Architecture

Architecture | Crouching Tiger, Hidden Trading System

I am not sure if this is a trend yet.  But it’s worth noting.  Over the past couple months I have talked with a total of three major energy trading entities that all have one thing in common: Projects to “hide” the ETRM system entirely from their traders.  Traders will not use, see, touch or smell the ETRM system of record.  Rather, they will see in-house developed, deal entry and position reporting that is fed by the ETRM system.

So there you go.  Why?  Well, the rationale is pretty straightforward.  ETRMs can be too noisy for Traders.  The trading systems are too hard to configure.  Too hard to get the information they really want.  It is as it always has been.

I’m going to chalk this up to a generalized “Ux” failure.   Ux is short for User Design and something that has been badly neglected in the ETRM space.  Remember that BlackBerry you used to have?  Or, that one you are suffering with now?  Ok, now think of the Apple iPhone.  The difference?  User Design, of course.  Steve Jobs was fanatical about Ux.   BlackBerry does one thing great….email.  That’s it.  Browse, App Store,App functionality…all garbage.  It is not that BlackBerry does not do these things.  It’s that it does these things with poor Ux.  And we hate them for it.

Some suggestions for Ux.

Never Let the Users Design User Design.  Remember that Simpsons where Homer designed a car called the Homer?  User driven, user design nearly always results in “a Homer,” and I don’t mean a home run.  But the users know exactly what they want, right?  Yes, but put those people with a Ux pro to drive out the requirements.  You will end up with something that is functional and easy to use, rather than functional and a pain in the neck.

Never Let Developers do User Design.  Writing code and designing GUIs is not the same thing.  A good developer will nearly always admit that they hate designing GUIs.  Just don’t let them do it.  Every time I see pop-up window after pop-up window, I know that a developer designed the GUI.

Watch For Developer vs. Ux Conflict. If you use a User Design pro there will inevitably be a conflict between the developer and the User Design Pro.  The User Design Pro should win.  The truth is that Ux Pro’s make the developer’s life harder.  Doing cool things with the GUI takes more development effort and one should expect the developers to push back.

So, what about these efforts to hide the ETRM system?  Well, unless the in-house development efforts really put their mind to Ux, there is a better than average chance that they will end up with a poor re-creation of what they had in the first place.