Tag Archive | economy

Italy and innovation

In the last times I am wondering what is the situation of Italian companies and which is the future of their economy, taking in consideration the steps that are being taken in innovation, research and development from both the government and the companies themselves.

From my point of view they are really awful, I mean, there’s no doubt that we are in an difficult phase for our economy and this bad economic conjuncture effects are lasting for more than expected, but, when I say awful I’m saying that we are navigating in bad waters more than we notice or think.

Of course there are big multinationals that are investing a lot in R&D or online customer relationship or whatever strategy that uses the power of IT [there’s one in particular near where I live (Brembo), that has even created a park for scientific development and it’s going to be huge], but most of the small and mid firms don’t even know the potential of some simple yet cheap instruments that internet offers to them.  For example, few of them has a simple facebook page and updates it regularly, or use a twitter account for interating with their customers, very few industrial companies use a voip client to keep in contact with their supply chain, and even fewer take advantage the virtualization to empower the production line and their control system.

Problem is that those small companies are the real engine of the Italian economy, and if they don’t wake up , they will be literally eaten by the asian competitors.

Besides this, let’s assume that a company has the ideas to implement an “online” strategy, which are the investments of the government for creating a solid infrastructure to sustain those business? None.

The possibilities to have a really high speed connection, like in fiber, are remote or the costs are prohibitive. Italians copper lines are too old and the pairs are always overloaded. There are no economic district where to do some joint venture. We are now (now!) investing in the high speed trains, and there’s still someone that does not understand the importance of them. We are years back.

We keep sustaining old big companies just to not lose our face internationally (it’s too late Italians!), and keep giving subsidies to the banks. Gosh.. If they cannot stand up with their own legs or they don’t  fall within the european requirement, it means that there’s something that doesn’t work!! We have people to the power that only look to their interests, and I’m not biasing saying this.

Even a lot of  young students are blind in front of this disastrous country, and most of them are even contributing to it by wasting their relatives’ money enrolling to university just because they don’t want to go to work.

Maybe, fortunately, not everything is lost, we have some young talented people that are creating some great startups, don’t make them escape abroad.

Programming and stock exchange – HFT

At first I want to do a small introduction on how markets work: once upon a time, operators could make some money through the inefficency of the market just with a telephone, by buying from a market and selling a few minutes later in another market to an higher price and gain from the price difference, this was possible because stock exchanges were not integrated as today with a computerized system, and before differences in prices could adjust from a place to another it would have taken a few minutes.

Nowadays this is not as much possible to take advantage of this inefficency, because prices are the same all over the world, and for example,  if you are looking for a stock price on a screen, it would be the same whether you were in Hong Kong or in New York.

This is possible because of information technology that, as everyone know, is becoming always more important by making the world to become smaller and smaller. Connecting one place to another in just a fraction of a second.

This is the point. Fraction of a second

The prices, as I said, adjust quite instantly all over the world, so that a human could not notice or profit by this small amount of time. Thing is, it is too fast! even if you tap continuously on a button.. and you couldn’t even determine if the price in that blink has raised or decreased.

Here it comes algorithmic trading or robo-trading, and in particular a special class of algorithmic trading which is called “high-frequency trading” (HFT), “in which computers make elaborate decisions to initiate orders based on information that is received electronically, before human traders are capable of processing the information they observe“. Wiki

We are talking of very small amount of time, nanoseconds, that just a machine could use. And if a developer could create an algorithm that is both efficient and fast enough to beat the competition it could become very rich.

Literally, this is a “millions dollars affair”, indeed some societies such as banks, hedge funds and main investors, are already developing their own systems to make million dollars profits a year. A great opportunity of job and profit for both investors and developers, in a branch that will be on the daily agenda of the next (not so far) future.

Algorithm will be the new trading operators.

Antitrust and iAd

It’s not any news that the new advertising system designed by Apple, iAd,  is going to be under the attention of the Federal antitrust commission as reported by the Wall Street Journal. You probably already heard about this.

In my humble opinion there’s no reason why they should fear the entrance of a big company like Apple in the advertising market. It’s ok that they control that everything is done legally and without any secret agreement with Google (as you know the Google’s CEO was in the Apple’s board of directors), but I don’t understand why every time a big company wants to expand its affairs, quite everyone accuse it of antitrust problems.

Prices to enter in the iAd program are the most expensive in its sector (there are also a lot of arguments about this topic). Only big companies with a lot of advertising budget can afford it and that’s the Apple’s target!! they want to do a lot of extra revenues from the iPhone and iPad and they have created the way: iAd. It’s expensive? It doesn’t mind! because they know that surely there’s someone out there that is available to invest a lot of money in it. They know very well their potential and the diffusion power of their devices, and a big firm ready to invest lots of their resources to do some marketing policy knows that as well.

The other smaller companies are cut off from the iAd service, but for the moment they do not concern Apple. If they want to advertise there are many other ways, or they could simply continue to do like they have done until now, like applying to any other advertising service, as the Google/Admob one.  Jobs has been very clear on this point.

So by now there should not be any fear that Apple could  seize the market.