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11:22 AM
Alex Tyrrell, Thomson Reuters
Alex Tyrrell, Thomson Reuters
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Bringing Discovery to your Fingertips: Graph Search for Financial Markets

Companies like Google and Facebook are redefining the way we search for information. Now this transformation is coming to financial markets, a complex world in need of a simple way to pinpoint meaningful data.

Financial markets professionals face a deluge of data today and it is getting increasingly difficult to tune into signals from the noise. What these individuals are looking for is an easy way to get to the exact data and analytics they need, in an instant. The adoption of innovative search technologies empowers financial professionals - short cutting their processes and saving them significant time.

Alex Tyrrell, Thomson Reuters
Alex Tyrrell, Thomson Reuters

Search Today

The goal of search engines today is to anticipate the exact questions people will ask in order to deliver the best and most accurate answer. There are two important pieces involved in this guided search method – a search needs to be able to both anticipate the question and deliver the one right personalized answer for each user.

Graph search technology can meet both of these needs, anticipating and guiding the user through the question process. Anticipating a user’s precise search query is a critical step in reaching this harmony of perfect question matched with an exact answer.

The State of Guided Search

For search providers like Google, the quest for connecting an exact question to an equally exact answer proves quite challenging as these providers cover the entire expanse of every website around the globe. Finding one specific answer in this constantly expanding and evolving space is like finding a needle in an infinitely large haystack. Search technology today has taken major steps along this path, specifically in the area of anticipating a user’s search query and navigating them towards a list of possible answers.

Where we see a prime example of this marriage of a suggested question to its exact answer is with Facebook. Facebook faces a similar challenge to Google when it comes to search, but has the advantage of operating within a more defined network of potential questions and answers. Facebook has begun using graph search technology to navigate users through the search process. This helps users build their questions by suggesting specific search queries with each term the user types, leading them to an exact intended question and delivering an immediate specific answer.

If a Facebook user begins typing “my friends who”, they immediately see a list of possible search queries, thus connecting the friends concept with things like locations or activities. With this underlying search technology, users can conduct anything from broad to very limited searches like “my friends who live in New York City and like skiing”. In this respect, graph search technology is navigating users to immediate results, allowing for a rewarding discovery experience.

Navigating the World of Financial Markets

The financial markets industry benefits from an even more defined set of potential questions and answers across the content and capabilities available in any common desktop or trading tool. This network of questions and answers ranges from data, like public company earnings results or commodity prices, to functions, like calculators or trading execution capabilities.

Historically, finding the right content or capability for a specific task within a financial desktop has involved the use of arcane codes and multi-step navigation through various pages to not only obtain an answer but also build a query. Graph search technology has the potential to make a quantifiable difference in the daily lives of financial markets professionals by guiding them in completing their tasks quickly and efficiently.

Financial professionals typically think in terms of tradeable entities, like a stock trading symbol, and functions, like an options calculator. Graph search technology starts with helping the user pick the right entity and function from a list of relevant suggestions, guiding them through the process with each term they type, thus building their full search query. The power of graph search technology is in the massive time-saving advantage it offers, turning what would have been a complex operation involving various steps and different searches into a simple and intuitive discovery experience.

With this technology, a trader could simply type a stock name or symbol, like IBM, into their search tool and receive an immediate list of suggested available tools for analyzing IBM. If the trader chooses VWAP, he would also see suggestions on completing the timestamps needed to perform this specific VWAP calculation. Without the use of graph search technology, this operation could take significant time, navigating between Microsoft Excel, a calculator tool and a content page for IBM.

Navigating the Time-Saving Opportunities

By their very nature, many of the calculations and information searches that financial professionals complete every day are complex and tedious. Seconds spent navigating through pages of functions and information add up to lost hours and ultimately lost opportunities. Products in the financial markets space have a keen focus on aligning their navigation and design around their users’ workflows, and saving their users as much time as possible.

Graph search can help financial professionals take the guesswork out of where to find information, how to use functions, and how to configure them for their specific needs. It can allow them to ask for the right thing the first time. This will not only save them a huge amount of time using the product, but ultimately it will help them find functionality they may not otherwise be aware of, creating new opportunities for idea generation.

The Constantly Evolving Search Experience

Search started as a ‘hunt and peck’ exercise with the launch of the very first search engines. Today’s search tools aim to answer more complex questions and give users precise answers, guiding them in navigating the vast amount of information that exists in any modern product. Graph search technology helps in this goal and is one more step towards search becoming a true concierge experience, offering a smart, personalized guide for users, navigating them through the breadth and depth of information and tools they need – in seconds.

Financial professionals are beginning to see the real possibilities available with powerful search technologies – not just using search to find information and raw data, but using it as a tool to identify new investment strategies and opportunities. A better search experience can help them leave fewer stones unturned in their investigation, helping them develop and execute trading strategies faster and more intuitively. —Alex Tyrrell is Head of Search for the Financial & Risk Business at Thomson Reuters.


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