June 21, 2006

As technology gets more advanced, the world gets smaller. People can shop from the treadmill and earn degrees from their living rooms. So why not let traders trade from anywhere? That's BT Trading Systems' goal with the launch of its Virtual Trading Organization concept.

"The idea behind the Virtual Trading Organization is to allow trading firms to separate themselves from a site-centric nature," explains Peter Skoglund, BT Trading System's director of product management and systems engineering. In our current trading environment, most firms are tied to a physical site, says Skoglund. "Our switch is in the same building as the turrets, so the trader has to sit within that building to trade."

Not only is the format inflexible for traders' schedules, he argues, but inefficient and dangerous in the context of disaster recovery efforts, since most secondary sites don't have offer the same system depth as primary offices.

"Moving forward, we want traders to be able to have all the features and functionalities from anywhere in their environment, whether its at their desk, hotel room or home office," he says. "If they can't be in the office, that doesn't mean they can't trade."

Jeromee Johnson, a senior analyst at TABB Group, a Westborough, Mass.-based consultancy, believes that BT Trading Systems is tapping into a common sentiment amongst, but not exclusive to, Wall Street firms. "An offering like this plays on two key trends," he says, which are "the trend for information workers to be increasingly mobile and the trend for firms to look more at remote access as part of their crisis and continuity plans, rather than huge disaster recovery facilities."

London-based BT Trading Systems, which specializes in trading communications and collaboration solutions, has been working on virtual technology for some time, says Skoglund. Its flagship ITS voice-trading platform is used by more than 60,000 traders and, in recent years, the firm has pushed virtualization with IP enabled multimedia devices. The Virtual Trading Organization is the next step, enabling access to trader turret functionality through the Web or any PBX phone. "It's been part of our roadmap for years," Skoglund says, "but now the technology is there to allow us to support this."

If a firm chooses to install the environment, any trader in that organization would have access to it in any satellite location via a log-in. Skoglund points out that the connection is backward compatible with the BT product line, but it can also integrate with PBX vendors including Nortel and, down the line, Avaya. Integration into a market data environment is also necessary, for which BT Trading Systems offers middleware.

The cost of the Virtual Trading Organization depends on the method of deployment — turrets are charged per device, while PBX and Web access are priced by license.

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