Why interoperability is critical for employee and customer experience

Mazy Dar 

CEO & Co-Founder, OpenFin

Dive into the future of workplace efficiency with ‘On-The-Glass’ interoperability. Learn how LSEG and OpenFin’s partnership is reshaping financial workflows for a seamless, plug-and-play experience.

  1. Interoperability is universally considered critically important by senior executives, end-users and engineers across the financial industry. 
  2. It is nearly impossible to speak about interoperability in front of an audience without seeing everyone nodding in compliant agreement. 
  3. We want all of our apps to interoperate to drive workflow, to optimise productivity and to reduce operational risk.

By far the best and most successful manifestation of interoperability in human history is the world wide web. Depending on who you ask, the web has anywhere from 5 billion to a trillion pages. Whatever the actual number, it’s growing rapidly in real-time and amazingly (although we don’t even think about it anymore) these pages are all connected and interoperable via hyperlinks, an incredibly simple and powerful paradigm that has fueled the Information age. This simple paradigm, while perfect for web pages, is insufficient for the kind of interoperability needed for workflow orchestration. In a world where end-users increasingly use apps not just pages and where the workflow might include a combination of web apps and native apps, hyperlinks alone aren’t enough.

The new paradigm that has emerged to enable workflow orchestration is “On-The-Glass” interoperability and it is critically important for great employee experience and great customer experience. Let’s explore why and what’s needed to accelerate the journey for financial institutions.

What is On-The-Glass Interoperability?

The simple way to think about the change in paradigm is that instead of pages all “holding hands” with one another (i.e. links), what is needed is apps all “talking” to one another. There are two main kinds of “talking” – one where an app tells others what it is doing (known as “sharing context”) and another where an app instructs another app to do something (known as “initiating or raising an intent”). What does this look like in practice?

Imagine you’re a wealth advisor sitting at your desk in the office or at home. You probably have at least 10-25 important apps you need to do your work. This likely includes a telephony app and one or more chat apps for internal and external communication, a portfolio management app that holds your clients’ portfolio and account information, one or more LSEG market data apps with charts and price history and analysis, a customer relationship management (CRM) system that has information about your clients, including notes and actions from previous meetings, as well as apps for estate planning and the other tools you need to service your high net worth clients.

As you’re sipping your morning coffee reading about the latest hike in interest rates, your client calls and your telephony app shows the incoming call. Simultaneously, the telephony app invokes three apps you will need by raising intents and it tells those apps who the customer is by sharing context. Automatically, your CRM app pops up showing you the recent meetings your team has had with the client, your portfolio management app is showing the client’s portfolio, and your market data apps are showing analysis on the client’s positions. “Good morning Julia! How’s Tyler enjoying high school? I know you spoke with Ashley from my team last week. I’m guessing you’ve seen the news this morning and you’re wondering how it affects your portfolio and new credit line. I’m looking at your portfolio right now and you’re in good shape, but I do have a number of recommendations.” You click the Share button and select “Ashley” from your Microsoft Teams connections to pop-up all the same apps and info on Ashley’s screen so you’re in sync when you ask her to move somethings around.

Simple, simple, simple. The wealth advisor just had a great employee experience not having to dig for all the information, suffering a long awkward pause and being flat-footed. The advisor’s team member is prepped and ready to act quickly – also a great employee experience. The client just had a great customer experience and is down right impressed with the personal attention to detail. “My advisor is really on top of things here and I don’t need to worry.”

“There are many positive outcomes from this interoperability mainly increased productivity for the wealth manager and an increased customer experience because this enables hyper-personalisation at scale” – Sune Mortensen, Head of Wealth Management, LSEG

How does this all work?

Powering On-The-Glass Interoperability is a messaging hub that is right on the end user’s device and screen – that’s why we refer to it as “on the glass”. Each App on the device is securely connected to the client-side messaging hub and is therefore ready to share and listen for Context as well as fire and process Intents. They’re all ready to talk.

This is where another critically important piece of the puzzle comes in. If the Apps are going to talk, what language are they going to speak so they understand one another? A few years ago, OpenFin led an effort with several industry platforms and financial institutions to develop this common language which is called “FDC3” – the Financial Desktop Communication and Collaboration Consortium. FDC3 defines APIs for sharing context and raising intents among other things. This allows app developers to implement the FDC3 standard and know that their app will work with other apps with a plug-and-play approach.

This plug-and-play approach is crucial to collapsing integration costs that might otherwise be prohibitive in a world where apps continue to proliferate. Financial institutions can select the apps they need for each end-user persona and know that those apps will work with one another without the need for direct bi-lateral integrations between every pair of apps. Instead the message bus provides a central hub for creating interoperability across the desktop saving time and money. Best of all, when it comes to vendor apps, the vendors are the ones doing the work to ensure their app meets the FDC3 standard. Mutualized integration costs and everybody wins.

Start with the glass

Great employee and customer experience requires On-The-Glass Interoperability. For financial institutions, that means running their apps on or connecting their apps to platforms that support this paradigm which traditional web browsers (and even newer browsers!) don’t support. This is foundational and should be incorporated into the digital transformation strategy from the beginning.

There is another very important reason to start with the glass – to leverage the full power of each app. The builders or providers of each app are the experts and the best at designing the app to do whatever it does whether that’s telephony, chat, CRM or anything else. Trying to rewrite all of this functionality as one big super app is not only incredibly costly, but also highly likely to deliver app experiences that aren’t as good as the apps written by the experts. Stitching those apps together with On-The-Glass Interoperability allows end-users to use the best apps while ensuring that those apps all work together seamlessly to drive workflow and optimise productivity.

OpenFin and LSEG: The Partnership

London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has selected OpenFin’s technology for its flagship LSEG Workspace platform. The partnership leverages OpenFin’s FDC3-ready interoperability technology to enable on-the-glass, plug-and-play integration with LSEG’s next-generation data and analytics.

“Interoperability is a cornerstone of our strategy and how we enable our customers to deliver the best experiences for their users, leveraging the wealth of content and apps that LSEG has to offer. OpenFin enables this interoperability and their leadership in creating and driving the FDC3 standard is helping accelerate the industry’s digital transformation.” – Dean Berry, Group Head of Trading and Banking Solutions, LSEG.

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