Features and functionality are nice, but without a decent front end, even the most advanced trading engine can have a false start.
My apartment is slowly becoming cloud based. I was struck by this the other day, when, answering e-mails on my iPad while on my living room's sofa, I was listening to music streaming from my computer two floors up, pausing briefly to control my television through my tablet, which in itself was taking content from my house mate's computer next door.
At the same time, I bought a song from iTunes on my phone, which instantly appeared in my Mac's computer library, shortly before I moved back upstairs and started pushing music from my computer, wirelessly, to my dock. All of this was done within a minute or two, which really emphasizes how usability is a key consideration for technology across the board.
After all, a Maserati is a very pretty machine, but without the right dashboards and controls, it's just an engine in a nicely shaped metal box.
It's a current theme in recent Waters features and articles, as well. Tim Murray covered it in his user experience story, while my esteemed editor touches on it in his February letter. Likewise, while in New York a few weeks ago, I saw how usability was at the core of MarketAxess's rates platform, featuring grouped indices and products through a decent interface that can be accessed with the minimum of clicks and movements.
Often we focus a lot around the guts of a technology development, such as high-frequency trading, combined execution and order management systems, the features of smart order routers and developing high rates of straight-through processing, without taking into account the most basic factors. After all, a Maserati is a very pretty machine, but without the right dashboards and controls, it's just an engine in a nicely shaped metal box.
For consumers, as demonstrated by the technology in my home, ease of use has been a key factor for a long time. Apple has pretty much built its business and predicated its continued success on this very idea for the past ten years. For the financial services industry, with the growth of mobile platforms and cloud, it'll only continue to be important.
To finish up, a quick reminder that nominations for the first annual Sell-Side Technology Awards are still open. You have until March 13 to put yourselves forward, so get submitting. The interest we've seen so far has been spectacular─it promises to be a great event, and we look forward to hosting you in New York on April 23.
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