Blog

A Culture of Innovation

Posted in Culture on
Friday, March 17, 2017
by James Smith

Welcome back! If you’re just joining us, we’ve been talking a lot about growth lately. Growth is one of our guiding principles – we strive to grow as a company and a platform in order to enable our clients to grow their business. One way we do that is by fostering a culture of innovation, challenging employees to stretch their imaginations and capabilities in a variety of ways.

One such program is the Eze Innovation Challenge, a contest to bring the best out in our development force. Three years ago, when Eze Software was formed following the mergers of Eze Castle with RealTick and Tradar, we carved out a few days a year to bring the development teams together for a chance to work on anything they want. It’s a great way to improve work/life balance, and provide a chance for imaginations to soar.

We’ve seen any number of fun things come out over the years – including working prototypes for integrations with Oculus and Alexa. But what really makes a winning entry? When we evaluate entries, we judge them based on three main criteria:

  • The pure technological innovation – is the technology used new, unusual, or used in a different way?
  • Does the idea have a business application? Is it improving customer workflows, or improving our internal processes?
  • How complete is the idea? Given the timeframe for the build, how far removed from actual production is the end result?

While the teams have had their share of truly crazy and fun projects over the years, what’s been remarkable is the consistent flow of practical business application ideas. This tendency speaks to the culture of innovation at Eze: we develop from the ground up, with ideas borne of actual problems our clients are trying to solve.

The most recent challenge’s entries were no exception. We saw applications to improve reconciliation, spread trading improvements and visualization apps. But the winner that took home the trophy truly focused on making life easier for our customers, creating an iterative allocation breakout process that’s going simplify daily life for many OMS clients.

The team of Abishek Shetty, Anand Joshi, Liang Chen, Shengkai Kong and Zheng Li tackled a workflow problem, creating an iterative allocation breakout process that’s going to be a game changer for OMS clients who allocate using preset schemes. Typically, when a client creates a set of portfolio allocations, they are then checked against compliance, and violations are returned to the user. If there are violations, the client then has to go back and adjust the allocations themselves. For example, when a fund cannot participate in the allocation because the symbol is restricted. Eze’s motto has been to eliminate such manual processes as much as possible, cutting down to fewer clicks. So, the team knew they could make that process faster and give a better result to clients by doing more of that work inside the software.

The entry won because the team creatively approached a communicated client problem by building compliance results into the allocation workflow itself. By auto-excluding restricted allocations from scheme-based trades, the workflow improvement saves the end-user time and effort in tackling compliance with a firm’s allocation guidelines. And, thanks to the impressive levels of completion the team was able to tackle in just 48 hours, it’s been easy to implement into the production environment. Congrats, team!

The Innovation Challenge is an annual event, deploying all the regional R&D centers across Eze Software and culminating in the Battle of the Champions. It’s just one example of Eze’s culture of innovation, and a great source of ideas for projects to come. Stay tuned as we discuss upcoming projects in more detail.

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James Smith, Senior Managing Director, Product Development, Eze Software

James Smith

James joined Eze Software in 2001 and currently oversees global development and quality assurance for all products as senior managing director. During his tenure, he has held numerous leadership positions across the development organization and has overseen key development initiatives that transformed the product and its architecture. James led the team that rebuilt the Order Management System as a .Net application and was a key member of the team that developed the industry’s first real-time trade order management blotter. Prior to joining Eze Software, James worked as a developer at Innovation Chain, an internet startup, from 2000-2001, and at Raytheon as Systems Engineer II from 1997-2000.

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