August 20, 2012

The Gold Book, now in its eighth year, is Wall Street & Technology's annual nod to a few of the most innovative technology leaders in the capital markets. Each year, without fail, a theme emerges as our editors develop the profiles.

Sometimes, the themes are obvious. The 2009 Gold Book came at the start of the financial crisis, and many of the honorees were focused on cost cutting and transparency. In 2010, the industry seemed to be moving in the right direction, with CIOs shifitng their focus to growth, innovation and cutting-edge technology for customer service (you know, the cooler trends that get technologists and business leaders excited).

For this year's Gold Book, the theme took us by surprise. Managing costs is always important, but it didn't seem to be a top priority for the technology leaders we spoke with. And risk management and transparency are mandates at all financial firms, but neither was the top goal for our Gold Book executives.

In 2012, quality takes the top spot. Each of this year's honorees stressed in some way testing, quality assurance and improving product stability. Forensic software testing, static code analysis and ethical hacking are among the tools being used by the honorees to make sure systems are available 100 percent of the time and don't cause massive, IT-fueled failures such as Knight Capital's market meltdown, Nasdaq's botched Facebook offering and BATS' self-inflicted IPO technology glitch.

The collective focus on quality and testing, according to the honorees, helps their firms get reliable products to market much more quickly and, perhaps more important, with fewer failures. In addition, the Gold Book honorees note, having reliable testing allows the firms to focus on other competitive distinctions, such as meeting customers' needs. In other words, the quality control methods these top tech leaders employ allow their organizations to focus on innovation, rather than worrying if a line of new code might cause a technology crash.

At least for the 2012 Gold Book, it's refreshing to see that technology organizations aren't all-consumed by budget constraints and cost cutting. Rather, as this year's honorees show, they are building on strong fundamentals (quality control) to enable the organization to innovate and respond to customer demands.

Meet the 2012 Honorees:

Fidelity CIO Ron DePoalo Walks In His Father's Footsteps

Newedge's Stephen Davy Is Making a Difference

Direct Edge's Saro Jahani Chooses Stability Over Speed

Northern Trust's Scott Murray Is a Man of Action

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology.