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Credit Suisse First Boston Set to Make Selection of Data Management Suppliers for ODIN Project

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Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) is set to decide imminently on a selection from a number of data management and workflow solutions providers for its internal ODIN global data management project. The chosen solutions (as there may be more than one), following an extensive evaluation of 17 suppliers that responded to an initial request for information (RFI), will be combined with internal development to form the technology foundation of ODIN.

ODIN is a long-term project being managed internally at CSFB with the aim of centralizing the management and technical infrastructure supporting a wide variety of data. The infrastructure will feed around 300 applications and 15,000 end users throughout the global enterprise. The implementation of the technology solution is expected to go into production in 2005.

The project is being managed by a team of 30, headed by John Bottega, who joined recently from Merrill Lynch as global head of product and price reference data, based in New York. Mike Gillott, who initiated and developed the strategy of the ODIN project, is the delivery manager based in London. Gillott confirms that CSFB is currently evaluating external vendors for its internal data strategy project ODIN, but declines to comment on details.

He does say, however, that the issues that CSFB faces in managing reference data mirror those that the industry faces as a whole. As an active participant in the FISD’s initiatives, including the MDDL proposed standard for terminology of market and reference data, both Bottega and Gillott believe that if all financial institutions work on their own internal efforts in line with the industry initiatives, real progress can be made.

CSFB makes use of a range of incumbent systems, each with custom components based on different technology and utilizing different data sources. The technology aspect of the ODIN project is aimed at replacing these systems with a combination of off-the-shelf data management solutions and internal development to create a system that can handle all the functionality and data coverage of the incumbent systems.

The RFI for this project was initially distributed to 16 vendors. This list was then narrowed to six suppliers, including Asset Control, Cicada, Eagle Investment Systems, Fame Information Systems (now owned by SunGard), Odyssey Asset Management, and Soliton.

Eagle subsequently withdrew from the process. Sources suggest that the vendor decided not to continue given the level of resource that would have been required to respond to the test project. Eagle declines to comment. Financial Technologies International (FTI) was a latecomer to the process and is now in the final six.

The selected vendor solutions will be implemented in phases based on various components in order to gain value immediately.

As part of the ODIN project, issues that have been considered by the group include: how is data acquired, who owns it, what are the best sources, what checks are run, how are exceptions dealt with, and how is the data distributed?

The range of data the eventual solution will need to manage includes terms and conditions, end-of-day pricing, intraday pricing, securities identifiers, corporate actions, index constituents, foreign exchange, currency codes and calendars. This data is sourced from a number of vendors including Bloomberg, Reuters, Telekurs, Thomson’s Datastream and Mark-it Partners (including data from Totem and DADD, now owned by Mark-it Partners, see Brief, Page 4). It will also include several direct exchange feeds, including the London Stock Exchange, Eurex, Euronext Liffe, Matif and Monep, as well as internal data across a number of business lines.

The ODIN project has involved several stages of bringing the systems and the data management under centralized control. The technology aspect is aimed at making the infrastructure and data management process more streamlined. This will reduce the number of systems, the duplication of data management efforts, and the manual intervention currently required.

In order to secure business buy-in, the group ran a series of seminars in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York for business and support groups throughout CSFB. Through this process the group collected information on the issues each of these units faced in dealing with data, which was collated into a report. In selling the idea internally, the group decided that the cost of failed trades was not easily quantifiable, so instead sold the concept on issues including the protection of existing revenue, creation of new revenue, and financial and reputational risk.

CSFB opted to use consultants Bearing Point – the former KPMG Consulting – to facilitate the internal discussions and delivery of the feedback report. They also helped create, distribute and manage the RFI process, although the final selection decision is being made by CSFB. The selection process involved using a grading system that took into account each vendor’s technology, experience, client list, client feedback and balance sheet, among other factors.

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