Today I am proud to announce that Ed Haravon and I are launching our new business, Get Real, a partner and advisor to businesses and not for profits to help them imagine how Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) can be leveraged in order to become dramatically more productive and more profitable. We are setting out to change the very way that people do their work: how they train, how they collaborate, how they market, how they visualize data, how they gather, and how they raise money.
I have been thinking about starting this business for several years and am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with Ed again on this new challenge. We have had a lot of success in our 20 plus years together in capital markets and proprietary trading, including growing Spot Trading to be one of the early leaders in using technology to fully transition to off-floor trading in the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s. To some, this new venture may seem like a deviation from our careers in the financial markets. By contrast, I see it as a logical progression, and I want to take a few minutes to outline not only why, but also how we are planning to make a difference for your company or organization.
By way of background, I will start by asserting that trading businesses are effectively technology businesses and have been for decades. While much of the media in the last ten years has focused on the pros and cons of what is commonly referred to as High Frequency Trading (HFT), traders and trading firms have long justified the cost of expensive technologies because of the opportunity for outsized gains that could result. Not all forays into advanced technology work out of course, but many do, and there are significant rewards for those who move and succeed first. Early adopters not only capture trades that their competitors may not be able to even consider, they also are positioned to maintain and extend this advantage over time. Meanwhile, other laggard firms are forced to play catch-up. Depending on how much advantage the technology offers, this willingness to be an early mover can be transformative, creating a competitive moat around a trading firm that results in a war chest of capital from which to drive further innovation.
Of course, resources are limited in any firm, and there is a difference between a leading edge and a bleeding edge. The greatest cost in pursuing a new technology is often not the dollars it requires; rather, it is the opportunity cost of not pursuing a different, similarly new technology that might be easier to learn, easier to integrate, easier to mature, and ultimately more capable of making an impact. The financial markets are particularly well suited for the pursuit of such innovation because of the opportunity for out-sized profits – literally 1000’s of basis points in annualized returns at times. With these table stakes, it can be all too easy to rationalize the pursuit of an endless array of new technologies based purely on traditional Return On Investment (ROI) calculations. Any meaningful possibility of a large upside return will skew the ROI calculation such that it makes every opportunity compelling. And yet, from a management and organizational standpoint, it is not practical to pursue each and every new technological advance, given limited resources to fund, and manage those initiatives effectively.
What’s more, since any given trading industry participant suspects that their peers are well along in their own technological innovation strategies, they are forced to do the same, or at least try. To do otherwise would preclude a firm from having access to the best talent, because candidates will always flock to those doing the most innovative and challenging work at the most successful firms.
Consequently, in order to survive in the trading industry, let alone thrive, one needs to be proficient not just at identifying the most impacting technology trends, but also at being adept at deploying those technologies so that they address real obstacles and create a meaningful competitive edge.
Which bring us to why we are so excited about the opportunity Get Real has to help clients change the way they do business. We predict that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are currently poised to make a massive impact on organizations across many industries over the next many years – just as big data, low latency networks, and AI generated trading algorithms initiated permanent structural changes in the trading business twenty years ago. Our team has over 50 years of experience identifying and evaluating technologies which can not only help solve business problems but also create significant and enduring competitive edge. Hundreds upon hundreds of vendors have pitched us on what presumably are transformational technologies over the years. We have developed both intuition and methodology to filter out the truly transformational from the incidental, and then have considered over and again whether the potential solutions can make the difference necessary to justify the costs of integration and training. Further, we also have experience managing the resulting projects from that initial vision through their implementation, often resulting in exponential gains in efficiency, productivity and profitability.
In my experience, emerging technologies like Virtual Reality have such a rapid rate of change that an organization needs to have a disciplined strategy to capture feedback from users so as to enable quick iterations and deployments. Ultimately, the combination of being an early mover and having a capacity for iterative, agile software development creates significant competitive edge over one’s peers. Once the technology is internally adopted, it still takes meaningful time and effort to develop the discipline and skillsets to capture the feedback necessary for ensuring continuous improvement. We have spent our careers driving software-focused business strategies, specifying the systems that are needed to be successful, and participating in countless feedback sessions like the ones described above. At times, we have led the engineering teams responsible for creating the solutions, while in other instances we have collaborated directly with engineers to optimize how software platforms can best be aligned with core business strategy.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, like any new technology, can be intimidating to get started with. Management teams may be unclear as to their potential and could be fearful of making a mistake that could derail other business initiatives. The rapidly evolving market for VR headsets can be confusing to a company looking to make an initial investment. Issues of compatibility, security, and long-term staying power all need to be considered. There are literally thousands of software solutions for a wide variety of business use cases. Choosing which software is right for your company, determining how you can manage the VR content, and assessing the financial stability of a solutions provider are only some of the evaluations required. Organizations can feel paralyzed by the thought of navigating the VR and AR landscape on their own and with good reason. Your partnering with Get Real brings our experience in deploying and evaluating technology to your team. We started Get Real to give organizations an opportunity to get into Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality and to do so at an early stage, before wide adoption occurs, thereby positioning themselves to establish and maintain competitive edge over their peers not just now, but for years to come. We see ourselves and the Get Real team as a long-term strategic partner, helping you make informed decisions about your VR and AR investments, and ensuring that you continue on a successful path when expanding future adoption.
In the coming weeks you will read more in this blog about the numerous ways your business can use Virtual Reality to gain a competitive edge over your peers. I’m excited about Get Real’s ability to help your business or organization imagine what is possible and then to make it happen.
If you are interested in learning more about how Get Real can help, contact us at email@example.com today.