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Talking Intelligent Trading With Andrew Delaney: Eikon – An Icon of Modern Trading Analytics?

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At the risk of sounding contrarian, could it be that an earlier generation of Thomson Reuters management was onto something when it put a whole lot of the Thomson family’s eggs in the Eikon basket?

This week’s unveiling of Eikon 4 – together with a bunch of sentiment analysis capabilities – illustrates the strides Thomson Reuters has made in terms of improving the user experience and utility of a desktop/mobile data and analytics service.

Eikon 3 may have given an inkling of what was to come. But this latest version truly has the feel of what a modern trader information service should look like. You’ll laugh, but it reminded me of the time I first set eyes on BridgeChannel: streaming data and analytics through the public Internet – a modern market data service.

We were lucky enough to get a briefing on the new Eikon capabilities from Peter Moss and his team in London. From a functionality standpoint, highlights for us included:

  • Sentiment analysis – drawing on algorithms developed by Thomson Reuters’ Machine Readable News group, and including analysis of Twitter to identify positive/negative and noise (volume) signals.
  • Eikon Answers – uses proprietary algorithms to parse text, identify entities, and then map entities to assets for rapid access to relevant data and analytics.
  • Maps – Currently provides 20 indicators per country accessible from a map of the world. From here, it can perform a range of macroeconomic analysis. We’d love to use this to map the financial enterprise, identify the business activity, and provide access to supporting data sets and applications.
  • Excel Function Builder – Introduces the Eikon Answers function into an Excel plug-in, and raises the prospect of the same for Thomson Reuters data feeds. Integrates with MS Office suite to pull updated data into Word, PowerPoint and other reporting tools.
  • Application Library – Smart menu, with Apple AppStore/iTunes look and feel, where Thomson Reuters/third-party/proprietary applications reside. Ability to call up apps by asset class, categories, etc.
  • Mobile/Table support – Eikon Now is a kind of Bloomberg Anywhere that runs in Mac OS and Android environments. We particularly liked the Snap Search ability to photograph a document on the road and then run it through Eikon Answers.

But it was the whole, rather than the sum of the parts, that left an impression; a coherent, intuitive and well thought-out offering that draws upon a pretty full complement of Thomson Reuters data and analytics capabilities. Key to this is the AutoSuggest search capability, which caters to those among us young enough to expect computers to ‘speak’ to us, rather than demand strings of unintelligible coding. RIC access is still available for the dinosaurs….

Eikon 3 offered Autosuggest and its single command line search for some 10 million instruments. Eikon 4 boosts availability of this to some 55 million instruments. You can now type in a company name and the terms research, charts, whatever, and it’ll find it for you. You can save searches in cascading tabs, to access different data types, different asset classes, and so on.

What made it even more interesting was the obviously high-powered, possibly Big Data-based technology that underpins many of the new stuff and makes navigation between activities so seamless.

Moreover, Thomson Reuters’ positioning of Eikon as a window into a single platform with the Elektron hosting and distribution environment at its heart, could raise some tantalising possibilities. Why not use Eikon as an access point to a managed Thomson Reuters Quantitative Analytics capability running on Eikon? Why not use Eikon as the base platform to deliver your particular suite of client algorithms, drawing upon both proprietary and Thomson Reuters data sets?

Why not, indeed?

Moss reckons Eikon’s new ‘data discoverability’ will allow Thomson Reuters to take market share. From whom, he didn’t mention. But clearly he didn’t need to. Certainly, this latest Eikon release represents a new round in the Desktop Wars that have been ongoing for as long as most of us can remember.

The next big battleground may be chat. There are industry moves afoot – some public and some very private at this point – to federate the unfederated and break Bloomberg’s lock on this key functionality. How this will pan out is anybody’s guess, which is why this is a topic we’ll be exploring at our Intelligent Trading Summit in London on March 4. As usual, get in touch if you’d like to get involved.

But could it all come to nought? Will the prize of victory in the Desktop Wars be anything more than Pyrrhic?

One potential stumbling block for all the premium players could yet emerge in the form of regulatory moves to increase the transparency around broker commissions. The more transparent these fees become – a driver in Europe is Solvency II – the more the buy side will become aware of how much it’s paying for the various components, among them market data.

At some point, some in the marketplace are saying, soft commissions for any form of trading infrastructure or advisory services will be abolished, and the buy side will have to pay for their own technology and data services, including all those premium desktops.

What then?

Come find out at the Intelligent Trading Summit on March 4.

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