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Talking Reference Data with Andrew Delaney: Enterprise Data and the Desktop

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There were raised eyebrows at yesterday’s launch function for Bloomberg’s new App Portal, when enterprise chief Stanley Young described the new capability as “disruptive”.

Effectively a marketplace for buying third-party applications that operate within the Bloomberg Professional desktop environment, App Portal could be viewed as nothing more as a latecomer to the third-party optional services game, a game that was finessed by Telerate some three decades ago.

But that would be to miss the point.

Young’s preamble to the main event – a run-through of the App Portal’s raison d’etre and demo of a few of the applications already available through it – belied a much more serious ambition: to transform the Bloomberg Professional into a kind of window into the applications and data banks, brokers and fund managers use throughout the enterprise.

Privately, Tom Secunda – the last of the original Bloomberg senior managers still in place – is talking about a legacy not for establishing Bloomberg as the most successful market data terminal product of the 20th Century, but rather for establishing Bloomberg as the “fabric of global capital markets for the 21st Century.”

Inasfar as the App Portal marks a step in that direction – and it may well do – the new feature is disruptive indeed. Moreover, it provides small fry and startup application developers with a level playing field for reaching prospects – 300,000 of ‘em! – they’d never be able to reach under their own steam.

Young even sees scope for services cleansed by Bloomberg’s recently acquired Polarlake platform – to be operated on a hosted, or software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis – to be made available to the Bloomberg Professional via the App Portal. And how long before we get access to internal data repositories held in legacy risk, portfolio management and fund accounting systems? Tantalising.

Joining Bloomberg in what may emerge as the renaissance of the desktop device – the Enterprise Desktop, anyone? – are our old friends at Thomson Reuters, whose Eikon service is now looking like it’s truly ready for Prime Time. Coincidentally former Bloomberger Philip Brittan recently ran us through an update of the latest version of the system, which is looking more like Yahoo Finance on Steroids than a Quotron Q800.

Brittan likes to stress Eikon’s 21st Century look and feel. It’s added 7,000 net new positions this year, over and above replacements of the legacy Thomson Reuters 3000Xtra premium terminal. Underpinning the platform, however, is a vast array of content that goes beyond the real-time element Thomson Reuters has traditionally been known for, embracing a raft of fundamental, reference and analytical information. Navigation is aided by a workflow model that offers the user choices – of data, capabilities – based on what he or she is likely to need given earlier activity. A major release next quarter will see the introduction of Eikon answers, what Brittan describes as a “next generation search capability” that’s currently in pilot. Tapping into both Thomson Reuters and other – internal, enterprise? – data and applications from this single point of access is another tantalising possibility.

The Market Data Terminal is dead! Long live the Enterprise Desktop!

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