The Disrupters: Institutional Investor's Tech 50
Though not neglecting their day-to-day concerns of maximizing efficiency and minimizing costs, the executives who rise to distinction in the Institutional Investor Tech 50 have longer-range ambitions: to gain a competitive edge by catching the next wave of disruptive innovation.
By Jeffrey Kutler
Some of the best things on the web are free, muses
Lance Uggla, CEO of Markit Group. When I look at how
financial markets will use technology to transform their
networks of participants, I think the word free has
to be included.
He is referring to the way Facebook and Google are free
and to the new commercial models they have spawned. The
financial services industry is poised for its own Google-like
revolution, says Uggla, who in ten years has built Markit into
a global force in market information and transaction-processing
services. No. 5 in this years Tech 50, Institutional
Investors annual ranking of financial technology leaders
and innovators, Uggla says he spends 10 to 15 percent of his
time thinking and talking with others about a free
strategy and how disruptive it would be to todays
See the full ranking, with
For last year's Tech 40, click here.
Disruptive is the operative word, and it is a
thread running through the Tech 50. The idea harks back to The
Innovators Dilemma, a 1997 book by Harvard Business
School professor Clayton Christensen that explained how
long-entrenched, industry-leading companies can fail to
anticipate disruptive technologies or seize the
opportunities they present.
Todays financial services disrupters do not so much fear
falling into obsolescence like Christensens 20th-century
case studies such as Digital Equipment Corp., which was
blindsided by the personal computer as they are eager to
make innovative leaps to gain competitive advantages. Taking
the productivity and efficiency afforded by automation as a
given, executives see technology in a more opportunistic light:
as a tool for growth.
Disruption defines why Reto Francioni and Duncan Niederauer,
the respective CEOs of Deutsche Börse and NYSE
Euronext, jointly rank No. 1 on the Tech 50. Their agreement in
February to merge and create the worlds biggest exchange
organization was itself a disruptive, even provocative,
strategic stroke. Now they face the further test of making
their deal pay off in ways that few large-scale mergers do.
It falls to an executive team of seasoned technologists
including, besides Francioni and Niederauer, Deutsche
Börse derivatives chief Andreas Preuss and NYSE president
(and IBM Corp. veteran) Dominique Cerutti not only to
accomplish the essential systems integrations but also to
develop and deploy disruptive, business-transforming,
revenue-enhancing technology services as their company
becomes bigger and more complex.