Bloomberg Needs to be Less Swiss Army Knife and More Leatherman
Financial markets bring out people’s innate desire to be a hunter-gather for information. As people engage on their never-ending journey for “truth”, Bloomberg has produced the equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife – an all-in-one information, data, and analytic tool. Just like the actual Swiss Army Knife, Bloomberg has produced a litany of tools – each not the most powerful/useful but together form a useful tool. And just like a Swiss Army Knife – everyone has one, but few actually use all if any of the tools (and its becoming more obsolete by the day with Sites such as Stocktwits and Chart.ly.
Yesterday, I read a piece in the FT detailing how Bloomberg is investing in a strategy that embraces this concept.
Bloomberg’s New York offices, in which digital displays above brightly coloured fish tanks update visitors on the weather in Reykjavik, are famous for the free food that persuades staff to spend as little time as possible away from their desks.
The same urge to keep people within the Bloomberg environment is driving an investment in its news operations, just as many struggling publishers and broadcasters are questioning the value of news suppliers in the digital age.
“We want people to be able to use the Bloomberg terminal for everything,” says Peter Grauer, the group’s chairman. Rather than watch customers stray from its distinctive black screens, it has begun an aggressive aggregation strategy with the aim that all relevant news should appear on the terminal itself.
After two years of buying content from partners ranging from Agence France-Presse to Xinhua News Agency, Bloomberg will soon announce it has added Associated Press, bringing in breaking news from a leading international newswire and, equally importantly, a searchable archive to add historical context.
News is as central to Bloomberg’s success as its data, analytics or customer service, Mr Grauer says.
I think they are making a mistake.
A few years back I got a gift from my Uncle called The Leatherman. This tool was similar to a Swiss Army Knife except that it lacked the “stupid” tools (scissors, bottle opener, etc.), and the tools it had were much more useful. There are also many different “versions” of Leathermen with their own unique set of tools and all much better than a Swiss Army Knife. At a time when Bloomberg is no doubt about to be assualted on all fronts, I believe adopting the “Leatherman” Strategy would be a better strategy than just adding more tools to the Swiss Army Knife it already is. The two things that Bloomberg has always done well are News and Data.
- Continuing its EXCELLENT financial journalism that puts any competitor to shame and including this into its core package. Bloomberg is one of the few media outlets where “News” is till its core business and it does “News” well. Don’t simply invest in bringing in outside versions of news, but continue to raise the bar on what financial journalism should be.
- Scrap Analytics all together and simply feature a data repository that has varying levels of access along with an Open Archicture that allows companies to build analytical tools to use that data.
- Embrace the Salesforce Model that has varying levels/distributions of SaaS and an AppExchange that allows developers to develop Apps that work within the Bloomberg Architecture and customize their version of Bloomberg.
Anyways, I have always been a big Bloomberg fan and hope that in trying to keep their absurd price tag, they don’t dilute some of the great tools that they already have.