Firms Still Grappling with Mobile

Anthony Malakian, US Editor, WatersTechnology

As people escape on vacation, the issue of mobile technology is a timely one.

As I write this, I'm soaking in the sun in Raleigh, North Carolina, on vacation visiting family. Unfortunately, news can’t be put on hold just because I want to go golfing.

So I had to lug my work laptop with me. I've tried making the case that my fellow journalists and I should get Apple iPadsafter all, we're constantly attending conferences and meetings all over the globe, and even when we're on vacation, there's work to be done.

No dice. I’m told there is no clear return on investment from the company’s point of view, and tablets’ security measures are less battle-tested, so my laptop will just have to do.

The stories I write are priceless, of course, so I can sympathize with compliance and IT managers’ fears about allowing, say, sensitive client information, to reside on a device that can practically fit in a salesperson’s pocket.

This is an issue that is being considered at firms all across the buy side: Are mobile devices worth it—from productivity, revenue-generation and security perspectives?

For the September issue of Waters, which will appear online over the next couple of weeks, I wrote a story about how Campbell & Co., one of the nation's oldest and largest managed futures firms, is using a solution from OneMarketData and Panopticon to leverage mobile devicesspecifically iPads—over the coming months to be able to view risk exposures and to capture and store notes based on meetings that happen outside of the office.

Campbell & Co. is actively working with developers to try and fully tap into the power of the iPad. On the other hand, when I recently sat down with BlueMountain's IT team, they told me they were not as enthusiastic about the virtue of mobile devices.

While everybody on BlueMountain’s team has an iPad and enjoys using it, the firm is not working on developing tools for the device. They would like the information that is presented on the screen to look nicer, but it's something they can improve on “in the future,” and is not a pressing matter.

"Tablets are great for consuming information, but they're not good for the way we create information," says Jeff Szilagyi, co-head of quantitative strategy at BlueMountain. "Ultimately, we want to make the information accessible to people from wherever they are, but we don't think there's a lot of commercial value in letting them enter trades or views from a tablet."

Whether you see potential, as Campbell & Co. does, or think like BlueMountain that tablets are nice to have but not business-critical, the month of August when everyone looks to escape their cubicles for sunnier locales is a great time to solidify your firm’s mobile strategy.

If you would like me to test out a tablet for you—or if you'd simply like to chat about issues surrounding mobile technologies—give me a call at 646-490-3973 or send an email to [email protected] I'll be returning to my cubicle next Thursday.


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