Forefront Communications

OpenFin: Revolution and Evolution: Building a Modern Financial Desktop


Sam Belden

Sam Belden

When it comes to innovation, change is the only constant. The capital markets space as a whole is making progress in terms of digital transformation, but there is still a long road ahead – our data indicates that approximately 80% of the tools used by the industry are legacy applications. In order to ward off displacement, banks and buy side firms need a truly modern technology strategy that allows for constant evolution of their financial desktop.

Achieving this often means a re-evaluation of how software is built, packaged and distributed. Some of these outmoded processes have long been considered obsolete in other industries, but large financial institutions have been slower to adapt for a variety of reasons, which range from the sheer enormity of the task to a generally (and in some ways rightfully) risk-averse corporate culture. However, there are market participants that have made significant strides away from legacy and toward a more efficient future, and their actions represent nothing less than a revolution.

There are two key areas where this progress is being made. The first is modernization – the process of migrating legacy applications to the web and making them look and function more like those on your smartphone for a better user experience overall. The other is democratization – it’s easier than ever for anyone (not just incumbents) to deploy an app to clients, and end users can better integrate this content into their workflows. Today, we’ll tackle the first area: modernization. Software developers have a staggering number of tools at their disposal, and industry firms are leveraging these to build robust systems that offer powerful functionality while maintaining a seamless user experience.

Reaping the benefits of web migration

At the heart of these efforts is web migration. The move to web, and replacement of technologies such as Java and .NET, is a multi-industry trend. By leveraging the latest web technologies and open source code, developers can build modern, cross-platform apps that give users a rich experience while being deployed and updated from the cloud. Development is five times faster and the talent pool is wide, so the total cost of ownership is significantly lower. To reap the benefits, however, firms with legacy apps need a good migration strategy.

Rather than having to do a wholesale rewrite of legacy apps in a “big bang”, plan for a phased web migration approach. Legacy apps can be broken into smaller chunks and replaced over time in iterative cycles. You can also bring in an app that incorporates both legacy and web technologies, and includes an interoperability layer and native language adapters to ensure a seamless integration experience for the end users — using both data integration and visual integration between legacy and web components. Whether it’s re-platforming a legacy app onto the web or building a new tool from the ground up, this can be a daunting task, but the rewards are enormous.

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