I promised I would stop writing with an introduction about the ‘current climate’ and how COVID-19 has made us all change the way we operate… but sorry, I can’t help myself! It’s no secret that there are a number of firms adopting new work from home policies. If you’ve been to the City in London you will have witnessed first-hand the empty commuter trains, boarded up coffee shops and a handful of masked wanderers roaming the streets. It’s a sorry state of affairs but if we want to take a positive from the situation it’s that technology is enabling us to carry on BAU (business as usual) from our bedrooms, garden sheds or suburban cafes.

As COVID took it’s cruel grip there was a mad dash for collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams as people looked for ways to stay connected in the same way that they had become accustomed too.   

In terms of the financial services industry it has been suggested that three to five years’ worth of digital transformation activity happened in as little as three months. And if we focus on the trading environment there was, and is, heightened and urgent need for access to accurate, real-time market data, reference data and alternative data – anywhere, anytime. We all know that in times of extreme volatility traders need more than ever to be able to respond and react immediately to what is happening in the market.

Some of the traditional market data vendors are actively promoting their ‘anywhere’ services. Offering access to high-quality news, data and analytics from ‘virtually anywhere’, from any type of device. It’s a no brainer – of course that’s what they are shouting about, who isn’t?

But as we start to really feel the impact of the pandemic there is now another driver…survival. How can firms reduce costs in order to stay afloat and prosper in a very turbulent environment? Whilst the anywhere, anytime mantra is very compelling, what does it really mean? The reality is – not very much… We live in a consumer centric world and this approach has made its way into the business of trading. Traders want to be able to quickly select what they want, when they want it and at the same time, only pay for what they use (think Amazon). Despite all the hype, the smart interfaces and cool marketing messages some of the well-known data providers are still behaving in a very proprietary way, using old school, highly inflexible licensing models. Many users are hamstrung by lengthy and costly contracts which just isn’t very 2020 is it? And not just that but these ‘anywhere’ solutions still need to be manually configured, it’s not out of the box. In reality, it is not the ‘anywhere’ or ‘anytime’ service which we are used to in our personal lives.

Technology and consumer expectations have completely changed the rules. And despite a recent uptick in the sale of market data terminals, it is inevitable that vendors and service providers will have to slash costs in an attempt to retain market share. For the first time users are in the driving seat and are fed up with complex contractual obligations and paying inflated prices to a small monopoly of firms, some of whom have failed to acknowledge that consumer trends are filtering through to the business world. People expect so much more, for so much less. It’s time to change.

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