Thomson Reuters regrets speed of billion dollar Eikon desktop switchover

Company had thought it could ‘replace entire desktop product on line on day one’

Thomson Reuters has said it made a mistake with the fast launch speed of a billion dollar desktop product for financial traders, called Eikon.

Tom Glocer, chief executive at the company, told Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper: "The launch was overly ambitious the launch plan suggested it was fit to replace the entire desktop product line on day one and it really wasn't."

Eikon is aimed at financial traders working with stocks and shares, and the company began switching over tens of thousands of customers to the new product 14 months ago.

In July, Glocer took personal control of the markets division, responsible for Eikon. He remained in charge for a number of months after the problems worsened.

"I dived in over the summer, ran it myself I'm quite confident that I've got enough of what the issues were, that the plan we're implementing to address it will work," he told the Globe and Mail last week.

Glocer said in the summer that Eikon will be sold as part of an integrated offering and will receive more "robust" development, after questions were raised on the product's quality and whether customers would want to use it.

Thomson Reuters, which runs an SAP backend, was formed out of a major integration of the two companies that make up its name, will now focus its data platform efforts on two systems: Eikon and Elektron.

Eikon was produced with over a billion dollars' of development investment. The platform offers news, trading, search and analytics for brokers and other market participants. Thomson Reuters has migrated more than 32,000 customers' desktops to the Eikon system since it was launched in September 2010.

The platform took two years to build, and is aimed at being a single system to support around two hundred Thomson Reuters financial products. In a demonstration to investors before Eikon was launched, Thomson Reuters said the system would be "easy to support and maintain", running on an "open, flexible platform" with easy customisation.

Journalists at the Financial Times recently wrote in a company analysis that in spite of the investment, Eikon had so far "failed to gain traction" and had "received poor reviews". Issues cited included "poor product integration, cumbersome technology and a fragmented sales effort", they wrote.

Devin Wenig, the head of the markets division who was responsible for bringing in Eikon, unexpectedly quit the company in July with five key members of staff, after reportedly being asked to make faster and more extensive structural changes than planned.

Elektron is a high speed data distribution network aimed at providing real time market information to hedge funds, asset managers, banks and anyone else requiring low latency trades. It will retain a prominent position.

Last week, Thomson Reuters reported a $381 million (£237 million) third-quarter profit for its markets division, up eight percent, though revenues grew only one percent.

"A number of operational and organizational changes were made during the quarter that are intended to drive growth and capture operating efficiencies," said the company in its financial statement, "including reorganising the sales force, flattening the management structure and reprioritising product development".

Photo credit: Aaron Fulkerson

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