Forefront Communications

OpenFin: Revolution and Evolution: Desktop Democracy

Forefront Communications

Forefront Communications

How democratization is changing the desktop for financial services firms

In OpenFin‘s last post, we talked about how modernization has revolutionized the financial desktop, giving developers the power to leverage the vast tools at their disposal and build cutting-edge applications that are easier to deploy and update than ever before. By focussing on the nuts and bolts that make up these functionalities, we gain a greater appreciation of the extent to which innovation leads to a better experience for the end user.

However, this isn’t the only aspect of the digital transformation that is occurring across the financial services industry. In addition to modernization, there has been major momentum around the democratization of the desktop – that is, the idea that it should be easier for developers to deliver apps to end users at desktops managed by central IT. Today, we’ll examine how this shift is enabling efficiencies and innovation on an unprecedented scale.

A note to the reader, this is where it gets technical. For those of you eager for the granular detail, please read on… for those of you looking for the business value, I/we suggest skipping on to ‘Staying ahead of the curve’ and send/leave the app deployment and integration to the CIO/CTO!

Simplifying app deployment

Traditionally, bringing applications and content to financial services firms was the domain of large incumbents only. Software deployment was a difficult process involving many cumbersome steps and leading to significant overhead costs due to IT security reviews, software packaging, and other issues. These might seem like small considerations, but navigating them at scale was a tremendous undertaking, which led to smaller or upstart providers being squeezed out.

Deployment challenges affect not only emerging FinTechs but also incumbents including banks and major platform providers. Bank single dealer platforms (SDPs) for example have numerous difficulties deploying to their customers’ desktops and dealing with all the same issues that vendors have deploying to the banks’ internal desktops. For app developers, whether FinTechs or incumbents, the deployment challenge exists whenever there is a need to install a desktop app. Browser-based apps aren’t installed and therefore don’t suffer from the same deployment overhead. The kinds of apps that require a native desktop experience (and not a browser experience) include apps for trading, real-time market data, order management, instant messaging, collaboration tools and much more — anything that needs to conserve screen real estate, popup, push, auto-start or otherwise maintain stickiness, this has become especially important with the growth of remote working. In fact, the vast majority of vendors in the capital markets space struggle through the pain of installing apps because the end user experience is so critical and browser apps won’t do.

A new solution has emerged that combines the best of both worlds – the ease of deployment of web apps and the native experience of installed apps. This new approach, sometimes referred to as “container technology”, gives web apps the look and feel of native applications with a range of powerful features designed to fit into modern workflows, while retaining the speed and flexibility of web deployment. There’s no need for software packaging or security reviews.

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