UK-focused equities news from startup Alliance News, so users can view relevant news alongside company data. But while access to news is essential, too much news can be counter-productive and simply swamp the user with content. Hence, German data vendor VWD is rolling out a feature as part of the latest version of its Market Manager terminal that allows users to more rigorously filter the news they receive from the various sources carried by VWD, to ensure the most relevant items are displayed.

Of course, the relevant parts of the animal that end up in sausages are usually pretty distasteful. However, this Superbowl Sunday, most people probably won’t think twice about what’s in that hot dog.

And like the Superbowl, when it comes to market share in the data industry, there can be only one winner. Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters share the biggest chunk of the pie, with Bloomberg having overtaken its rival in recent years. But Thomson Reuters is fighting back with continued enhancements to its Eikon next-generation desktop terminal, putting the emphasis on search and navigating the wealth of content within the platform, aiming to counter Bloomberg’s sophistication and complexity with intuitive simplicity. Meanwhile, Bloomberg is responding by adding even more sophisticated functions, such as enhancing the real-time trading analytics in its EMSX execution management system, using OneMarketData’s OneTick complex event processing engine.

Certainly, like a quarterback searching for a perfect path through the undulating scrum, being able to spot opportunities by looking at data in new ways depends on the ability to develop value-add analytics as the underlying content itself becomes increasingly commoditized—hence the importance of Bloomberg’s analytics and those being proffered by Quartet FS to perform detailed point-in-time analysis of events that cause breaches of position limits.

And increasingly, we expect all these features to be included at no—or nominal—extra cost, much as we expect onions, ketchup and mustard to come as standard on our hot dogs. So when you chow down on your Superbowl hot dog this weekend, take a moment to think about what goes into making a product so tasty, filling and satisfying. And if that doesn’t put you off entirely, it will hopefully make you appreciate the complexity of the market data meat-packing process.

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