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The Trading Desktop: Why we need a Different Approach

The trouble with Trading Technology Today

Imagine for a moment that the cell phone in your pocket was twenty years old or the console you've just got your kids for Christmas was a Sega Genesis. While retro items like these may appeal to some, it is a sobering thought that much of the USD 100 billion per day trading world is based on similarly aged technology. We all know the reasons — stovepipe, vertical implementations, a lack of standards and the fact that the trader’s desktop is an amalgam of multiple vendors’ products are just some of them. The last ten years have also seen a widening of this technology debt as necessary but incessant regulation has led to many systems simply being patched up or just bent out of shape in order to work in new ways.

While this problem may seem intractable, the new generation of Digital Natives entering the workforce will have completely different expectations of how they expect technology to support them in their jobs. One answer is to embrace a full-scale digitalisation program and many banks and brokerages are doing exactly this. These initiatives are well intentioned and will ultimately yield the kind of results the Digital Natives will expect as firms exploit technologies such as Mesh Application Server Architecture (MASA) and as the API Economy eventually finds its way onto the (virtual) trading floor.

But what if you can’t wait?

What if the risk posed by incumbent technologies is simply too great in today’s highly electronified, global markets and what if, instead of being data centric, your organisation is actually data impaired?

These were the sorts of requests that we were getting as we rolled out our desktop interoperability initiatives through capital markets. This was especially the case with organisations that did not have the in-house expertise available for full scale digitalisation efforts. The call was even louder, though from business users tired with copy /pasting and having to navigate multiple, incompatible applications to do what seemed simple, client centric tasks. This last point was even more evident when these traders became part of distributed workforces where just adding another physical screen quickly becomes impracticable.

Solving the problem Today

This is why Glue42 came up with the concept of G42 Appliances that connect different applications together and, crucially, simplifies the workflow between them.

Let’s take a simple example. I’m an execution trader with a trading ecosystem that comprises various applications including an OMS, Market Data Terminal, TCA, Analytics, Chat, Excel and more. I’m constantly having to do ‘swivel-chair, up-down workflows’ to type the same data into different applications in order to build a helicopter view of a trading opportunity. By doing this I have already missed prices and volume as well as creating operational risk by potentially inputting the wrong data. This is a serious business problem on multiple fronts that a simple G42 OMS-Market Data appliance fixes instantly.

Putting control in the hands of Business

As well as getting them to solve real business problems, our aim with Appliances was also to make them both low cost and easy to install. That way, we put control back into the hands of the business and allow users to create their own “swim-lanes” through the different applications on their desktop — regardless of which vendor supplied them or which in-house developer wrote them. We’re combining enterprise-class software with the ease of purchase and delivery of a retail e-commerce site.

For 2021, it will all be about the convenience of having access to appliances. It’s about making it as easy as buying a fridge or microwave from an electronics store. You buy it, plug it in and it just works. We think it is part of one of the final frontiers in capital markets: the quest to commoditise and improve the traders’ desktop. But, even more importantly, to create an environment that supports a robust, secure environment for continuous business innovation.


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Steve Grob

Steve Grob



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10 Mar 2021



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