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Big data

What’s powering the Answer Company? The whole data spectrum.

Dr. Andrew Fletcher  Director, Thomson Reuters Labs™ – London

Dr. Andrew Fletcher  Director, Thomson Reuters Labs™ – London

Trust is at the heart of being open

Trust is a core value for Thomson Reuters. We don’t say this just because it sounds good. It’s something that is baked deep into our culture. The Trust Principles were established in 1941 in the midst of the Second World War as an obligation for employees “to act at all times with integrity, independence and freedom from bias.”

We’ve been a member of the Open Data Institute, founded in London by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, since 2014. Although based in the UK, the ODI has a global network, and the recent ODI Summit was attended by Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX), who are our neighbors in the recently established Thomson Reuters Labs – Waterloo Region.

For us at Thomson Reuters, this feels a natural fit. Trust is at the heart of being open, and we really value our partnership with the ODI, the potential to partner with ODX, and the work they are doing to champion open data, which supports our own work in this area. It’s clear that the ODI and ODX are both talking about and working across the whole data spectrum, not just open data. A quote that stuck with me from the ODI Summit was from Sir Tim Berners-Lee:

“To use data powerfully, you need to be empowered by data from across the whole data spectrum. …in the future, any application you use should be running across the whole spectrum.”

Why would you make data open?

For a commercial organization like Thomson Reuters, there is value to be gained in opening up our data where it makes sense for our customers and for our business model. The open data community, and Generation Open, expect us to do the right thing, but they expect this to be authentic, and respect us for it as a result.

Why would a company like Thomson Reuters make its data open? It all comes back to building trust. It makes sense for our customers and it also provides value back to the open community that they can re-use, including commercially. It also drives opportunities, for example our partnership with Crowdnetic to increase transparency in the crowdfunding market. Our first start-up partnership in Waterloo Region is on open data, with ThinkData Works.

For background:

  • At the 2014 ODI Summit we launched a joint paper with the ODI: Creating Value with Identifiers in an Open Data World
  • We went on to launch, a web portal providing access to Thomson Reuters Permanent Identifier (PermID), metadata and tools available under an open licence and under an ODI open data certificate.
  • We presented on PermID at the 2015 ODI Summit, with Bob Bailey giving an overview of open data at Thomson Reuters, and Dan Smith talking about creating PermID and the Thomson Reuters knowledge graph.
2015 Open Data Institute Summit Presentation
The 2015 Open Data Institute Summit presentation attendees.*

Answers from open data

Open data is part of a broader approach to being open at Thomson Reuters. Generation Open already expects an open approach that carries through into how they work: data, technology, and community. In June we launched open source market data APIs, and last month we launched App Studio in Eikon, which allows third parties to build their own apps within our Eikon desktop platform. Our instant messaging tool for the financial markets, Eikon Messenger, has always been open, connecting to other messaging platforms and so providing the financial community with the most efficient way of building the contacts they need to do business.

Given the focus on trust we place at the core of our business, we believe that an open approach is what you’d expect from Thomson Reuters. It’s one that will be universally expected, needed, and the new normal in the future. As The Answer Company, we already know that data on its own is not enough. The ODI has published work on Data as Infrastructure and I like this quote by CEO Gavin Starks: “Data helps us navigate to a decision.” The Answer Company, working through an open approach with our partners, is powered across the whole data spectrum.

Hanging banners at the 2015 ODI Summit.
Hanging banners at the 2015 ODI Summit.*
 *Images courtesy of The Open Data Institute

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Visit Innovation @ to learn more about how we are pairing technology with human expertise and how you can get involved.
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