NEW YORK & LONDON, May 26, 2021– Cloud9 Technologies (“Cloud9”), a leader in cloud-based communications, has partnered with Sphere, the industry’s first unified electronic and voice data app, to empower institutional traders to seamlessly convert Cloud9 voice communications into real-time electronic pricing that can be shared across the entire organization. The integration leverages Cloud9’s existing Recording System API to push metadata and post-call voice recording into Sphere’s one-of-a-kind app, giving institutional traders a more comprehensive view of the market.
By combining Cloud9’s rich metadata, high voice quality, cloud architecture, and API delivery strategy with Sphere’s ability to distill meaning and data from unstructured speech and text, and merge extracted data with electronic pricing, customers are given unique insights and new trading options that were never before possible – in one holistic application.
Sphere extracts trading information from Cloud9’s voice data by applying industry-leading AI (patent pending) that is tailored for the language and workflows of voice markets and merges this with electronic trading. Sphere’s IM integration also enables clients to extract market data from text communications and monitor and record voice and IM feeds for analytical and compliance purposes.
“There’s no shortage of market data but firms have been struggling with efficient ways to turn voice and electronic data into actionable insights in a single platform,” said Brian Hunt, Chief Administrative Office and Head of Partnerships at Cloud9. “The integration of Cloud9’s voice data with Sphere’s sophisticated application delivers a level of transparency and simplicity that institutional traders have needed for quite some time.”
“For a long time there has been a disparity between the way that institutional traders approach voice versus electronic trading. We wanted to change that,” said Ami Katschinski, CEO and co-founder of Sphere. “The collaboration of Sphere and Cloud9 takes the best in voice data and incorporates it into a solution that addresses this pain point, enabling customers to see and interact with the entirety of the market in one easy app for the first time.”
The flexibility and interoperability that the partnership delivers ensure that the integrated solution can be deployed to customers within minutes.
About Cloud9 Technologies
Cloud9 Technologies is the leading voice communication and analytics platform designed for the unique needs of the financial markets. Cloud9 developed a solution that harnesses the voice communication talk path for the trading floor of the future – offering more functionality and analytic insight than legacy hardware at a fraction of the cost. Cloud9 connects counterparties across all asset classes via a cloud-based communication platform that eliminates the infrastructure and expense associated with legacy hardware and telecommunication-based solutions, with front-office focused data and transcription, purpose-built for the financial markets. For more information, visit www.c9tec.com.
Founded and led by a team of seasoned market professionals and technology experts, Sphere is designed to offer a new approach for addressing the complexity of hybrid and voice markets. It provides institutional traders with an unparalleled solution for combining content and data from voice and IM communications together with electronic trading and data feeds in one holistic app. Sphere launched its AI-powered app in early 2021; it is the industry’s first app that seamlessly blends voice and electronic markets. For more information, visit https://sphere.buzz/.
EVP, Media Relations, Paragon PR
One year out from the start of the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic that changed working conditions globally, many firms continue to struggle with how to address the challenges they have faced during the transition, particularly voice trading in what has become a virtual market ecosystem. While every company needs to employ remote working capabilities, there is no question that it is difficult to manage and can create challenges when trying to access and store voice data.
Virtual voice data
There are a number of systems that can capture voice data and many others that can retrieve it, store it, and analyze it. However, there is no single standard defining how institutional voice data needs to be captured. Firms have ample amounts of voice metadata detailing where a conversation began and where it ended, but one of the issues the industry faces is that there is no single agreement on how to represent voice data in a unified way. This has resulted in consumers of that data having to integrate and manage a wide array of unstructured data formats.
As customers became more interested – and in some cases compelled – to capture information from voice communications, it became clear that this issue needed to be addressed.
The FINOS Voice Metadata Standardization working group has taken a number of steps to try to unify the metadata. However, in order for these steps to be enacted and become valuable to users, the standard needs to be adopted across the industry to ensure the process is uniform.
While the simple facet of the equation is capturing and storing voice data in a standard-based method, the more difficult element is transcribing the data and then structuring it so that firms can make more informed trading decisions and leverage it for regulatory purposes.
There are numerous vendors that have expertise in natural language processing (NLP), data structuring, and transcribing data. It will be the responsibility of the producers of such data to make it available via standards-based APIs whereby owners of this data can easily make it available to their vendors.
In the cloud versus on-prem
The next barrier is access to the data. When examining the current situation around structuring data for voice, the lead question must be how comfortable companies will be capturing and storing recordings and metadata in the cloud.
As financial institutions continue to acclimate to longer-term remote work strategies, some are employing permanent work-from-home policies, while others are returning to their offices. Regardless of the approach, the reality is that it will be a hybrid of the two for the foreseeable future. This has resulted in not only an increased appetite for the cloud – but an increased need, particularly in enhancing flexibility and redundancy.
Today, the majority of metadata is captured and stored in on-site facilities. A potentially more effective solution is the use of secure cloud storage. This allows users to access data via APIs making it available to analytics vendors of the customer’s choice and allowing them to leverage the full value of the data.
There are some institutional traders that are generating more than 300,000 recordings per month and are using cloud-based APIs that allow them to perform reconciliation at better than 99.9% accuracy. This provides better accuracy than many on-prem systems. For the first time, customers are approaching vendors for more robust cloud-based voice data solutions as opposed to the other way around. These software-based voice trading systems also provide the compliance features necessary to allow proper trading oversight regardless of work environment.
A software-based voice trading system that can be used from anywhere has become much more than just a “nice to have” – it is now a basic necessity.
Future of voice data
Historically compliance and surveillance have been managed with on-premise solutions. But with new challenges of remote working and tremendous advances in technology, effective cloud-based UCC and voice trading solutions are emerging. This shift has forced vendors to offer products that work as well in cloud settings as they do in traditional on-prem, while enabling a seamless transition to what will be the new normal.
For the first time, firms are more open and comfortable allowing their data – including voice and communication data and disaster recovery solutions – to reside in the cloud. With users that traditionally work both on and off the trading floor distributed across numerous locations, the cloud has become the easiest place to store and retrieve data.
Voice data will be made more accessible and available as it migrates to the cloud allowing owners of data to grant access to best-of-breed analytics vendors. Compliance vendors will use standardized APIs to access that data to provide compliance and analytics capabilities regardless of the location of the systems that are generating the data.
Finally, if an industry-wide standard for the data format is agreed to, producers and consumers of that data will find it far easier to provide value to their customers.
This article was originally published in Traders Magazine.
2020 was a year unlike any other. Despite our worst fears, many organizations were able to respond quickly and deal with change. In some cases, we managed to improve business communications despite the demise of the traditional office setting. To illustrate these points, Glue42 gathered insights from renowned fintech experts.
Here’s what our CAO, Brian Hunt had to say:
“Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a major shift across the institutional trading landscape as traders were forced off the traditional trading floor and into remote working conditions. While the pandemic has been a catalyst, it was not the sole driver of this structural shift. Voice trading and mobility remain prominent factors in the institutional trading ecosystem but they must be supported by secure and reliable cloud infrastructure in order to access the ‘virtual trading floor’ that is quickly becoming the new normal.
Many firms realized at the outset of the pandemic that they lacked the resources to adequately capture voice data because they had been relying heavily on antiquated technology. Cloud9 quickly stepped in with our cloud-based voice communication APIs to ensure greater flexibility and interoperability, regardless of where they were located, ultimately leading to a 50% increase in our business.
In an industry that’s becoming increasingly digitized, productivity should not be impacted. In fact, we’ve learned that firms can even elevate efficiency by leveraging the right resources, from front-office trading software to regulatory and compliance solutions. We expect that trend to continue this year but it starts with creating a more nimble, cloud-based environment for individuals on and off the trading floor.”