TSX opens virtual window to financial world

The Toronto Stock Exchange is working out the final kinks in an interactive display system that could change the way business and financial information is reported across the country.

An executive said the TSX recently completed

an implementation of a 22-foot high “”media wall”” using 14 70-inch monitors, which is part of a financial display system supplied by Omnivex Corp. The wall will be the centrepiece of the exchange’s Broadcast & Conference Centre, the TSX’s public face that is regularly shown on nightly TV newscasts.

Like the large display systems in other major exchanges around the world, the media wall will format market data from services like Reuters and Bloomberg, but it will also offer a customizable graphical user interface to present data by journalists from different media outlets. Next month, the TSX will also introduce a service whereby Omnivex software will be used to create templates that will allow the wall to display yearly financial results and a ticker with a company’s name on the occasion of a company’s annual general meeting.

“”It’s not just formatting data — it allows us to create formats for our companies,”” said Patricia Dent, vice-president of operations with the TSX Broadcasting & Conference Centre. “”It augments the presentation capabilities of our companies.””

The Broadcast & Conference centre is the latest example of the TSX’s quest to shed its image as an enterprise plagued with IT troubles. In the late 1990s the firm experienced several high-profile system crashes that created negative publicity, but in April the exchange celebrated two failure-free years following a system overhaul. It has also formed a division called TSX Technologies that seeks to assist other problem-ridden exchanges.

Doug Bannister, director of software development and CEO of Omnivex, said the media wall required the company to customize its software much differently than it has for similar exchanges, particularly in order to aggregate distinct content and provide changeable graphic backdrops for financial reporters.

“”The weather guy uses this a lot — he hits the button and then boom, it goes to the next slide,”” he said. “”They wanted to do that same kind of effect, but with real-time market data.””

Since the Omnivex installation was completed in June, Dent said she’s gotten good feedback, and her team has nearly completed fixing any bugs.

“”When you have an environment that has multiple stakeholders, if you will, there are always reconciliations to make — How does this work? If you do this, what is affected? — that sort of thing,”” she said. “”We’re pretty well out of that. There’s very few things that prevent unknowns at this point, and we’re pretty confident about the environment.””

Although some Omnivex customers, like the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, have more screens, no one has achieved the kind of real-time data manipulation the TSX is introducing in its Broadcast & Conference Centre, Bannister said.

“”That NASDAQ wall only shows the stock and the price,”” he said. “”There’s no interactivity. There’s no inter-day charting. There’ s a lot of stuff that the TSX has — all the tickers, all the LED products — that the NASDAQ doesn’t have.””

Although she met with various media outlets to better understand their needs before the project, Dent said there will likely be further enhancements as the centre gets used.

“”When you’re dealing with a new thing, people find out how they want to use it,”” she said. “”They needed to expand things — they wanted different data, they were looking at it on television and wanted to know more about the formatting.””

Although the Omnivex system uses a number of PCs and servers, the system will be centrally administrated, Dent said. Omnivex has also created a virtual private network link to the TSX to handle any support or recovery issues, Bannister added.

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