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Bloomberg Takes Steps to Build Enterprise Business with App Portal

Bloomberg is working with third-party software developers to populate the Bloomberg App Portal, a platform that extends Bloomberg’s offer to subscribers with added-value applications written by external providers and powered by data and news from the Bloomberg Professional service.

The portal marks Bloomberg’s first major enterprise product introduction under the supervision of Stanley Young, CEO of Bloomberg’s Enterprise Products and Solutions business. Young left the CEO role at NYSE Technologies in May to head up the Bloomberg enterprise business, which had recently been augmented through the acquisition of enterprise data management specialist PolarLake. The new portal also highlights Bloomberg’s commitment to open technology, providing open application programming interfaces to integrate third-party applications on the platform.

To date, towards 45 applications have been added to the portal and it has about 2,000 subscribers worldwide – Bloomberg’s strategy on product release is to get to critical mass before heading out with marketing campaigns.

Applications are selected through a review process led by Claudio Storelli, global business manager of the Bloomberg App Portal, and must add value to the platform. Apps around trade execution are not included in the portal, but others designed for eyeball consumption are grouped into categories such as data analysis, news and research, portfolio management and risk analysis, valuation and pricing, data visualisation and technical analyses.

The aim is to productise the intellectual property of any individual or company and distribute resulting apps across the Bloomberg community. Apps are launched from the Bloomberg terminal’s APPS<GO> homepage and run in a Bloomberg Launchpad workspace. Mobile devices running Apple iOS or Android operating systems, as well as Bloomberg Professional, can also be used to access the apps. While traders are expected to be key users of the apps, the portal can also be used by institutional clients to piggy-back Bloomberg infrastructure and deploy proprietary software tools to employees and clients.

Storelli, who joined Bloomberg two years ago with a mandate to develop the portal, says the tight integration of third-party apps in the portal is aimed to make traders’ jobs easier, avoiding the need to copy and paste information between apps and delivering both increased efficiencies and cost savings.

In terms of the commercial arrangement between Bloomberg and third-party application providers revenue from licence fees is split 30/70, with 30% being kept by Bloomberg and 70% going to developers. Small developers can benefit from avoiding the costs of customer conversion and deployment associated with software sales into large institutions.

Users can download and review pretty much all the applications for a trial period before purchase is required with monthly user fees on many initial apps at around $100 to $200. While the possibility of portal users downloading numerous apps and running up large bills may alarm institutions, Storelli says the software includes a request mechanism that gives market data departments control over purchasing. Details of application costs, perhaps covering the number of users of an app, are decided by the application vendor, not Bloomberg.

“This is not about driving revenue, but content. The revenue split makes sure there are no barriers to entry for developers and that we create a partnership feeling of being in this together,” says Storelli. He chooses not to forecast how may apps may ultimately run on the platform and it is likely that there may be several apps with similar functionality, but he says: “We are selecting apps on quality not quantity. That is how they will be differentiated and some may not work out, but the content will spur an unprecedented wave of innovation in financial markets.”

Young describes the portal as a manifestation of where Bloomberg is going in the enterprise space in terms of creating an ecosystem of managed software that enables client workflows. Noting industry issues such as technology convergence, pressure on costs and an ever shrinking commission pool, and sharing his opinion that closed communities in the enterprise space will ultimately die, he comments: “These are all opportunities for Bloomberg. The app portal is a first step towards building our enterprise business and it will transform the industry. It is also a big move in saying that we operate an open environment and will publish our data model. This goes beyond the terminal and into the enterprise platform space.”

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