For capital markets participants worldwide, Nasdaq operates as a pioneer in maintaining market resiliency and mobilizing the latest practical technologies to strengthen and optimize the business performance of our partners and, most importantly, our clients. Amidst a rapidly changing economic and political environment, the technological advances used in financial services during 2016 reached staggering new heights by year-end.
As a financial technology company, we are especially excited about what is in store for 2017. We believe the following technology trends will have a significant impact on the capital markets this year.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will cross-cut almost everything that we do, and it will be applicable across the board—from helping customers to trade to market surveillance. We are bringing in nontraditional data sets including email and text messaging, sentiment and macroeconomics data, and we are mining log files from different systems for insights. The technology will be used to calculate and generate indices and exchange-traded funds. It will also be integrated into exchange matching engines (the system that matches buy and sell orders) so that it can make certain trade decisions.
Secure collaboration software and online portals will play an important part in how corporate directors and leadership teams work as compliance, board management and the need for a central document repository have become increasingly vital business propositions. These web and mobile app-based tools are typically designed with multiple security and functionality features to provide greater governance, engagement and transparency throughout an organization. As more companies begin to integrate collaboration software into their business workflows, the secure sharing of critical information will become more simplified.
Cloud providers are taking security seriously, and we anticipate that the financial cloud will soon be more secure than most traditional on-ground data centers. That would potentially allow us to make sensitive information more broadly available than on traditional, centralized databases. Exchanges need to comply with rules and regulations on fair and equal access for clients, so moving front-office applications to the cloud necessitates some technology changes. Running middle-office and back-office applications in the cloud is more straightforward, but in 2017 we will continue work to address the remaining security concerns regarding data separation and customer access to data.
The ability to mine data, normalize it, update analytics in real time and present it in a consolidated view is a source of competitive advantage. We are now seeing a seismic shift across the industry with machine learning and artificial intelligence enabling users to eliminate bias in the analysis and discover new patterns in the data.
There will be a diverse set of use cases for data analytics within financial services, including its application in the investor relations function, where analytics can assist the IR team by aggregating specific investor data points, filtering institutional investors by the positions they hold in your company’s stock and identifying specific investment characteristics.
Advancements in mobile technology have changed the way business professionals collaborate and access information. A new generation of cloud-based applications has simplified information sharing across device types. For example, we have combined mobile technology with other technologies—particularly cloud and blockchain—to enable remote proxy voting. To some extent, financial firms have been laggards in adopting mobile technology because of the security concerns, but addressing those will drive increased penetration.
Blockchain technology could create important efficiencies in position-keeping and reconciliation. For cash-settled securities, it could accelerate the clearing and settlement time frame from three days to same-day, significantly reducing risk in the system. Collateral could be moved around quickly and easily. On the settlement side, blockchain could complement several services, including managing payments and cash, transferring securities, facilitating collateral and tri-party arrangements, and securities lending.
It is clear that financial services in 2017 will evolve rapidly as new technology is integrated into the marketplace. These technologies will change how financial institutions manage their infrastructure, interact with one another, and ultimately, how industry leaders scale and grow their businesses. We are excited to see how the year unfolds.