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Standard Terminology Still Eludes the Reference Data Business

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Reference data – it’s all about the enterprise… or is it? According to some it’s now all about centralisation. CDM – or centralised data management – is now emerging as the new term to compete with EDM – enterprise data management. And why? Commercial interests of course, getting in the way of what was an accepted standard industry term.

EDM has been taken over as a phrase by the EDM Council, which is backed by a few prominent data management software vendors. The competing data management players can’t very well endorse the phrase any more… Makes for a more complicated landscape.

But whatever the correct terminology, reference data truly is reaching all parts of the enterprise. As our story on Lava Trading using Telekurs Financial’s pricing and corporate actions data shows, reference data is being increasingly recognized as a core factor in the front office transactions business.

Standard & Poor’s Peter Jones has been surprised that their new ABS/MBS evaluations pricing services, usually the reserve of back office administrators, has triggered interest from a new audience across the front- and middle-office.

Fidelity ActionsXchange’s CEO David Birdsall reports a more centralised approach across its target client base when considering the use of corporate actions data. He’s come across chief data officers at two out of the last seven sales presentations. Not bad for a position that didn’t exist a year ago. Although to date, it remains a primarily U.S. phenomenon.

Of course Reference Data Review, now in its fourth year, has plotted the graph of enterprise-wide data management (otherwise known as centralised data management!) since its inception. Back then, industry veterans will remember, the challenge for project managers, was to get the attention and sponsorship of c-level executives for their initiatives. Now, c-level roles are being created to fully exploit the value of data to the financial services enterprise. So what’s next? According to the EDM Council, it’s proving things like ROI and establishing best practices and standards. On standards, the marketplace hasn’t even been able to agree a standard terminology to describe the standards…

Meanwhile, A-Team’s surveys in this area have consistently found over the years that industry players have struggled to find a practical way to measure ROI. As such, project leaders have come up with other business imperatives – such as the all-important compliance with regulations that will keep their execs out of jail (unlike the unfortunate Enron duo) – in order to gain the c-level support that we’ve talked about.

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