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April 30, 1998

Voyage on a Great New Carrier of Information: Intranets Promise Traders a Wave of Low-Cost Financ

By John Edwards

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Internet-based networking technology is heading toward the trading floor, promising traders faster and easier access to a wide array of market data and analytics.

The technology has spawned Intranets, linking traders to each other and to information resources both inside and outside their firms.

Intranets are a type of private network using Internet technology to allow electronic communications among users. A company e-mail system is a good example.

As Intranets begin arriving on trading floors over the next few years, desktops will undergo radical transformations.

Standalone computer workstations and terminals will be replaced by "thin clients" - stripped-down PCs costing as little as $500 - that are designed specifically for Intranet use.

Intranet technology's impact on traders will be immense, said Lawrence Tabb, group director of The Tower Group, a Newton, Mass.-based firm that analyzes technology trends in the banking and securities industries. "Intranets will give traders a degree of data flexibility and integration they can now only dream about."

According to Tabb, the era of separate terminals handling individual proprietary data feeds will pass into history.

"Traders will be able to receive information provided by a wide variety of suppliers, fed directly to their workstation via an Intranet," he said. "Their biggest problem will be finding the best sources in a sea of information."

Cheaper Information

Much to the consternation of proprietary financial-content providers, a great deal of the information Intranets can pull in from the Internet is comparatively inexpensive, or even free.

While not a substitute for the proprietary news streams, the materials traders can have delivered to their desktop from the Internet provide an additional level of information and analytic support. ( attracts subscribers with yearly fees of less than $9 per desktop, depending on the Intranet's size.

The information on the web site isn't as deep as the content carried by the proprietary providers, but is still quite extensive, and includes company news, opinion columns, delayed and historical quotes, Securities and Exchange Commission documents and intraday and historical charts for more than 24,000 stocks, funds and indices.

Alan Maguire, strategic sales manager for, says the upstart service fills a previously empty niche.

"Prior to the arrival of companies like ours, information was primarily the domain of established vendors, like Reuters or Bloomberg, who covered the markets with plain facts, or research houses," he said.

"They have often an axe to grind regarding the markets and companies they comment on," Maguire added. "We bring a fresh, original approach to financial news by delivering an unbiased, insider's view of the industry."

Free Source

A free, Internet-based information source traders can turn to is BusinessVue 2.0 (, a program that pulls together information from multiple sites and sends it to traders through their Intranet-connected desktop.

In its final test stages at press time, the software allows traders to obtain corporate profiles, current and archived news stories, analyst recommendations, SEC filings and delayed and historical stock quotes. The product can also export data to a variety of standard business programs, including Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.