Much of the ancillary work around mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies is complete at this point. But major device providers like Samsung continue to make a play at financial services as Tablets 2.0 offer up better options. Should the buy side still play second fiddle as mobility evolves?
Last Wednesday, Samsung held a grand event introducing its new Galaxy Tab S2, the latest in its line of tablets seeking to compete with Apple's omnipresent iPad.
All of the mainstream technology publications were invited; so too was my colleague, Dan DeFrancesco, and that wasn't a coincidence.
He was able to speak at length with the head of the company's financial services vertical, John Finneran, about the work Samsung has done to make the Tab S2 enterprise worthy — beefing up security, focusing on multi-device integration and containerization, among other things.
Now, this brings me to a bit of personal experience. Our own iPad at home — which is a few years old — recently began showing signs of age, barely holding any charge and freezing up periodically. It's always a sad day when reality hits and you realize that these products, however revolutionary they may seem at first, are ultimately still disposable. Time goes on.
And perhaps that is a metaphor expandable to tablets in the industry, writ large. It's been a few years now with BYOD firmly in the technology fold; firms that originally grew up on the iPad might be at the point in the cycle where they're assessing how things are going, and whether to make a switch or brush up with further improvements.
Some of the most interesting projects I've seen cross my desk have, in fact, come from the mid-tier hedge funds that viewed mobility as a differentiator. The very first time I heard the word "containerization" was from one such project ... now it's among of the top-line priorities for any mobility initiative, big or small.
As Finneran told Dan, the intervening period has also seen developers warm to the Android OS. It's a real option now.
All About That Volume
One interesting thing I took away from Dan's notes on the event is the discrepancy between sell and buy side, and this is nothing new — nor exclusive to Samsung.
The electronics giant is focusing on big targets: a coup here and a windfall there makes the most sense in terms of energy and resource invested, rather than trying to pick off the smaller guys.
"We're in a volume business," Finneran said plainly. And while that certainly can include the larger asset management shops, we're mostly talking about investment banks here.
And that's fair enough. The smaller buy side naturally needs fewer devices managed; it rationally will realize less advantage in terms of scalability. Rightly or wrongly, they're perceived as having less structure and sophistication around mobility policy. And the investment workflow — for example at a credit hedge fund — will often leverage traditional relationships and manual structuring that can't really be captured on or advantaged by tablet functionality whether Android, iOS or otherwise.
"BYOD for a syndicated loans manager is a scenario you're not going to see too often," as Finneran put it.
The most contentious point here is probably around sophistication. Finneran made it clear that competition for BYOD has to do with more than the device itself, and in this sense, the space has really evolved from its 2013 days.
"There is competition within the whole ecosystem now, and there's always going to be diversity. This isn't a monolithic environment," he said.
That goes for everyone. Based on our own dealings at Waters in past years, I wouldn't exactly say the smaller firms are ahead of their larger brethren. But some of the most interesting projects I've seen cross my desk have, in fact, come from the mid-tier hedge funds that viewed mobility as a differentiator. The very first time I heard the word "containerization" was from one such project ... now it's among the top-line priorities for any mobility initiative, big or small.
In the end, the point here is a simple one. Sure, incipient competitors like Samsung should focus their energies on the big boys. The millions in R&D that goes into building a new tablet needs to get paid for somehow.
But this focus shouldn't come at the expense of potentially forward-thinking engagements with the smaller guys. Even if the revenue is comparatively tiny, the value going forward could prove immense — because a lot of the time, there is less bureaucracy to cut through and more flexbility in terms of trying out new solutions.
A sexy new device is great; knowing how to put the BYOD building blocks together in an innovative way is even better.
Anthony and James look at developments pertaining to the Consolidated Audit Trail and wonder if big-tech companies could challenge traditional asset managers.Subscribe to Weekly Wrap emails
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