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Jessica Pallay
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Merrill Gets Real About Managing Data

Merrill Lynch reins in real-time news from thousands of Web sites, with software that organizes, streamlines and customizes the news for 400 desktops in its equity-sales and trading groups.

As information becomes more and more of a commodity, the buzz is no longer about accumulation, but instead, how to manage all of that data. Merrill Lynch recently took a step in the data-management direction with its implementation of a service that not only reins in real-time news from thousands of Web sites, but organizes, streamlines and customizes the news for 400 desktops in its equity-sales and trading groups.

"We had numerous sources for news and research, both internal and external, all coming in through disparate channels," explains Jim Russo, director of Merrill Lynch's Equity E-Commerce, adding that single-stream data sources didn't have the breadth of coverage that users needed to do their jobs competitively.

Russo notes that searching the sundry of sources was costing time that could be spent focusing on more valuable activities. "There is a proliferation of information out there, and we needed a way to distill it and allow greater productivity for our users," he adds.

In addition, Russo was looking for a tool that could incorporate internal Merrill Lynch information, such as research reports and trading-desk commentary.

Russo was introduced to services from the Relegence Corporation, a New York-based real-time news vendor, that fit the bill that he was seeking. Relegence and Merrill have spent the last year working to customize and implement a proprietary version of Relegence's FirstTrackSM and KnowledgeHubSM.

The personalization aspect for each user is a valuable component, Russo says. "It provides the user the ability to set up specific queries, profiles and interest lists, in order to get the information most relevant for that terminal," he explains.

Communication is another advantage of Relegence's data-management system, according to Russo. The system enables users to easily send relevant information to clients and colleagues with no more than a point and click, he says.

There is also a capability for users to add their own perspectives into the data pool in order for other users to view their commentary.

Placing a priority on real-time news gathering and organization has already benefited Merrill, says Russo. "It is extremely fast in terms of news that is captured," he notes. "We've gotten information through the product that has given us a first-mover advantage. It's all information in the news stream, but other news services hadn't picked it up and it ended up making its way to our desktops."

This article originally appeared on Wall Street & Technology Online.

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