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Eikon App Studio: How we built our B2B app platform

Paul Artiuch

07 Nov 2017

Construction site. Photographer: Mike Blake
Photographer: Mike Blake

Eikon App Studio opens up endless possibilities for financial professionals with apps from third party providers all in one place. What aspects are critical to the success of our powerful B2B app platform?

Over the past few years, we’ve worked tirelessly with our customers and partners to build the Eikon App Studio platform.

We’ve learned a lot along the way, including how to handle the highly complex and demanding workflow needs of financial services professionals.

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B2B app platforms such as Eikon App Studio have some unique dynamics, most notably in the way they require bespoke solutions for an integrated in-product experience and purchasing process.

But there are also plenty of similarities with the platforms that most of us are familiar with in the retail B2C space.

Thomson Reuters Open Platform in action
Open Platform in action

Ultimately, both types are about building vibrant communities of app providers and app users. In both, apps need to be easy to find and easy to access or purchase.

B2B user experience

Here are some of our key takeaways from building Eikon App Studio, starting with three key points on the secrets behind creating a great user experience in B2B:

  1. Easy navigation and discovery

Inside the product, at a minimum, there needs to be:

  • A prominent place for the app library in the overall product’s menu structure.
  • A well organized home page for all “your” apps.
  • A standardized app listing with key information.

We have found this critical for App Studio, and have taken it further by including personalized recommendations integrated into the user’s workflow (not only within the app library itself).

App Studio – easy to discover and navigate within the Eikon platform
App Studio – easy to discover and navigate within the Eikon platform
  1. Flexible purchase process 

Businesses vary in the way they handle purchases from other organizations.

Some, often smaller, companies give users discretion over the purchase process, while others, typically larger companies, have complex vendor onboarding and purchase approval procedures.

The B2B app platform needs to be able to work with both, which may include creating tools for purchasing agents and administrators to see and control their spend.

Often, it’s much simpler for customers to buy directly from an established vendor — such as Thomson Reuters — than go through the onboarding process for a new supplier.

Therefore, the option to buy directly from the platform provider can be a critical factor in the purchase decision.

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  1. Superior product experience

Most financial apps can be purchased standalone, outside of a platform such as Thomson Reuters Eikon. As such, the integrated in-Eikon experience has to be superior in order to attract users.

We achieve this through workflow integration — single sign on into all apps, embedding of multiple apps in a workspace, context passing and access to a single source of data.

B2B users also expect a robust support experience, which includes direct lines to the app providers as well as help from the platform provider, where relevant.

An example Eikon workspace demonstrating the seamless workflow between Thomson Reuters and third-party apps
An example Eikon workspace demonstrating the seamless workflow between Thomson Reuters and third-party apps

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App provider experience

App Studio lets developers easily integrate specialist applications and content to address any work flow needs. Here are three key points to bear in mind:

  1. Streamlined onboarding process

Onboarding a new app onto a platform takes time and resources. Both are often in short supply for companies racing to gain users.

The experience for app providers needs to be streamlined with multiple layers of help and support.

This includes good documentation and access to a community of peers, as well as direct specialist help, when required.

Building strong and supportive partnerships with our app providers is crucial to the App Studio process. Our scale means that we can offer the support needed for this streamlined onboarding.

The Thomson Reuters Developer Community offers a wealth of Developer-centric content to support the onboarding process, including sample code and apps, tutorials, an actively moderated Q&A forum and various events
The Thomson Reuters Developer Community offers a wealth of Developer-centric content to support the onboarding process, including sample code and apps, tutorials, an actively moderated Q&A forum and various events
  1. Flexible selling options

App providers need flexibility to match their business models with their apps’ functionality and intended user base. This includes choices concerning commercial decisions, whether this is per user vs. enterprise or monthly vs. annual contracts.

It also means flexibility around doing their own billing and contracting or having the platform provider do it on their behalf.

  1. Ability to manage and improve their apps

App providers also required tools to administer their apps as well as data to improve their offerings.

This can be integrated in a single portal with detailed user information as well as tools to manage trials and subscriptions. The portal can also give visibility or control over the app’s storefront presence — app listings, disclaimers etc.

B2B app platform flexibility

These insights have allowed us to design and continue to evolve the Eikon App Studio experience for our partners and users.

We have learned one more key lesson — one that sets B2B app platforms apart. That is the importance of a platform provider’s engaged and incentivized frontline organization of sales, account management, and customer trainers.

App Studio Administration page
App Studio Administration page

These functions essentially grease the wheels of the platform by engaging users around new apps that can improve their workflows.

They also provide valuable feedback on the tools and capabilities that are needed from app providers. A global marketing effort in support of partners — whether this is via social media, email campaigns or PR — provides additional visibility to drive traction.

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Our users, financial services professionals, have highly complex and demanding workflows which require tailored solutions.

A platform approach — such as the one taken by Thomson Reuters Eikon — can meet those needs.

But it also has to accommodate the unique requirements of B2B customers. It’s not as simple as buying a game on your phone — B2B app platforms need to offer the flexibility to find, try and buy mission critical tools professionals can rely on.

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