Thomson Reuters: 'Open is the new normal'

Andrew Fletcher of the Data Innovation Lab at Thomson Reuters champions trust as a key quality in business and driver behind making data open, and welcomes “open as the new normal” in the data, technology and communities with which he works

null Delegates at the ODI Summit 2015, where Thomson Reuters presented its machine-readable identifier PermID. Photo: The ODI

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. Our 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”.

This year’s Open Data Institute Summit celebrated Generation Open, “the innovators and entrepreneurs, customers and citizens, students and parents who embrace network thinking”. 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 and the work they are doing to champion open data, which supports our own work in this area.

Why would you make data open?

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.

PermID is a machine-readable identifier which we developed first to manage our own internal databases. Unlike other symbologies, PermID can refer to any data item and does not change over time, meaning it’s particularly well-suited to complex data management. We quickly realised it could also help our customers with their own data management challenges, and that making it available under open licence was the best way to do that.

We presented on PermID at this year’s 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.

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.

Open as the new normal

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 2015 we launched open source market data APIs, and in October 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.

This post first appeared in The Knowledge Effect.

Andrew Fletcher is Senior Manager of Collaborative Projects at the Data Innovation Lab at Thomson Reuters. Follow @aedfletcher and @thomsonreuters on Twitter.

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