“In good information visualization, there are no rules, no guidelines, no templates, no standard technologies, no stylebooks… You must simply do whatever it takes.” – Edward Tufte
Whether you are a consumer or purveyor of data for the application of financial markets risk transfer, there’s something in here for you.
Let’s start with a quick trip in the Wayback Machine:
In a report that I authored for TABB Group that was published in June 2011, “Quantitative Research: The World After High-Speed Saturation,” one critical concept presented there that has proven itself to stand the test of time, and I expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future, is this:
“As strategies and quant directives change, the need for effective communication with stakeholders will march in parallel. Though quants are not usually known for their silver tongues, we strongly encourage them to meditate on one word: pictures.
Rather than turning your backs on spreadsheets, embrace them as the best solutions for reporting, visualization, collaboration and concept development. At the higher end, enhanced information design techniques are the best panacea for navigating the scale and complexity of oncoming data challenges.”
Now, occasionally, I have expanded on this “a picture is worth a thousand words” theme to hammer the point that information design is critical to bridge the gap between us humans and our ever-advancing data flows. In a world like ours, in which data is everywhere but usable data is not, we must pay much closer attention to how we interact with the data gusher we all now find ourselves on the receiving end of.
In other words, design can mean the difference between capturing opportunity or suffering the consequences of missing it. The challenge is no longer in relation to computational power, but in the ability to climb steep learning curves quickly and to dramatically increase the density of information flow via limited computer screen real estate.
In any case, today, I’m here to amp the message a step further: The “interface” – the picture, the dashboard, the portfolio of visual metaphors, or whatever terminology resonates most profoundly with you – IS the thing that not only augments cognition between you and the data, BUT ALSO augments the transfer of cognition between you and your colleagues who have responsibilities at different points in the workflow than you do. Moreover, given the increase in the quantity and diversity of data flows, new human-computer interface (HCI) designs will be required to allow end users to absorb the dramatically new levels of data necessary to be competitive in the current environment.
If you question this logic, I invite you to meditate on one more word: Bloomberg.
When the demand for quantitative researchers and data scientists shifts to a fervent demand for video game designers, you will know that this theme has taken root. Though they will always have a place in the toolbox, we must graduate beyond 2D grid-based layouts and limited factor display to multi-dimensional and interactive layouts with N-factor display. (Full disclosure: Having earned a patent on a high-density N-factor display, I am talking my own book…)
Meanwhile, as the quantitative revolution continues to become more pervasive – and the balance of personnel shifts more towards those with analytical, left-brain tendencies as workflows become more automated – the supply of personnel wielding visual creativity skills is decreasing in our industry. The mass consolidation of trading platforms and other fintech solution providers doesn’t help.
So, here’s some friendly advice for those who are attempting to sell (alternative) data into the trading and asset management world: Put a skin on it. The data will sell better if it is driving a picture. It’s just an example; a use case. It need not be the end-all or be-all.
Now, as for those of you tasked with investing in new datasets to drive trading and investment activities, here’s some friendly advice for you, too: Don’t leave it all to the quants. By default, quants don’t care about dashboards or visual metaphors or visual creativity. They only care about consuming data with pattern recognition tools. Instead, invest in some right-brain talent, either on a full- or part-time basis, and have them work to get your data to sing some different tunes.
The success of your hedge fund or prop trading performance is not only dependent on being creative with the assembly of data, but the variance and flexibility of perspective on that data, too.
Alphacution is here to help.
Watch this space…
If you find value here or elsewhere on the Feed, please perform at least one action item to support it. Nothing new or innovative can survive without support. In this case, it’s not time consuming nor is it expensive to show your appreciation. Ideas below…
Support the Feed!
Note: Business credit cards and bank accounts can be used via our PayPal payment portal.
Alphacution is in the intelligence business.
We are uniquely focused on harvesting, packaging and distributing intelligence about the impacts of technology in financial markets and on the businesses of trading, asset management and banking. Our growing model library is our intelligence asset. Today, this intelligence asset primarily supports written research content, which can be accessed via standardized subscriptions and customized engagements. Occasionally, this core asset also supports video, audio and live presentation content. In time, Alphacution’s intelligence asset will support a broader platform of products and services, like data feeds and software.
For the past year or so, Alphacution has been publishing most of its research content on its Feed for free, and promoting that content via periodic newsletter. The purpose of this strategy has been to assess the interest in and demand for a unique perspective and a new level of intelligence on the financial markets ecosystem.
And, based on the growth in network and activity around that research, it seems that we have struck a cord with many of you – a network of senior executives representing some of the most advanced players in the global financial markets arena and their stakeholders.
The recent trajectory of pageview metrics on our site is symbolic of this claim, as shown below:
Now it’s time to take that level of engagement and direct it towards a more viable long term economic support model that ultimately allows us to scale our team and enhance the quantity and quality of our intelligence.
So, here’s what we are going to do about that:
For those of you who are eager to derive greater value from this work and apply that intelligence to your own business interests, Alphacution is offering individual introductory subscription options priced at $275 per year or $25 per month, cancellable at any time. Both of these options include a rebate on purchases of deeper, more substantive reports and case studies.
In other words, the entire value of an individual subscription paid up to the point of purchasing a single report will be deducted from the purchase of that report. (Rebates not to exceed the maximum value of an annual subscription.)
Examples of upcoming reports – that fall within our 2019 research strategy, outlined in the post Alphacution’s Book: Not Hiding, In Plain Sight – that will be available via the aforementioned subscription rebate mechanism include:
- Case Study: Citadel, LLC (~ Q1-2019)
- Case Study: All-Time Top 10 Hedge Fund Managers, Ranked by Profits (~ Q2-2019)
- Case Study: Top Proprietary Trading Firms (~ Q3-2019)
- Case Study: Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (~ Q4-2019)
Enterprise subscription packages and custom content/service engagement options are available upon request at email@example.com.
Note: Business credit cards and bank accounts can be used via our PayPal payment portal.
Now, for those of you who don’t expect to take advantage of the offers outlined above but want to continue to enjoy the insights, intelligence and occassional entertainment that remain openly available on the Feed, I want to make this specific plea:
Free doesn’t mean there are no costs. In fact, in this case, there have been extraordinary costs in the accumulation of experience and sight, meticulous curation and assembly of data, and creative visualization of and storytelling around our findings.
So, if you value quality content – here or anywhere else – then you need to find a way to support that content at some level simply because you want it to continue to exist. Our post, In Support of Digital Content – which was adapted from other notable digital era content developers – makes a more expansive case for this perspective.
Bottom line: Your efforts to support via one-time or recurring contributions will help guard against this content needing to move from the currently preferred audience-driven model (for its level of independence) to a sponsorship-driven model (which can be found on most other industry media outlets).
So, if none of the subscription options suit you, one-time and recurring support contributions can be made at any level here:
Of course, as always: If you value this work, please continue to “like it,” share it, comment on it – or discuss amongst your colleagues – and then send us firstname.lastname@example.org.
As our “feedback loop” becomes more vibrant – given input from clients and other members of our network, especially around new questions to be answered – the value of this work will accelerate.
Don’t be shy…
Unsubscribe from prior subscriptions without further obligation, at any time, here: