Hard Labor: Dealing With Alternative Data

Everyone’s excited about the potential untapped alpha promised by “alternative data,” yet those who work with it are far from excited about the prospect of evaluating unwieldy and unstructured datasets. Max Bowie looks at the practical challenges of dealing with these, and how firms are using automation and third-party platforms to speed up the process and start generating alpha faster.

And in today’s financial markets, just as in the gold rush, when you strike a seam, you have to move fast to mine its value before others start digging in the same place, and approach it as industrially as possible. 

But how can you industrialize a process where each and every dataset represents a completely new terrain to dig in? And how can firms speed up the process of evaluating which seams will yield the richest results? Because as any “49er” would know, the hardest part isn’t digging out

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