Opening Cross: Mmmm… Data!

Bacon is like data—delicious, porky data.

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The human body’s sense of smell is a remarkable thing: an all-inclusive data capture, processing and storage mechanism that allows us to savor a smell, recognize its source, and correlate it with events and memories, such as the smell of a roasting turkey at Christmas. For me, and for many omnivores—after all, there are recipe books and TV series devoted entirely to this topic—one of the most satisfying smells is the unmistakable, mouthwatering scent of bacon sizzling in a pan or on a grill. But beyond that, everyone’s preferences differ. In the UK, bacon is typically lightly cooked with the rind to leave the bacon floppy and juicy, whereas US consumers typically grill rind-less strips of bacon crispy and well-done.

My point is this: bacon is like data—delicious, porky data. Essentially, the same raw ingredient, but which can be sourced from different cuts, sliced differently, smoked or flavored with additional ingredients, and cooked in different ways—either as a standalone item, or as part of a plate of food, or as an ingredient used to add structure, texture or flavor to a more complex dish.

When Brits think bacon, we often think Danish, as the Danes produce some of the tastiest bacon in Europe. And Denmark-based foreign exchange data and analytics front-end vendor NetDania is releasing a suite of new charting tools for users to sink their teeth into, including more than 200 new studies, two subsequent additional charting packages to be rolled out later this year, and an upcoming cloud hosted version of its platform with new alerting capabilities.

NetDania isn’t the only one looking to disrupt the analytics market with a tasty alternative: Data management and analytics software vendor DataGenic is moving into the front-end space with plans for a desktop product aimed at commodities traders, which the vendor says will provide “intelligent” decision support capabilities by leveraging unstructured datasets in addition to traditional market data to provide more context and insight.

Meanwhile, much as a restaurant may buy its bacon from one farm that delivers the best taste or value, trading technology vendor ORE Tech has renewed and extended a deal to use FX options volatility data from interdealer broker GFI’s Fenics data and analytics division in its options trading platforms. ORE officials say GFI’s data provides a deeper view of the FX market and allows it to in turn offer better products to its clients, much as using better-quality bacon in a sandwich or a carbonara sauce ultimately makes those meals taste better overall.

Meanwhile, Euronext is re-tooling its index calculation and distribution platform to allow it to create more custom indexes for banks, investment firms and research houses in addition to the exchange’s own index series. Essentially, the exchange realizes it can sell more “bacon” if it allows customers to decide how they want it cooked, rather than offering just its own recipe and expecting everyone will appreciate the same flavors. Instead, index owners looking for specific styles and components can have as big or as small a role in the recipe and cooking of their “bacon” as they want, while being able to outsource the calculation, promotion and licensing/controls, safe in the knowledge that their indexes comply with the latest benchmark standards.

And just as we return to the tastes that we love, people return to areas with which they are familiar. For example, in this week’s Herd column, we report how David Carson, who worked at Wombat Financial Software between 2006 and 2009, has joined SR Labs, which last year acquired the Wombat platform from NYSE. One of my first bosses even applied bacon to the hiring process, asking candidates how they make a bacon sandwich—not because there’s a wrong way to do it, but because it showed the nuances of each candidate and forced them to explain and justify their choice.

So when you think of a new data source, try thinking of bacon and sauce—it may give you some fresh ideas. And if nothing else, it’ll help work up an appetite.

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