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The era of enterprise data appears to be dawning – finally.

Listening to John Fleming talk at an industry event in New York, it began to occur to us that the world is finally understanding the importance of data, not for its own sake, per se, but as an enabler. Fleming’s project at Morgan Stanley is ultimately about providing product to customers. But, fascinatingly, as one peels back the layers from providing online tools for financial services, one arrives at reference data. And true reengineering of the financial services enterprise.

Thus, enterprisewide data management is, for us, the key to establishing a modern, process-driven financial service organization. It’s been a long time coming.

As you know, we spent some time at the back end of last year asking the marketplace what it thought about approaches to managing data throughout the organization. You’ll remember, too, how regulatory change has been a key driver in forcing senior executives to face up to what information professionals have known for a long time: namely, get your data houses in order or expect prosecution. This makes data a serious business.

Reuters, which commissioned our study, has taken its findings to heart. Kevin Bradshaw now runs real-time and enterprise data within a single organization, reestablishing a structure that was dismantled 15 years ago, when Reuters split its real-time data division from historical data and trading room systems. Back then, software for local data delivery was about to become the Next Big Thing. Now, it’s the historical and descriptive stuff that’s running the show.

Reuters’ combination of its real-time capabilities with enterprise data hopes to capitalize on a gap in the marketplace that’s becoming more glaring daily. IBM got it right with its ‘On-Demand’ ad campaign: but it’s not real-time that Reuters is stressing. It’s flexibility about when in the transaction process that terms and conditions, prices and descriptive data are added to the mix that makes a trade.

That Reuters is taking this seriously is encouraging. Quietly, other players like Telekurs Financial and FT Interactive Data are applying the same methodologies to their product lineup. Bloomberg is even joining in with its feed development project.

People like Fleming are driving a transformation of the business that we think is more wide-ranging than digitalization, the adoption of the euro or Y2K. Old-school Wall Street technology types avoided averting their eyes from his gaze at the presentation, fearful that he would ask them a question. Fleming didn’t use slides. He just spoke about his vision. It was powerful stuff. And that’s what it’s going to take to fix a situation that’s been building for upwards of 20 years. Indeed, Fleming talked about making changes to the Reynolds brokerage platform, which gives some indication of how long, more generally speaking, the issues surrounding accurate administration data have been swept under the proverbial carpet.

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