Taking a Transformative Leap with Big Data

By Saro Jahani, CIO, Direct Edge

Saro Jahani, CIO, Direct Edge

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2014 and expectations

As in other industries, technology is making business much faster and this will continue to be a big story in capital markets in 2014. However, speed requires stability. At Direct Edge, I have developed and executed against a “Stability and Latency Roadmap.” Since stock exchanges are classified by the government as “critical infrastructure” for the U.S. economy and as such is held to the highest standard for reliability, resiliency and resistance to compromise. I work with a lot of outside technology vendors and I evaluate them constantly to be sure they are performing at a peak level of performance. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates the capital markets, is finalizing technology standards in its Regulation SCI that will give the financial industry the ability to establish technological proficiency standards. As regulations become finalized throughout 2014, it could present compliance challenges and actions for some market participants.

Areas in business environment where solutions do not yet exist

I don’t feel that a solution is missing per se. The advance of technology is constantly making solutions more nimble and that creates new realities that I work quickly to apply. For a CIO, the business leaders are the audience and the most important clients. Thus, aligning the technology with the business is extremely important. To me, the most important thing is to create and maintain a lifecycle that changes the image of the IT organization from a "cost center" to an "investment center". In order to do that, I have to speak the ‘language of the business people’. It is however as important, to engage in all three components of IT (people, process and technology) to build an IT organization that is empowered to make decisions that are sound and not based on situational thinking.

Trends impacting Capital Markets

Cloud technology, Big Data and mobile devices will be the most prominent technology trends in this industry. Cloud technology has matured to the point that it is a viable solution with lots of upside. Big Data and the ability for real time analysis of that data will allow the industry to take a transformative leap from reacting to bad outcomes after the fact, to recognizing and correcting errant operations as they happen. Mobile technology is also on the rise, with smart phones increasing their functionality and people spending more time accessing the Internet and applications from mobile devices.

The role of CIOs today

Simply put, a Chief Information Officer has to transition and assume the responsibilities of what I call a Chief Innovation Officer. Today, CIOs need to transcend the traditional role of implementing incremental improvements and instead effect evolutionary and transformational innovation on a regular basis. This requires a whole different set of skills. You have to understand the psychology of moving beyond managing people to leading them toward the culture of innovation. In essence, you need to be the oil in the machinery as opposed to the machine itself.