Announcing the XMon DataOps Module

In June 2019, we wrote about the three pillars for establishing a Data Operations function to provide access to data in a transparent, controlled and reportable way.

XMon supports Data Operations teams and enables access to data at scale, without losing the grip on usage compliance and spend. The latest XMon release includes a dedicated DataOps module to allow for the management, granular attribution, simulation and reconciliation of data usage.

Viewing and tagging requests

Understanding which consumers are requesting data and for what purpose is a basic principle for data usage transparency. This being said, it is not an easy principle to implement. With the XMon request tagging functionality, Data Administrators can extract all data requests (both internal and external) and assign metadata attributes to these requests, manually or through automated tagging rules. This allows a granular attribution of the data request to a specific consumer (e.g. Back Office Team), a specific business process (e.g. Risk Report) or any other custom defined attribute. Tags are then used by the XMon Data Analytics engine to provide in-depth analytics and a level of detail for usage reports that is not possible to achieve with traditional methods.

Data Attribute and Security Lookup

With the XMon DataOps Attribute and Security Lookup feature, Data Administrators can lookup any security reference or data attribute (field) used within the organization. This can then be tied back to a specific consumer or business line. Operational tasks like usage reporting and pruning of expired or unnecessary securities and attributes becomes much easier, much more efficient and more transparent.

Cost simulations and compliance checks

One of the tasks of a DataOps team is to ensure that any changes to data requests do not incur unexpected cost spikes and that data requests are compliant to internal and external usage agreements. With the XMon DataOps cost simulation functionality, Data Administrators can obtain the cost of a data request by simply uploading through the XMon DataOps interface. In addition to obtaining relevant cost information, XMon will validate the request against a set of compliance and data access rules to ensure it doesn’t breach any terms.

Reconciling invoices and reporting

The XMon Invoice Reconciliation feature allows Data Administrators to validate vendor invoices by independently re-calculating and re-building data invoices. This important step provides third-party validation of invoice amounts and ensures all parties have a clear understanding of the way invoices are calculated and how data is charged.

Much more…

The XMon DataOps module centralizes data operations, increasing efficiency, ensuring compliance and reducing spend. Contact us for more information about the features available or how we can help your organization take control over reference data.

 

Feature highlight: Using XMon to track reference data calls from Microsoft Excel workbooks

Microsoft Excel is used extensively by all users in an organization. In the context of reference data, users can create spreadsheets containing data vendor formulas (e.g. Bloomberg Reference Data or Refinitiv) to download reference data and use it for custom reports, analysis and bespoke calculations.

Although extremely useful from a user perspective, downloading reference data in Excel has two pitfalls that can challenge the most hardened DataOps teams.
First, reference data is subject to usage compliance terms and controlling how data is used once it is in a spreadsheet is notoriously difficult.

Second, reference data has associated costs and providing ubiquitous access to reference data directly from a spreadsheet can cause cost spikes and uncontrolled increases in spend.

XMon addresses these challenges and helps organizations take control of reference data usage in Excel workbooks

How XMon can help

In early June, we released a new XMon feature to help organizations better manage reference data access in Excel, namely by:

  1. Automatically detecting Excel workbooks that contain reference data access formulas
  2. Allowing DataOperations teams to track which securities and associated fields are being pulled in Excel
  3. Allowing DataOperations teams to create cost and compliance rules to be notified in real-time if an Excel workbook breaches cost or compliance terms

What this looks like in XMon

DataOps analysts can upload a given workbook to XMon directly or use the XMon tracker agent to detect workbooks with vendor reference data calls. In both cases, XMon will inventory the workbooks found and list them for access. The screenshot below shows what this looks like:

Clicking on the icon displays the workbook factsheet and associated reference data cost, list of fields and list securities detected:

Using the XMon rules engine, data administrators can create compliance rules so they can be immediately notified in case of non-compliance or in case of expensive requests.

Audit and compliance reports

Reporting on reference data usage is notoriously difficult and coupling this with the requirement to understand which users are retrieving data in Excel workbooks can put a heavy load on DataOps teams trying to ensure compliance and keeping costs in check. With XMon, generating evidence backed usage reports becomes much easier, providing data analysts with the tools necessary to track costs and compliance in real-time and generating accurate and timely usage reports.

 

Reach out for more information about how XMon can help your organization understand, control and derive insights from your reference data usage.

 

XMon Data Analytics meets Covid-19 data

 XMon is known for its ability to track reference data calls and provide in-depth analytics of usage metrics, consumption, cost allocation and spend optimization. Our focus is reference data, but XMon’s core engine is able to process nearly any type of data.

To put this into perspective, we decided to source COVID-19 data and to plug it into XMon. We generated evolution graphs and set up alerts to be proactively notified of the status of the pandemic and of its development globally and per country.

We also had a brief look into whether Covid-19 had any significant impact on reference data consumption across our customer base.

Here’s what we did.

Data Sourcing

First, it was important to find a reliable source for Covid-19 data that we could connect XMon to. We decided to source ours from the Covid-19 free API, available here:

https://covid19api.com/

The API is easy to integrate with and provides historical data in JSON format, sourced from the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Designing the XMon Metric

Once the data source was decided on, we configured an XMon metric with sufficient attributes to enable us to run reports and process automated alerts. We were interested in recorded the following attributes:

  • Timestamp of data
  • Country
  • Number of new cases (daily and cumulative)
  • Number of recovered cases (daily and cumulative)
  • Number of deaths (daily and cumulative)

Once set up in the system, the XMon metric looked like this:

Defining a metric in XMon, with different attributes to store Covid-19 data

Data Collection

The XMon data collection agent was configured to obtain data historically, starting March 1, 2020 and automatically on a daily basis after the historical upload was completed.

Once enabled, data started flowing into the XMon dashboards and in a matter of minutes was available in the monitoring dashboards, the graph below shows the number daily confirmed cases for the UK since March 1, 2020:

Covid-19 data collected in XMon, displayed in table a graph view, graph showing UK daily confirmed cases

The daily deaths in the United Kingdom shows a spike on the 29th of April, which corresponds to the UK government’s addition of deaths in care homes:

Number of Covid-19 deaths in the United Kingdom, showing spike of reported cases on April 29 due to addition of cases in care homes

Automated Notifications and Alerts

While data was being collected, we configured automatic analysis rules to detect and proactively notify then team when a fall in the number of daily new cases over a 3 consecutive day period was detected, per country. The screenshot below shows how the rule was defined in XMon for Australia:

Rule definition, used to trigger an alert when the number of Covid-19 cases drops over a 3-day period. This rule will generate an alert for Australia.

Displayed in a colour coded dashboard, we notice that all countries we were monitoring still had an increase in the number of cases over three consecutive days in the observed week (27th April 2020 – 03rd May 2020):

XMon rules dashboard, shows a color coded status of the epidemic per country

The XMon Analytics engine continues to process and analyse data and generate automated alerts when the number of Covid-19 cases decreases over a three day period per country.

Analytics

Once historical data acquisition was completed, we ran historical trend analysis graphs, which showed the evolution of the daily deaths attributed to Covid-19 for selected countries of interest as well as the 7-day moving average:

Daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK with 7 day moving average
Daily Covid-19 deaths in Italy with 7 day moving average
Daily Covid-19 deaths in Sweden with 7 day moving average
Daily Covid-19 deaths in the USA with 7 day moving average

Split by region, we obtain the graph below, showing the number of daily deaths across South America, Oceania, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa:

Number of daily deaths by region

Did Covid-19 affect reference data request volumes?

An interesting question was to see whether there was a noticeable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on reference data consumption across our client base. We ran a simple scenario to determine whether data volumes had been impacted since March 1, 2020 and compared it to the same period last year. Stripping out variations due to active XMon cost optimisations as well effects of significant business changes, we notice that there was nearly no difference in data requests over the periods of interest, if anything things may be on a lower trend:

Closing remarks

XMon provides powerful data ingestion and processing engines that are used to process vast amounts of requests for reference data across our clients. The XMon engine can, and has also been used to track other types of data, for example internal data requests flowing within the organization, or, as this article has briefly shown, scientific data related to the global pandemic we are all witnessing at the moment.

Reach out for more information about the provided analytics, graphs or alerts, or to see how the XMon team can help make sense of your data, whether it’s reference data or otherwise.

Please stay safe!

Smart Sourcing and Smart Usage

In this whitepaper, authored by Asset Control and XPansion, we discuss optimizing data usage and data management.

Topics Covered:

  • A fast-changing market data landscape
  • Data Management: The Commercial Perspective
  • Data Management: The Business User Perspective
  • Data Management: The Regulatory Perspective
  • Best Practices in Data Sourcing
  • Best Practices in Data Management and Data Governance
  • Introducing XMon from XPansion
  • Introducing Ops360 from Asset Control

 

Download the whitepaper

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Derive monthly insights using XMon automated reports

Why monthly invoices are not enough

Invoices received from vendors on a monthly basis provide an a summary of the month’s spend and costs but are limited to current month’s spend. If you’re looking to get a better understanding, control and governance over data usage, you’ll need more analytics, especially relative indicators to quickly compare against last month’s usage and identify sources of usage spikes.

Three metrics to look for in a monthly reference data analytics report:

  1. Data consumer allocation for the current period, in comparison to last month: this helps determine whether specific consumers have changed their data consumption behavior during the current period.
  2. Data category allocation: this allows data operations teams to understand whether new data categories have been requested during the current month that have not been used before.
  3. Asset class allocation: this helps data teams manage understand whether any new asset classes have been accessed during the period and any asset classes that have no longer been used.

Simplifying access to data analytics

Over the last few weeks our BA team has been working on simplifying customer access to monthly analytics and have built automated, simple to understand reports that provide usage insights, showcasing the above three metrics in a synthesized and easy to access format. These reports are sent automatically by XMon, straight to your team’s inbox.

The XMon Monthly Review report is sent automatically at every end of month and graphically displays usage trends, relative indicators and allocation by consumer, data category and asset class for a comprehensive review of data usage as well as a clear comparison with last months utilisation. The screenshot below shows a comparison data category consumption:

Monthly Data Category Access, relative to the previous period

The above example indicates a nearly 50% increase in Historical data spend, while Pricing usage has declined slightly. Data category classification, coupled with other metrics, such as consumer and asset class allocation also available in the report, allow your data operations teams to better understand usage and derive actionable insights based on your firm’s usage patterns.

DataOps as a service and tailored recommendations

Using the monthly report, you’ll be able to trigger more detailed business intelligence extracts from XMon to drive usage optimisations. For example, to understand how a data category’s trends have evolved over the period, simply generate the field analysis report (STD12) and obtain a deeper understanding of the underlying reasons for increasing trends, in minutes. Using the field analysis report you’ll also be able to identify the actions that can be put in place to mitigate the increased utilisation.

If you’re a client subscribed to the XMon DataOperations as a service, you will get the added benefit of a more detailed analysis, run by our team of experts, and monthly tailored recommendations to optimise your spend.

Contact us for more information about our dataOps as a service or for more details about how your firm could benefit from better data usage analytics.

Xignite to Integrate XPansion Analytics and Reporting Tools into Market Data Management Cloud Platform

We look forward to working with the team at Xignite and extending realtime reference data usage analytics to their next-generation Market Data Cloud Platform. Full press release below:

Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, today announced a strategic partnership with XPansion, a provider of market data usage, tracking and business monitoring software. Xignite will integrate XPansion’s XMon analytics and reporting functionality into their Market Data Cloud Platform to provide capital markets clients even more transparency of their licensed market data usage and costs, allowing them to manage consumption, allocate costs and avoid vendor compliance risk.  

Hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud, the Xignite Market Data Cloud Platform is a market data management solution that enables optimization of market data distributed across an enterprise, providing clients with tools to control, entitle and track data consumption across businesses. The solution is the industry’s only cloud-based market data management and optimization platform that can manage data flow across the latency spectrum, including real-time, end-of-day, reference and historical data. 

Adding XMon functionality will provide clients with enhanced business intelligence, analytics and reporting capabilities. XMon’s dynamic dashboards and reporting tools empower business users to interrogate data usage, control and allocate costs across data vendors. By optimizing vendor data requests and streamlining data access across businesses, clients could see a significant reduction in overall market data spend within the first year. 

“Empowering our clients with the tools to understand how they are consuming data and providing them with technology to establish transparency and control spend in real-time has been our focus from the beginning,” said Amjad Zoghbi, Director and co-founder of XPansion. “Clients consume increasing amounts of data and coupling powerful analytics with a robust data distribution platform is essential in today’s data landscape. We are very excited to be partnering with Xignite and extending XMon’s analytics and controls to their next-generation Market Data Cloud Platform”

“Market data is a complex environment where vendor fees and commercial licensing models continue to change, putting pressure on buy and sell side firms to control access and costs.” said Stephane Dubois, CEO and Founder, Xignite. “Providing clients with a solution to regain control of market data flow and consumption is core to our mission of simplifying the acquisition, management and dissemination of market data. We are delighted to partner with XPansion, combining their superior analytics with the proven data management capabilities of our Market Data Cloud Platform is a win for clients.”

About Xignite

Xignite Makes Market Data Easy. Xignite is leading the disruption of the market data industry with its AWS-based financial data distribution and market data management solutions. Xignite’s Market Data Cloud Platform provides market data managers full transparency on the usage of a firm’s first-level real-time and reference data – making it easy for data owners to entitle, control consumption, comply with licensing requirements, allocate costs, and resolve vendor audits or invoice discrepancies. Xignite also powers financial data-driven robo-advisors, online brokerages, and investing apps with its real-time, delayed and historical pricing data offered via 500+ REST Cloud APIs. Visit http://www.xignite.com or follow on Twitter @xignite.

About XPansion FTS

XPansion is a technology firm delivering enterprise, cloud-based solutions that empower data operations and data management teams to better understand and control data usage and improve data governance. XMon Static Data, our leading solution for reference data usage tracking and control, allows clients to understand data usage and costs, enforce data access controls and optimize reference data spend. XMon Business Process is our solution for internal data lineage and monitoring internal data usage. Our cloud-based solutions can be used alone or combined for powerful and comprehensive data usage and control functionality. Visit https://www.xpansionfts.com for more information.

Announcing our partnership with TRG Screen

Excited to announce our partnership with TRG Screen and look forward to working with the team and extending XMon's functionality to TRG Screen's customers!

Read the full press release below:

TRG SCREEN ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP FOR XPANSION XMON REFERENCE DATA USAGE TRACKING

Adds industry-leading reference data usage tracking to TRG Screen’s range of market data usage management solutions

July 8, 2019 – New YorkTRG Screen (“TRG”), the leading provider of subscription spend management software solutions, today announced it has agreed global distribution rights for XMon Reference Data Usage Management with XPansion.

Under the agreement, TRG will provide sales and relationship management for new customers, while XPansion will provide after-sales support and development, and continue to manage all existing client relationships.

XMon adds a new dimension to market data cost management and provides transparency, control and governance over reference data usage and spend. XMon provides customers with a framework for a solid Data Operations and Data Management function where data consumers are uniquely identified and access to reference data is controlled and metered. Optimization opportunities, such as duplicated pay-per-download charges, are clearly highlighted, and cost allocations based on actual usage can be easily assembled for accurate charge back to internal users and applications. XMon can operate passively – being copied in on requests to analyze the usage – or operate actively as a proxy controlling the outbound flow of requests to reference data vendors.

Adding XMon to TRG’s range of usage management solutions continues TRG strategy of expanding its usage management capabilities to the full spectrum of market data types. With TRG’s ResearchMonitor the usage of all web-delivered and installed desktop applications can be accurately tracked, and with DART detailed usage information of market data terminals can be monitored and analyzed. The addition of XMon for reference data monitoring completes the company’s coverage of all significant market data spend.

“Reference data feeds from vendors such as Bloomberg and Refinitiv are crucial to financial firms but our clients are conscious these can be very high cost services and are concerned they lack transparency on or control of the usage” said Leigh Walters, Chief Commercial Officer at TRG. “Our partnership for XMon allows us to provide a complete solution to our clients – alongside web, terminal and desktop usage tracking – completing the full spectrum of coverage for financial market data usage tracking. We are the only vendor providing a solution which provides market data spend management capabilities for the whole subscription lifecycle coupled with usage management spanning the full spectrum of market data types.”

TRG and XPansion will work together to further develop the strategic direction of the product and to provide integration with TRG’s enterprise spend management platforms, FITS and INFOmatch (the latter which was obtained as part of TRG’s acquisition of Screen Group in 2018).

“Reference data is a growing spend in financial institutions of all sizes” said Amjad Zoghbi, Director and co-founder of XPansion. “Managing reference data usage effectively, requires an in-depth understanding of complex commercial models and compliance constraints. Without a solid technology framework in place, costs of reference data can easily spiral out of control and understanding data consumption can be a challenging and time-consuming task. XMon provides accurate, real-time, information of data consumption by application, user, vendor and allows clients to allocate costs back in a fair, transparent and repeatable way. We look forward to our integration with TRG Screen’s suite of leading products and to extending our capabilities and cost saving opportunities to TRG Screen’s customers.”

About TRG Screen

TRG Screen (“TRG”) is the leading provider of software solutions used to monitor and manage subscription spend and usage across the entire enterprise. Founded in 1998, TRG is uniquely differentiated by its ability to monitor both spend and usage of data and information services including market data, research, software licenses, consulting and other corporate expenses. TRG’s solutions provide its customers with full transparency into their vendor relationships and their subscription spend and usage, enabling them to optimize their enterprise subscriptions. TRG acquired Priory Solutions in 2016 and Screen Group in 2018 and with these acquisitions is now positioned as the global market leader in the financial, legal and professional services markets. TRG’s product portfolio includes FITS and INFOmatch spend management, ResearchMonitor usage monitoring and Quest enquiry management solutions. For more information visit

www.trgscreen.com.

About XPansion

XPansion is a technology firm delivering enterprise, cloud-based solutions that empower data operations and data management teams to better understand and control usage and improve data governance. XMon Static Data, our leading solution for reference data usage tracking and control, allows clients to understand data usage and costs, enforce data access controls and optimize reference data spend. XMon Business Process is our solution for internal data lineage and monitoring internal data usage. Our cloud-based solutions can be used alone or combined for powerful and comprehensive data usage and control functionality.

Visit https://www.xpansionfts.com for more information.

Three principles for efficient Data Operations

 

With the increased proliferation of data subscription models coupled with ever changing complex regulation and end-user expectations of speed in delivery, market data management teams have an increasingly difficult role answering to business requirements while keeping finances and regulation in check.

The problem is not new and has been seen time and again across verticals that have witnessed scale factors that can sometimes inhibit agility.

Similarly to other verticals (Sales, Development etc.) Market Data teams should provide a Data Operations function, that brings technology, finance and business together with the aim of improving efficiency and increasing competitiveness.

The foundation for a data operation function should encompass three principles:

  1. Understand the data landscape
  2. Optimize usage
  3. Operate

Understand the data landscape

Increase transparency by fundamentally understanding how and why users and applications consume data. True transparency starts with a combination of low-level gathering of technical data points as well as the establishment of a functional dictionary that end users and market data professionals can relate to and synthesize.

Establish a process of reporting that provides answers to tactical questions, but also establish long term analytics and trends as well as benchmarks on which business units can judge their usage.

Optimize usage

Based on usage information, obtain insights that will ensure usage is optimal from a cost and regulatory perspective. Establish the foundations to support near-realtime decision making when this is needed.

Operate

Establish controls for data consumption by ensuring company-wide policies are enforced at the consumer level. But also, empower individual business units and stakeholders to answer their own questions around usage, costs and regulation. Queries on market data usage, costs and compliance should take minutes or seconds as opposed to the current norm of days, weeks or even months.

XMon for Market Data Operations

XMon has been built to provide the three principles for an efficient market data operations function: Understand the data landscape, Optimize usage and Operate. XMon empowers your Market DataOps team using a scalable, enterprise solution that provides auditability, transparency and scale.

Reach out to learn more about how XMon can help answer your team’s most difficult questions on market data usage.

Reference Data Management in the Modern Era

For too long market data management boiled down, for the most part, to the timely payment of invoices. With data usage (and costs) steadily increasing and the proliferation of data sources, data types and data vendors as well as the diversification of data consumers (hear data scientists), market data management can no longer be restricted to a reactive, administrative role.

Proactive usage tracking

Managing data effectively, is more fundamental than plotting historical cost graphs and allocating costs based on arbitrary, static formulas. Effective data management requires a proactive understanding of:

  1. Who data consumers are
  2. How are data consumers requesting data and from which data source is the request going to
  3. What such data is being used for
  4. Does the data cost justify its use

In addition to the above, market data management is not only about understanding usage and cost, market data management must include the ability to proactively control market data usage by:

  1. Restricting access to data for individual consumers based on their needs
  2. Controlling which data points (securities, fields) are available to consumers and sometimes enforcing data consumption policies
  3. Allocating costs back to consumers based on fair, factual data consumption analytics
  4. Ensuring data usage is compliant to vendor agreements as well as internal and external policies and regulations
  5. Generating market data usage intelligence through Market data usage reporting

Beyond cost efficiencies

Although cost optimisation is a central focus is any market data management policy, it is by far not the only one. As data usage becomes more complex and more commoditised, tracking data within the firm becomes a necessity to respond to ever increasing regulation and compliance considerations. Data tracking, also known as data lineage is one of the most debated topics in modern market data management circles. Data lineage requires a clear understanding of detailed usage and a factual audit trail that can be revisited on-demand, sometimes weeks or months after the fact.

XMon: Market Data Usage: Under Control

XMon is a fully managed reference data usage analysis and business intelligence plaform. XMon centralizes reference data requests into one data management interface where individual consumers are uniquely identified and data requests are tracked and can be controlled. This provides unparalleled levels of detail for market data usage reporting, ensures cost efficiencies are achieved and market data governance is met.

Reach out to us for more information, we’d love to chat.

 

 

 

Try our online data cost simulator

We’ve just released a online version of a Bloomberg data license per-security request cost simulator. The simulator uses the XMon RestAPI to calculate the cost of a given data request and returns a breakdown by asset class and data category. Use one of the provided samples or copy-paste your own BBG per-security request to try it out and get an estimate of your request cost.

The tool is available here and is totally free to use, go ahead and give it a spin!

The simulator calculates the initial hit cost of a data request and does not take into account multi-hits. Contact us for a full-featured trial of XMon, which includes multi-hit support, advanced business intelligence and cost optimisation analytics. All XMon customers also have access to secure RestAPI endpoints which provide advanced integration capabilities and the ability to programmatically integrate to the XMon engine.

Reach out for a full demo of the product and a discussion on how XMon could help you get back control of your data spend.