Pity my colleagues in London: Last Tuesday, workmen severed an ISDN cable in the street outside our office, cutting off all internet, phone, email and server access. Then on Wednesday, an explosion at an adjacent power sub-station forced a building evacuation, preventing services from being restored, and highlighting the usefulness of alternative secure communication platforms.
In the financial markets, this need is spurring interest in alternative platforms, such as Markit’s Collaboration Services suite of messaging tools, which US investment bank Jefferies signed up for last week, becoming the tenth bank to join the platform. The timing of Markit’s announcement about Jefferies may be a coincidence, or may be a deliberate show of strength in response to reports that a consortium of Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs, are considering acquiring Palo Alto, CA-based Perzo, which provides a free secure messaging platform for individuals and enterprises.
Aside from working at Avaya, Skype, and a host of telecom providers prior to founding Perzo two years ago, chief executive David Gurlé spent seven years at Bloomberg and Markit rival Thomson Reuters as global head of collaboration services, and certainly knows his way around the institutional enterprise space.
Someone else who knows his way around the institutional enterprise is former Chi-X Europe chief operating officer Hirander Misra, now chief executive of exchange technology platform provider—and soon-to-be derivatives market operator—Global Markets Exchange Group, which has begun testing datafeeds for its upcoming trading platforms with vendors whose clients want to connect to the new venues when they launch. GMEX has basic rules governing distribution of its data to protect its intellectual property, but wants to make it as easy as possible to connect to and distribute its data as broadly as possible to win market share.
This aim of achieving broad distribution is behind the majority of deals between different parties in this industry, including recent distribution agreements between Thomson Reuters and Platts, Deutsche Börse and the Philippine Stock Exchange, and a deal agreed by French fundamental data provider Infinancials and Norwegian data vendor Infront with FactSet Research Systems to consolidate both vendors’ equities fundamental data on FactSet’s content, rationalizing duplicative datasets.
Rationalizing services to create operational efficiencies is one of the reasons that Jefferies joined Markit’s network. But another is no doubt the fact that Markit filled a gap in the market at the perfect moment. Seeking to do exactly that in the area of emerging markets macroeconomic data is Exchange Data International, which is expanding its AFED African economic database and enhancing the functionality of its interface based on client feedback, following a lengthy project to create the initial version. Officials say AFED is the only such product offering data from reliable sources, and that the vendor will continue to expand it with more data from reliable sources.
For many, “reliable sources” makes us think of newswires such as Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Dow Jones. And in a bid to open up more of its content and make it easier—physically and commercially—to access its content, Dow Jones has made a raft of branding and structural changes to its Professional Information (formerly known as Institutional business) and Product areas. At first glance, it looks as though Dow Jones’ new management is carefully unpicking much of the work of former CEO Lex Fenwick, who left the vendor abruptly at the start of this year following a drop-off in institutional revenues widely blamed on policies introduced during his tenure (IMD, Jan. 22, 2014). However, a spokesperson says the new changes are an ongoing evolution of the company’s organization. And with more flexible commercial policies and a focus on staff engagement, the changes look to be for the better.
Let’s hope all the other initiatives in this week’s IMD have similarly positive results.
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