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Trading floor innovation shows the way

The Wall Street Journal carried an interesting glimpse into the future of investment house trading floors. (Stick with me on this – it’s a 10-year out picture.) The thrust of the article is that over time, the statistical and other forecasting tools used by these rocket scientists will radically change:

Jarrett Lilien, president and chief operating officer of E*Trade, says new technology could allow people to create their own interface for accessing information and making trades. A way this could be done is with a display window made up of customizeable pieces drawn from several different Web sites that are constantly updating on their own.

This sounds very much like the nascent alternative desktops on offer from vendors like Zoho and which are being added to through the concept of enterprise mashups. Today, we’re at the very start of what might be possible. Looking some years out:

Along these lines, E*Trade is exploring ways to let users combine parts of its site with other sites. “We have to be prepared to go in both directions — [to let users] drag tools onto our site, and likewise, something that allows users to pull pieces of our content and functionality to other sites,” explains Mr. Lilien.

These are interesting ideas. What they’re really talking to is the notion of delivering individual components that come together to create a user specific experience. In this sense, it’s like picturing applications as being decluttered. But it’s a lot more and despite the current enthusiasm for all things Web 2.0, it won’t be as easy as some might suggest.

What the article doesn’t discuss but implies as a subtext is the need to integrate these new applications. Contrary to what many would have people believe, this is not as simple as it sounds. Investment banks spend vast amounts of money on ensuring seamless operations in the back and front offices but there is not as much effort put into joining the front and back offices. To my mind, this latest set of ideas should be seen as a cue to give the integration aspect serious consideration. If for no other reason than the fact that MiFiD is supposed to provide tangible benefits to the end customer and these latest ideas could serve to meet that objective.

Cross-posted from Integration Monitor

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