About 2 years ago, my interests in finance was fated with the discovery of a stock investment game on facebook, now called The Investing IQ App.
The premise of the game is simple: users were given $10 million in play money.
Now, with this virtual play money, go and invest it!
The site’s goal was to create a virtual environment that was as real as possible. That way, the application would be able to provide amateur investors as realistic an environment as possible.
Virtual traders/investors often faced the inability to execute stock trades. The support and community wall received numerous angry complaints. Users understood the root cause of the problem, but did not understand the technical requirements for fixing the problem.
They just wanted the problem fixed.
When did you, as the technical consultant or manager, last remember facing the scenario of angry demanding customer? Was the solution dependent on a vendor or a third-party, provider? More often than not, technical staff work on the underlying problem without adequately explaining to customers the challenges involved in fixing a complex problem.
Further to this problem was that the categorization of stocks publicly traded on exchanges was not correct. This categorization problem added another level of challenge for staff in scoring the “investing IQ” of virtual investors.
For the Investing IQ App (run by www.kaching.com), the problem was its data provider, Xignite. According to an interview with Pascal-Louis Perez, the CTO, of the startup, “Trading was interrupted twice. If we’re unable to get real-time prices, then we’re unable to allow our users to trade.”
In the interview at CIO.com, Xignite was bumping into capacity issues (CIO.com is owned by IDG, which owns Computer World Canada – that is not even 6 degrees of separation). Whereas page view data requests were once in the millions, by last year the page view requests 50-100 million per month, per customer.
Xignite switched to Amazon’s EC2 and S3 services. Amazon manages the bandwidth, storage, and processing requirements, and the needs as required by the customers are scalable.
I do not have the information on how this change affected kaChing.com before its October 2009 launch (to allow qualified – now as Registered Investment Advisors – to manage real money, who are now). Xignite’s change did raise a stir for kaChing’s CIO.
By moving data to the cloud, the information needed to be synchronized. Synchronization issues were a concern. Still, kaChing did launch successfully. The Investing IQ App is still running with occasional virtual trading bugs.
On the support wall, users are being told that the application (and presumably kaChing.com) is switching data providers. Why is there limitations to cloud computing offerings?
I am going to ask for details from kaChing on determining who the new provider will be, what technical work is required to switch, and whether the switch will be successful. As an virtual end-user in their application, the latter question may be answered by my experience there.
Additional note: readers who want to invest with investment managers may visit www.kaChing.com. The offering is available only in the United States and has $7.3M assets under management.