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Michael Shashoua, editor, Inside Reference Data
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Inside Reference Data editor Michael Shashoua asks if data professionals feel lucky concerning what parts of operations they seek to preserve

A key idea from the Tokyo Financial Information Summit yesterday, concerning reference data, has to be the suggestion, advanced during a panel discussion among end-users, that reference data operations professionals are becoming more like real business analysts and even partners in the firms' businesses, or even providing an additional layer of internal self-governance to the business.

During this discussion, Miguel Ortega, head of market data at Deutsche Bank Securities, borrowed a phrase from Charlton Heston to describe how much data technology personnel tend to value their Bloomberg terminals, saying they often vow that these would have to be pried out of their "cold, dead hands", by those attempting to cut costs.

But the movie tough-guy to emulate might not be Heston, but rather Clint Eastwood, and not in his Dirty Harry character either. As a director, Eastwood is known for his management of film budgets, always bringing in productions on time and under budget. To hear Ortega and colleagues consider data professionals' changing role, it emerges that they will need to act more like Eastwood the filmmaker than like Heston as National Rifle Association spokesman. That is to say, data professionals will have to continually analyze the data they process to ensure that the operations make business sense – akin to keeping a film production under budget.

Alluding to the value placed on data terminals, David Anderson, director at FISD and Atradia, questioned whether data users should be cut off if they aren't constantly and consistently using those sources, making the analogy that one wouldn't remove a fire extinguisher if it hadn't been used for a few months. Jeremy Green, IPUG Asia and global head of market data at Standard Chartered Bank, countered that a "just-in-time" allocation of resources would be better, for fire extinguishers as for data resources. In fact, that could be taken a step further – one could hold off until the house burned down, to judge whether you really even truly needed the house, Green said, somewhat facetiously.

The question these discussions yields is how far one can truly go in cutting costs of data services, when that would mean prying away essential parts of an operation, when heretofore seemingly essential parts are still necessary, and what are the items that must be kept in data operations to keep production of analysis complete, especially when data operations is likely to be pressed to perform more analysis.

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