Applicability of Spatial Computing for Finance

I get the question frequently, why am I and why my firm is looking at Spatial Computing – what is the applicability of it at a Financial firm. The future of augmented reality (AR) is likely to involve increased integration with other technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and the internet of things (IoT), to create more immersive and interactive experiences. There will also likely be an increase in the use of AR in areas such as education, healthcare, and e-commerce. Additionally, advancements in areas such as machine learning, computer vision, and 5G networks will likely lead to more realistic and responsive AR experiences.

Augmenting a dollar bill using the currently defunct ‘1600’ application

Coming back to the original question, there are several ways that augmented reality (AR) could be used in the finance and banking industry. Some possible applications include:

  • Customer service: Banks and financial institutions could use AR to provide customers with virtual assistance for tasks such as opening accounts, making transactions, or obtaining loan approvals. This could potentially improve the customer experience and reduce the need for in-person visits to branches.
  • Training and education: Financial institutions could use AR to provide employees with interactive and engaging training sessions. This could be particularly useful for training employees on complex financial products or regulations.
  • Risk management: Financial institutions could use AR to visualize and analyze large amounts of data in order to identify potential risks or opportunities. This could potentially help to improve decision making and reduce the impact of financial crises.
  • Investment and wealth management: AR could be used to provide customers with virtual portfolio management and investment advice. This could allow customers to view and analyze their investments in real-time, and make informed decisions about how to allocate their assets.
  • Fraud detection: AR could be used to detect potential fraud by analyzing and visualizing large amounts of data from various sources. This could potentially help to reduce the impact of fraud on financial institutions.
  • Banking apps: Financial institutions could use AR to enhance the functionality of their mobile banking apps. For example, customers could use their smartphones to point their camera at a check to deposit it (this is already available at most banks) or point at a foreign currency to get its real-time conversion rate.
  • ATM’s: Banks could use AR to enhance the customer experience at ATMs. For example, customers could use AR to visualize the location of the nearest ATM, or to receive step-by-step instructions on how to use the machine.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Banks could use AR to create interactive and engaging marketing campaigns. For example, they could use AR to create virtual tours of their branches or to simulate the experience of using a new financial product.
  • Remote assistance: Banks could use AR to provide customers with remote assistance for tasks such as loan application, account opening, and investment advice. For example, customers could use AR to visualize and interact with virtual financial advisors, and to receive real-time feedback on their financial decisions.
  • Cybersecurity: Banks could use AR to train their employees on how to detect and respond to cyber threats. This could be particularly useful for detecting phishing attacks and other forms of social engineering.

Overall, the use of AR in finance and banking could lead to improved efficiency, cost savings, and a better customer experience. However, implementation of AR technology would require investment and collaboration with experts in the field, hence I am working on this with several industry partners and startups.

Promotions

Today at work it was promotion day, the day at which they handle out promotions, which made me think, what does promotion mean, what value it has, what possible drawbacks it might involve.

Promotions in the workplace typically come with a variety of benefits, including increased pay, greater responsibility, and a higher level of authority and decision-making power. Additionally, promotions can lead to a wider range of opportunities for career advancement, such as being able to take on more complex projects, supervising more people, or working on a higher level within the organization. Finally, getting promoted can also bring increased job satisfaction and a sense of personal accomplishment.

Promotions in the workplace also come with a number of potential drawbacks. One of the most common is an increase in workload and responsibilities, which can lead to greater stress and longer hours. Additionally, with more responsibility comes the potential for increased pressure and accountability. Promotions can also lead to changes in work relationships, as you may now be supervising former peers or colleagues, which can be challenging. Some people may find that the increased pay and prestige that come with a promotion don’t outweigh these downsides, and prefer to stay in a role that they find enjoyable and manageable.

Another possible drawback is that you might be moving out of your comfort zone and expertise, for example if you are promoted to a role that requires skills or knowledge you don’t currently have. It can be difficult to adapt to a new role, and you may have to work hard to acquire the necessary skills and experience.

Finally, promotions aren’t always handed out fairly, and you may feel passed over for a promotion you feel you deserve. This can be difficult to deal with, and may lead to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction with your job.

Turning the tables in Ghana

I already wrote about my interest in various philanthropy topics, one of them is being helping out people in Ghana. The easiest way for me to do that is to employ IT resources from there. There can be several reasons why an organization might choose to work with an IT company in Ghana, some of them include:

  • Access to skilled and talented workforce: Ghana has a growing pool of skilled and talented IT professionals, which can provide an organization with access to a high-quality and cost-effective workforce.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Working with an IT company in Ghana may provide cost savings compared to other regions, due to factors such as lower labor and production costs.
  • Location advantage: Ghana is well-connected to the rest of the world, making it a convenient location for an IT company that is looking to operate in a central location in Africa.
  • Government Support: The Ghanaian government has been actively encouraging IT businesses and providing them with the necessary support to help them succeed.
  • Growing IT industry: Ghana’s IT industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, and there are a number of well-established IT companies in Ghana that have a track record of delivering high-quality products and services.
  • Increased Quality of Service: IT companies in Ghana have developed reputation for providing good quality IT services and Solutions that is comparable to developed countries.

As with any business decision, it is important to evaluate the risks and benefits, as well as to conduct thorough research and due diligence on the specific IT company you are considering working with, to ensure that they have the necessary capabilities and resources to meet your needs. When it comes to Accra, the capital of Ghana, it is the home to a growing number of IT companies. These companies provide a wide range of services and solutions, including software development, web design and development, mobile app development, IT consulting, and digital marketing. Some of the well-known IT companies in Accra include:

  • Softtribe: This is a Ghana based IT services provider which specializes in enterprise software development. Softtribe has clients across West Africa region, providing software development services to companies in various sectors such as Manufacturing, retail, banking and telecommunications
  • Zara Studio: Zara Studio is an Accra-based full-service IT agency providing digital solutions, such as web design, digital marketing and software development. The agency have a reputation of delivering high-quality digital solutions to local and international clients.
  • BlueCrest: BlueCrest is one of the largest IT firms in Ghana, providing IT solutions to clients in the banking, telecommunications, and oil and gas industries. The company’s services include software development, IT consulting, and systems integration
  • Black Pepper Technologies: Black Pepper Technologies is a software development and consulting firm that specializes in providing IT solutions to clients in the financial services, telecommunications and e-commerce sectors
  • MEST Ghana: MEST is an organization that helps in building scalable technology companies in Africa. They have an incubator program in Accra and help entrepreneurs grow their startups by providing funding, mentorship, and training to promising software development companies
  • Tech Needs Ghana: This is an IT company that specializes in providing digital solutions such as Website development, Mobile App development, and Digital marketing services to companies in Ghana.

These are some of the IT companies in Accra, it’s worth noting that there are many more IT companies with various sizes, capabilities, and focus areas. So, it is important to research, evaluate the options and conduct due diligence to ensure that the company you choose is the right fit for your IT needs.

I did the right due diligence, and found a company, which is not among the list above: turntabl.io. So why did I choose them among all the other choices?

Beside everything above applies to them (skilled and talented workforce, cost effectiveness, location/timezone advantage, government support, growing industry, good QoS), their ‘secret’ weapon is their CEO, Sam Moorhouse.

Sam Moorhouse, CEO of turntabl.io and James McLeod, Director of Community at FINOS and The Linux Foundation, Founder of London.js, all of us showing off amazing beards πŸ™‚

Sam has a distinguished career – worked at Morgan Stanley and Citi as senior developer, and for 7 years, been training developers at many companies as part of the company Mallon Associates. That latter skill was what made it possible to train up 100+ developers in his Accra based office, with the help of Mallon, and with the help of many employees of large financial institutions, who flew to Ghana and was teaching the batches of developers there, in person.

The resources I have been enjoying from turntabl clearly went far above and beyond of my expectations. When it comes to them working as a group on open source projects of ours (like Arriving to… Crossroads | Dotneteers.net, see https://turntabl.io/crossroads/), or working as team augmentation on various tasks, they did deliver with ease, elegance, and professionalism. This is what you get if you engage with them – which I highly recommend, whether you are looking for new resources or help in open source projects, next to everything else above – you will have the ability to feel like you are giving back too. So, this is how the turn tables πŸ™‚

What can I thank the Technology Analyst Program for?

Since I joined, I have been a huge fan and supporter of the ‘TAP’ program at the firm. It is not something unheard of – new joiners, fresh from their studies, before joining the workforce, do participate in a 14-week program, that gives them both a base in general programming, refreshing their knowledge, but also contains important building blocks related to the various ‘morganizations’ (about this in a later post probably :D) we have, so when you would be on your day 1 in your actual day-to-day role, many of the technologies you would be faced with would be familiar to you. The program is a big success, 100s of young talents are joining through it every year – in 2022, over 400 of them! So big of a success, that many cases lateral hired talents feel left out that they are not getting the same treatment πŸ™‚ Oh, and as an extra benefit, your picture is displayed on the side of the actual Morgan Stanley HQ building on Times Square – and there is a camera feed in case you cannot visit it πŸ™‚

One of the big aspects of it as I mentioned is getting familiar with the company specific technologies. This is helped through 3 different aspects at the same time. As part of the normal, day-to-day curriculum, some special blocks are designated to be about these specialized technologies, like how our messaging bus works or how you can connect to the firmwide directory – these sessions are generally proctored by my team; me included. Shouldn’t come as a surprise, I cover mostly C# and .NET as part of it πŸ™‚ The second way you get more involved in the firm specific technology is through an ‘architecture exercise’. You are given a relatively complex problem, involving many moving parts written in different languages (C++, Java, C#, Python, etc) and techniques (message bus, file shares, etc) that you need to implement and would get scored (oh yes, everything as part of the program gets scored – you get many homework assignments, labs, etc that you need to execute well to be able to graduate).

Lastly, is the part that in some way is the most exciting for me, which is the project work at the end. Out of the 14 weeks, only 10 is spent according to the above – the last 4 is special and spent in smaller, 3-4 person groups, which are tasked with a project that was pre-vetted by the TAP organizing team and was submitted by the developer and business communities (because not just developers are in this program; there are separate tracks for engineers and business analysts too). I am now standing with the most successful projects ever title at the firm – more than 30 projects in the last 12+ years. So, you might ask, what kind of projects would I have? Let me share some summary of the projects of 2022:

  • Had two different projects related to Augmented Reality – one for finding people and locations in the office; another one for finding equipment in a data center
  • Had a project related to Electron, the UI Container, to make our open source project, desktopJS (morganstanley.com), to work with the newer version of Electron
  • Had a project which hopefully would be able to open source one day, which is providing personally identifiable information masking in open telemetry
  • Had a project building a realtime dashboard for server health specifically for applications using one particular application framework
  • Had a project on creating the new conferencing website for the firm, so people can get to this information easier

Looking forward to what 2023 brings related to projects and my involvement in the Technology Analyst Program – in the last 3 years I maintained their internal website too, using the techniques explained at Generating… non-documentation | Dotneteers.net

Accessibility Design Day’22 and ’21

For me, accessibility has been a very important topic for quite a while. Accessibility is an important topic because it allows people with disabilities to have equal access to the same information, products, and services as those without disabilities. This includes access to the internet, transportation, buildings, and other public accommodations. By making sure that websites, documents, and other materials are accessible to people with disabilities, we can help to create a more inclusive society where everyone has the opportunity to participate fully. Accessibility can also benefit people who do not have disabilities, such as those who are elderly, who may have temporary injuries or impairments, or who may be using a device or software that is not fully compatible with a particular website or document.

Therefore, I was very excited and also happy, when in both 2021 and 2022, was asked to participate as an organizer for Morgan Stanley’s Accessibility Design Day. It is being organized as part of the disAbility Awareness Month, together with the Americas Culture of Inclusion Committee, and it is a global all-day event for teams to innovate and to challenge themselves to think in a new way to improve UX and interaction patterns across many types of applications. In 2021, 44, and in 2022, 54 engineers and technologists participated, working in teams of 2-8, collaborating on innovative ideas to make our applications and technologies more accessible to clients and employees with vision, hearing or cognitive impairment. The 10 teams dispersed across the world worked together on the day on a demo ready proof of concept which was presented to an esteemed panel of internal and external judges, who are advocates of the accessibility community. Solutions ranged from enhanced support responses from our chatbots, one- and two-way voice interfaces, captions and transcripts, immersive screen readers, accessible augmented reality solutions and custom data visualizations.

(Yes, I am wearing my http://finos.org hoody :D)

The Morgan Stanley Technology Expo in 2022

Every year (of course, not during the pandemic years), Morgan Stanley does a Technology Expo, with a growing number of presentations, booths and locations. This is an amazing event, with thousands of participants, hundreds of booths, more than a dozen locations, clearly one of a kind. And – 2022 wasn’t in anyway different; and so, the submission period began. I submitted multiple booth proposals, multiple tech talk proposals, etc., and then waited for the results for weeks πŸ™‚

When the results were announced, I got flabbergasted – first learned the number of booths I got: 6 different booths! Topics were: 2 locations to talk about the Metaverse, 1 location to talk about a technology called DOM Projection that we plan to open source in the near future, 1 location to talk about our use of WebView2 (see https://youtu.be/8y3ZCzw3LtA on public details about that), 1 location to talk about our new usage statistics methods, and one location to talk about our use of server side middleware and our original, 10+ year old solution for the service mesh. And I thought that’s it, when the news came out, that there is a 7th, special booth to be taken over too – this one very different, one of the 5 special booths to be visited by the Morgan Stanley board! And the topic – a new way to experience Art, via virtual reality! The firm’s global headquarters, 1585 Broadway was the location for the latter. The large and expansive lobby and cafeteria got converted into the marquee showrooms for the day – a tall and stately white squarely structure set in the heart of the lobby, could be hardly missed. The structure itself was open on all sides, inviting everyone to a showcase of the special selected projects. The projects themselves were a preview into the Morgan Stanley technology story, told through the lens of solutions designed for our firm, our clients, our people and our future. And it was the center of the booth, a Metaverse experience introducing the attendees to a virtual reality tour of our Art collection, that was served by me and the team, that was the great introduction to the New York event and a perfect teaser into the central hub of the technology expo.

But the list of surprises was far from finished. As I was eagerly preparing for all the different booths and topics, it dawned on me that I haven’t yet checked the tech talks – and yes, I got a tech talk too! It took me 2 more days to figure out that I got not one tech talk, rather 3 out of the 15 showed πŸ˜€ Namely:

  • Welcome to the Metaverse! – my talk about explaining the last 6 years’ projects and achievements in the Metaverse space
  • ServiceMesh is the New Thing! Or is it? – my talk explaining how the ServiceMesh concept has been around for over a decade although we never named it as such
  • Where does desktop development go and why should I be interested? – my talk explaining the new concepts of desktop development, why there is still a value in WPF Core, and how does hybrid applications demonstrate the best of both worlds (it’s in the name πŸ˜€ )

Sadly, I cannot really share more than this, the title and the short description of my booths and tech talks for now; and this picture from the company’s LinkedIn page:

We recently hosted our Global Technology Expo in 15 Morgan Stanley locations around the globe. Over ten days, more than 600 technologists exhibited over 300 products and cutting-edge initiatives and solutions to stakeholders throughout the firm, and illustrated the ways we are leveraging technology for good. β€œThe Global Tech Expo is an excellent opportunity to showcase the products we develop in support of our clients and employees,” said Peter Akwaboah, COO Technology and Head of Innovation. β€œThrough showcasing our innovations at the Expo, we can spur conversations across the firm about important topics like the future of work and cybersecurity.”
Myself on the Morgan Stanley LinkedIn page – Morgan Stanley LinkedIn

Morgan Stanley at the Open Source in Finance Forum NY’22

As you saw in the previous post, Open Source in Finance Forum NY’22 | Dotneteers.net, I was at the Open Source Finance Forum, representing the Open Source Readiness and leading the discussion on the Open Source Program Office’s private session. But I wasn’t the only person present at the event from Morgan Stanley – we have had a wide range of presence from our side this time:

My manager, Dov Katz, was part of the opening Keynote:

Open Source in Finance Forum – Opening Remarks – Gabriele Columbro, with Dov Katz & Rob Moffatt

My coworkers, Stephen Goldbaum and Rita Chaturvedi leading multiple discussions at the event:

The Current State of DEI and Path Forward – Jevon Beckles, Chitra Hota, Nick Fuller, Rita Chaturvedi
Exploring Open Reg Tech with the LCR – Stephen Goldbaum
Modernize Regulatory Reporting: Get Ready for T+1 Settlement
Morphir Integration with Scala – Damian Reeves, Stephen Goldbaum

So, I am looking forward to 2023’s OSFF events, hopefully being able to present once again on them with some fun topics πŸ™‚

Open Source in Finance Forum NY’22

After presenting at the 2021 version of the Forum, it was inevitable that I want to be back – it was an energizing experience and wanted to feel it once again! πŸ™‚

So, I submitted a topic (open source standardizing for the metaverse), and waited for the green light – which never came; this was a topic seemingly too early to be discussed on such forums – I am a firm believer in mixed reality and open source, so it is just the question of time to have interest for such πŸ™‚

But I had a way back – for the first time ever, OSFF matured enough that to have next to the multiple tracks with amazing sessions, they added an EXPO!

11 of FINOS’s own projects, the Common Domain Model, the Compliance Horizon Scanning, the DevOps Automation, FDC3, Financial Objects, KDB+, Morphir, Open Source Maturity Model, Symphony Workflow Developer Kit, Timebase and the Open Source Readiness SIG were joined by the sponsor’s booths, resulting in a huge influx of people between the sessions and during the longer breaks to check out what we can show – I took this picture before the first big hit of people arrived, because after that I never had the time to take another πŸ™‚ :

So, how this is relevant to me? Because I happen to be the co-chair the Open Source Readiness SIG, along with the amazing Elspeth Minty of RBC, Care Delia of Red Hat and Brittany Istenes of Fannie Mae, with the huge help of Rob Moffat, Jim St Clair and the energy bomb James McLeod. Even more – as the co-hair, I got to lead the FINOS Banks Only OSPO Roundtable. As the event is run according to Chatham rules, I cannot tell much more details about the roundtable beside the anonymized meeting notes at GitHub.

For the Win – with Weight Loss Advertising?

As I mentioned in the year start post, I’ll avoid doing weight loss advertising. Still, I start the year with a memento for myself on the topic πŸ˜€

So, look at these two pictures – both of them are me, one year apart, at the beginning of the pandemic. I was one of the few who did a weight loss then and there.

So, what’s the situation now? Due to many things that happened between then and now, I managed to sadly gain most of the kilos back πŸ™ But, not further!

With the help of both the Les Mills Facebook group’s motivation, the on-demand app and the new Oculus app, I plan to become the better me, once again πŸ™‚

New year – new schedule!

Ok, this blog recently did not receive much of love – ok, self-honesty, none -, but will try to change this for 2023 at least somewhat up πŸ™‚ As usual, the number of ideas overwhelm the number of minutes. So, what I plan to write about? Weight loss advertising? πŸ˜€ Most probably not. Topics about the metaverse, open source, software, architecture, software architecture, conferences, and more is hoped to show up here from time to time πŸ™‚