Web 2.0 in the Offing

Date:   Wednesday , October 01, 2008

In today's fast changing world it's far more than a challenge to go along with the latest technologies and adopt them while scaling up the capacity and building the reliability to serve customers more efficiently. Especially for a firm in the financial services segment that has a robust regulatory environment.Another challenge is to keep verifying that whatever investment made for the sake of technology, delivers value. To be successful in our business, it is imperative to develop and deliver innovative technology solutions that help customers grow their businesses.

As a CIO of a global clearing firm, I feel emerging technologies like SOA, SaaS, Virtualization, and Web 2.0 can transform the way a business runs. We are increasingly pursuing many of these technologies for a long time now to meet the customers' needs. I believe that in recent times, Web 2.0 has undergone a great metamorphosis in terms of providing rich user experience, as we keep scouting for novelty in the world of Web technology, whether it is in the space of browsers, the mash ups, or social networking domain to deliver more for customers.

However, in our industry we cannot use each and every technology. For instance, social networking is hot among young users nowadays. But being in the financial industry, there is a limited scope to using this technology because of regulatory norms. Still, Web technologies have become instrumental in the process of technological transformation in this segment of the technology industry.

With more than 100,000 investment professionals and 1,150 retail and institutional financial organizations using our platform, Pershing is one of the largest providers of financial business solutions in the world. High volume transactions may be possible with a typical Windows desktop, but yet not possible with browser-based technology. It has not yet matured to handle the volumes and loads. So as a CIO, I work closely with many business areas throughout the firm to determine the best-suited technology to achieve customer satisfaction irrespective of whether it's old or new. In fact, about 85 percent of our customers still prefer desktop-based applications to browser-based applications.
The reason is quite clear. Normally, for a consumer who wants to have access to diverse contents, services such as news sites, financial sites, or retail sites for a short period of time, clearly a browser-based approach makes sense. But for an investment professional who performs a much higher level of work, a Windows workstation is preferable. Having said that, due to the advent of wireless and Internet broadband penetration, it's true that nowadays in Wall Street, the momentum is slowly shifting towards browser-based applications. Yet, its limited ability to handle huge amounts of data is still a roadblock for the browser-based approach.

The other hot segment we are observing is the mobile world. Though we have been building mobile applications for financial professionals for many years, the launch of iPhone has enabled us to further leverage these capabilities. We are seriously thinking about developing some novel iPhone apps to leverage its capabilities, which is also an indication that things have increasingly become 'wireless' nowadays. Once this catches up fully, we'll see more innovations throughout this segment of the technology industry.

(Pershing LLC (member FINRA/NYSE/SIPC) is a leading global provide3r of financial business solutions to more than 1,150 institutional and retail financial organizations and independent registered investment advisors who collectively represent over five million active investors. Located in 19 offices worldwide, Pershing is committed to delivering dependable operational support, robust trading services, flexible technology, an expansive array of investment solutions, practice management support and service excellence. Pershing LLC is a subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation)