03.29.2012
By Terry Flanagan

Big Data in 3D

High-powered visual data analysis tools are empowering analysts, traders and risk managers to make sense out of the massive amounts of data at their disposal and make fact-based decisions.

“The challenge is how to filter the increased noise that comes along with the more important data signals,” said Adam Golla, executive vice-president of business development at Aqumin, a provider of data visualization technology for capital markets.

“The addition of a visual interpretation landscape solution can help solve that challenge by giving the end user the ability to see more, in context and be able to act.”

New regulations requiring increased transparency, compliance and reporting will require the industry to adopt proven methods to process enormous datasets.

“As markets become ever more complex, the amount of data flow involved in a single transaction, and the decision making process that precedes that transaction, is staggering,” said Golla.

Data visualization technology supports rapid visual analysis of large data sets and real-time data in financial services and other data-intensive industries. Typical use cases are real-time analysis of profit and loss, risk exposures, transaction cost analysis and pre-trade basket analytics.

“Firms have to manage and bring together data from many disparate data sources that incorporate different data types, structures and update schedules; in many cases, they also must deal with inconsistent or incomplete data sets,” said Chris Elsmore, senior vice-president at Panopticon Software. “Visualization is a primary method for meeting these challenges since the right visualization tools allow traders and managers to make effective use of all the data available in a highly efficient workflow.”

Factors driving adoption of visualization technology in capital markets include increasing deployments of complex event processing (CEP) technology in capital markets firms, requirements for visibility into real-time streaming data feeds and an increasing need for time series data analysis that requires federation of real-time sources (CEP and message buses) and tick databases.

“Most analysts discuss this in the form of three Vs—velocity, volume and variety,” Elsmore said. “A fourth V—visualization—is becoming a major topic for investigation at the top firms as they struggle to make sense of and make decisions based on the enormous flood of data available from their databases, real-time streaming feeds, CEP engines and data sources.”

Omaha Foreign Exchange (OFX) is implementing Panopticon’s CEP-enabled Treemaps, Heatmaps and other data visualizations in its proprietary trading systems in order to boost its ability to analyze data and risks in real time.

Data visualization tools capable of handling and presenting real-time streaming data are of particular utility in firms like OFX that must made buy and sell decisions in a real-time trading environment.

“These real-time data visualization tools allow traders and managers to monitor and analyze algorithmic trading strategies, identify trading opportunities and reduce risk very efficiently,” said Elsmore. “A properly designed visualization allows a trader to spot exposure problems, profit opportunities or systematic issues with algorithms very quickly— usually in seconds—much faster than with traditional reporting methods.”

Aqumin’s AlphaVision software incorporates interactive 3D visual interpretation, enabling traders, portfolio managers and risk analysts to extract more value out of their quoted and proprietary data.

AlphaVision’s 3D analytics environment leverages people’s natural ability to think visually. By creating interactive three dimensional information landscapes, customers are able to identify previously hidden patterns and relationships faster than ever before, enabling them to trade and invest more profitably, while better controlling risk.

“The most common refrain from AlphaVision users is that they are able to see more, faster and with less effort,” said Golla at Aqumin. “It allows them to make better decisions.”

Aqumin’s interactive 3D landscapes are optimized to help capital markets professionals interact with massive datasets typical in the industry.

“AlphaVision is uniquely designed to integrate many types of financial data into 3D visual landscapes that enable users to see everything important in real-time or historical financial data at one time, on one screen instantly,” said Golla.

Firms are also addressing the challenges of managing high-speed order flow and reacting in real-time.

“Look for firms to adopt a variety of approaches to getting analytics off the desktop and into real time data flows,” said Richard Tibbetts, chief technology officer at software provider StreamBase Systems. “The best solutions will empower quantitative analysts and domain experts to reduce time to market and assure the best analytics are driving real time decisions.”

StreamBase LiveView consumes data from streaming real-time data sources, creates an in-memory data warehouse and provides push-based query results and alerts to end-users.

“The data is stored in an in-memory system and made available to users via a desktop client,” Tibbetts said. “It’s as near real-time as you can get.”

Panopticon has global partnerships with SAP, Oracle, QlikView, Thomson Reuters, StreamBase and Kx, among others.

QlikTech, the provider of QlikView, has embedded Panopticon into its Business Discovery business intelligence software to offer enhanced, real-time visualization capabilities for use in real-time trading, risk monitoring and analysis.

“By integrating Panopticon into their systems, QlikView users can visualize real-time data from sources including CEP engines and real-time streaming message buses,” said Hugh Heinsohn, vice-president of marketing at Panopticon. “They can perform more in-depth analysis of financial data using specialized data visualizations designed specifically for use in capital markets applications.”

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