Unified communications sounds complicated. But in principle it's actually very simple and hinges on two factors. First, you must be able to switch seamlessly from one communication channel to another. Imagine you're on the phone and you decide you want to speak to your colleague face to face. Simple - just click an icon and the conversation immediately shifts to a video screen on your workstation. Second, a true unified communications system will automatically direct the caller to the most appropriate channel. Log off your office network, and a call goes through to your mobile - without the need to set up manual call forwarding nor to check several messaging boxes. This flexible and intuitive approach to unified communications makes it highly suitable for trading rooms.
Unified communications is helping financial institutions evolve beyond the focus on devices towards a new approach that centres on users and communities. It has the potential to increase business performance and improve overall productivity. Unified communications also supports greater collaboration between traders and analysts. One of its main strengths is that it provides you with a single identity that is recognised by your own network, your colleagues and the organisations of your counterparty. By replacing fragmented identities with one, employees on the move can use mobile devices or home landlines to participate in business.
In addition, traders are turning to communication channels such as instant messaging (IM) and social medias, which are familiar in the mass market but less so on the trading floor. The reason that IM functions so well is that it is a great tool for real-time or near real-time communication at the start of the trading cycle. It also supports compliance - not just because most systems now record written conversations, but because institutions can better comply with the need to prove best execution under MiFID.
Unified communications answers many of the critical challenges that face trading institutions in the early 21st century. It offers more transparency, clearer messages, greater accountability and lower costs. In my view, it's an essential platform for financial institutions' success in the coming decade and beyond.
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Head of Marketing & Strategy at Orange Trading Solutions in Paris