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Re-imagining the User Experience: LSEG’s Workspace Strategy

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Earlier this year, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) announced that it was on track to transition all Refinitiv Eikon clients to Workspace, LSEG’s next generation workflow platform, by the end of 2024, and that it intended to shut down Eikon in 2025. Over 50% of clients have now been migrated to the new platform, which, according to LSEG’s customer surveys, is receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback.

The Workspace product, which has already seen over 200 updates this year, is set to advance even further in 2024 and beyond, in large part due to LSEG’s strategic partnership with Microsoft established last year and a newer alliance with Openfin.

In this wide-ranging and exclusive interview with TradingTech Insight, Nej D’jelal, Group Head, LSEG Workspace Platform at LSEG, discusses why these collaborations are crucial to LSEG’s ambitious plans for the product’s development, and shares his insights on the future of the user experience.

TTI: Nej, how is the Workspace rollout going?

ND: We’re making significant progress in transitioning users from Eikon to Workspace. The current version of Workspace is already superior, as affirmed by our clients. Our focus now is on helping our users unlock the full potential of LSEG’s value proposition through our data and analytics.

LSEG’s Data and Analytics group has substantial strength and breadth, encompassing capital markets, including our FX business, trading businesses, and post-trade services. From a trading perspective, we are integrating various experiences within the Workspace ecosystem to provide a foundational platform for pre-trade, at-trade, and post-trade tools, which represents our ultimate goal. We now need to look at how to evolve from the existing paradigm of user experience into the next generation.

TTI: What might that evolution entail?

ND: We need to reconsider the user experience fundamentally. The first generation, which we’ll call Gen 1.0, offers somewhat fragmented user experiences with familiar workflows. However, the newer, cutting-edge generation, which we’ll refer to as Gen 2, improves upon this by being simpler and more intuitive. It incorporates more AI to personalise the experience and provides more proactive suggestions. The current version of Workspace fits into this category, tailored as it is to different user types.

Looking beyond, we’re aiming not just for a Gen 2.1 experience but for a transformation that represents a 10x opportunity in terms of tangible productivity gains, measured in time savings and error reduction.

This 10x experience is underpinned by some new ingredients. It’s about natural language use that goes beyond a chatbot experience, focusing on prompts that are driven by the user’s persona and context, tailored to the individual.

The challenge is to move from navigating multiple applications, even if they are intuitive and interoperable as in Gen 2, to a truly unified experience. Ideally, this experience would be backend-agnostic to data sources and systems, while rapidly aiding discovery of relevant information and presenting output on the frontend in a format that is extremely easy for the user to understand. Whether it’s a summary, aggregation, or visualisation, or even presented in PowerPoint or Excel, the packaging should be digestible and conducive to significant time savings.

This transformative 10x opportunity has the potential to universally increase user engagement and expand use cases. Our business is centred on delivering experiences with a deep understanding of different user personas, whether in trading, risk management, wealth management, or other areas. This understanding is our starting point. From a platform perspective, scaling our capability to deliver effectively is crucial. This involves fundamental capabilities such as software deployment, experience curation, discoverability, and the delivery of engaging solutions. These capabilities form the cornerstone of our operations. When we assess these capabilities systematically, we then determine our value proposition and strengths. This leads to the “build versus buy versus partner” analysis from a platform viewpoint. Our conclusion has been to partner with Microsoft and Openfin.

TTI: How will your partnerships with Microsoft and Openfin help you achieve this 10x transformation?

ND: Microsoft offers incredible scale and reach across devices, which is particularly valuable for financial services users. Their strength lies not only in desktop solutions but also in mobile applications, for example Teams has excellent mobile functionality. Additionally, Microsoft has made substantial investments and gained credibility in generative AI, positioning them as a leader at the top of the value chain.

Consider the distribution of Teams. We see an opportunity for market structure evolution towards a more open approach to access and chat. We believe the widespread use of Teams in financial services communities will support this change because it provides the necessary combination of appropriate content, utilities for action and execution, and access to the community—these are the three critical components. The partnership with Microsoft enhances our capabilities, particularly in community access, since Teams is prevalent today. Teams also facilitates bilateral chat, and I believe there’s potential to evolve market structure to not only lower the barriers to entry for chat but also to integrate it seamlessly within workflows.

Regarding Openfin, by enabling server-side deployment, Openfin provides us with tremendous deployment scale, which alleviates the installation burden for our customers, who need to be able to readily access the latest versions. Openfin also addresses industry needs for interoperability, consolidating native applications into a cohesive user experience. Thus, for our customers, if they wish to run a container with a Workspace experience, augmented as they see fit, we can facilitate this, effectively lowering workflow barriers to entry. And with the reduction of barriers to entry and the rise of programmatic trading, the sector is ripe with opportunities for workflow optimisation.

TTI: You mentioned generative AI. What role do you think generative AI might play in the user experience of the future?

ND: Digital ecosystems consist of a demand side and a supply side. The demand side involves the consumption of information to enable action. On the supply side, there’s the production, manufacturing, and distribution of that information. This model applies universally, not just in financial services. Generative AI bridges the gap between the consumption and production of information. This is crucial because content creators, whether sales traders providing market commentary, researchers publishing analyses, or others involved in content production, must determine relevance, package information meaningfully, and distribute it to the target audience. Today’s bridge between demand and supply is multifaceted and complex. However, content producers are now empowered to expedite this process.

From a demand perspective, finding what you’re looking for is different from discovering what you need, which may be unknown to you. Discovery involves recommendations, suggestions, and prompts that allow for more thorough searches within the digital ecosystem. For instance, a portfolio manager interested in a specific asset class, publisher, or company benefits from knowing peer opinions, trends, and popular information. Discoverability is enhanced by the AI bridge, enabling more effective prompts based on a comprehensive understanding of the information supply.

In platform economics, ecosystems revolve around users who can be both consumers and producers. The goal is to provide self-service tools that facilitate this dual functionality.

TTI: Final thoughts?

ND: I firmly believe that we are at the forefront of the next generation of user experiences for those in the financial services sector. Our mission is to significantly enhance productivity, gauged by metrics such as time savings and the reduction in errors. This objective is our focus. We aim to accomplish this through the implementation of simplified workflows, AI-driven user support, and broader community access. These are the three principal elements I want to emphasise. To achieve these goals, we are capitalising on our core competencies in data and analytics; this is the crux of our efforts. Furthermore, our strategic partnerships with Microsoft and Openfin are instrumental in this endeavour. This high-level strategy effectively bridges our purpose, activities, and methodology.

TTI: Thank you Nej.

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