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The Future – All Things Disruptive

When you hear disruptive, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Suppose you were deemed to be a disruptive child at school and dealt with according to the well laid out school policy. It certainly may not bring back warm fuzzy feelings to you. I have heard and read of such cases. 

How about taking a train to work and suddenly through the tannoy you hear, ” I am sorry to announce the 7:16 a.m train to London has been cancelled.” 

You are going on holiday, and you read of significant disruptions to the flights due to the air traffic controller strike in France. 

There is a pattern here, but it is negative. Notice how everything is going in a certain way, and everyone has accepted it is the way and the only way. Then bang! Something interferes and changes our plans, and we have to adapt

It reminds me of ants they if you observe them going in a straight line and an obstacle is put in-between they go around. In other words, they adapt. Too many of this and it becomes chaotic.

In this decade, we have seen a different type of disruption. How it is perceived depends on what side you are on.

If you are a taxi driver who has been making his money for years charging what you feel like using your ticketing machine and taking long routes to set the maximum fee from your client then, Uber and Lyft are bad news. On the other hand, if you are the client who has been on the receiving side of this form of exorbitant fees, then you are elated. 

Looking at the word disruptive in google ngrams viewer, we see that before the year 2000, there was a strong focus on controlling disruptive behaviour in the classroom.  

Then we start seeing disruptive feature differently from 2009. A technical analyst looking at the chart will say there was a break out from 2019, and the trend is in place.

This break out was as a result of significant progress in the technology sector. Whichever way you look at it. We now have everything appended with tech. FinTech, EdTech, SupTech, RegTech, BigTech, AutoTech, FoodTech, HomeTech,GovTech, to name a very few.

To crown this decade and to cement the need for technology, Covid19 came. Tech no longer became optional but is now the most crucial thing allowing businesses to function. 

The era of going to university and retiring 50 years later is gone, disrupted. We now need to adapt. Schooling is no longer the same. The youths are questioning why they have to spend 4 years doing a degree only to come out, and there is no job. 

So what will education look like in the future? Look out for my write up on this. 

We now need to look into the future and see if our roles will be relevant and adapt. During the Covid19 pandemic, we saw what the essential skills were. This is country-specific. 

Either way, the disruption is here to stay. The question is, what side are you?

The Year is 2040 – Refactoring Legacy Systems

When building it is worth sparing a thought for those who will maintain the system and how the system will evolve seamlessly in the future.

If you work with technology, front or back end, you may have come across some systems that have evolved to become monsters in the company. In some case, when asked to modify some functionality, the developers break out in a sweat because they know they are going somewhere and do not know when, if at all, they will return.

There was a time when it was fashionable to create codes and put the business logic in triggers in the database (Cringe!)—the computer dark ages. Then we had several generations after, where more code was built upon this not so great foundation.

Fast-forward years later, you are asked to make some changes, and you attempt to make one change and discover that the effect ripples across many “hidden” entities which in turn affect the business processes.

So are we out of the woods? Well, a better question to ask is, do those legacy systems still exist? Unfortunately, they still exist, and the concept of “if it isn’t broken why fix it” is still alive and kicking.

To be clear, I speak of monolithic systems. I won’t name names, but they are everywhere, and these systems are used every day to develop even more monolithic systems.

These systems are hard to refracture or migrate, and the mere thoughts of analysing these send shivers down the developer’s spine.
It is not only the refactoring that is the problem; it is the fact that these products do not scale.

I know some companies have made an effort to say their monoliths are scalable and use all the buzz words, but the fact is, these products do not scale. Under the hood, they are mere monoliths.

Fast forward to the year 2040, the world is different; people rarely talk to each other. Everyone walks about virtually. You are sitting in your living room, and you think ah, I have run out of milk I will go to the shop. Instead of turning on your device and loading an application, you get into your virtual car and go to your virtual supermarket. You walk into the supermarket and see others there, the shops are all stacked nicely, and you pick a basket and pick put things in your basket and pay.

How is this possible? Well, you have a chip that uniquely identifies you. When you put your clothes on, it knows what clothes you have on because this is also tagged. When you go into the shop virtually, you appear as you because you are all chipped up and wired to a giant computer. Your chip is also linked to your bank, tax and all the internet of things.

Next, you hear the doorbell ring, a drone drops your delivery, yes the chip knows where you live so you do not even need to enter your address. Your little robot picks your delivery and unpacks.

So who are the developers? Are they humans or robots? What are the developers in 2040 thinking of what we are doing now? Code today is the legacy code of the future.

Crude Oil May Futures Negative!!

I have never seen this before wow!! This is historical! What does this mean? Producers paying buyers to take delivery.

Well the physical price never got to the negative value.

Historical contango!

Worth taking a picture of this close -13.37 and low of –40.32!

Source: https://www.cmegroup.com/trading/energy/crude-oil/light-sweet-crude.html

Big data – Online shopping technology


Yes, computer technology we cannot seem to do without it. Recent years have seen a massive increase in online activities including but not limited to, banking, insurance, bill management and payments, shopping, trading, news, music, electronic books, social media, online gaming, online film sites and many more. 

The recent surge in people staying at home showed pressure in some unexpected and some familiar places. Some governments were asking Netflix and companies alike to reduce the bandwidth usage to reduce the stress on the broadband services. I will save the broadband discussion for another day.

Ocado – A case study

Let us look at Ocado if you read the about page, and it states they are the world’s largest dedicated online supermarket and it has a quarter of a million(250,000) active customers (of which I am one) and 15% share of the UK online market.

So what happened then? Why are we getting the above page? Well, for one, when companies say they are online, it does not mean they are in the cloud. They could have their server room somewhere in their head office, and this clearly cannot scale as quickly as possible. Or they may be in the cloud but have implemented a monolithic application.

I am sure that we do not have 108,668 people queuing where I live. This number as you can see is half way. We started off with over 250,000.

So they introduce the online queuing system. The queuing system could also do with an update if you insist on using one. Take a ticket and leave your mobile phone number when there are three people ahead of you get a text to let you know you are almost next in line ( yes it can be a paid service). Let us not dwell on this; there are more pressing IT strategy issues as well as architectural issues.

IT & Data Strategy

Why are IT and data strategy essential in the cloud age? A company that wishes to grow and scale quickly must have a mandate which comes from the board of the company. Failing this all efforts from IT will be futile. For an online business, a cloud strategy is a must if you want to grow your business.

What is in the cloud?

Cloud service providers offer a wide range of services that allow your digital business assets to be secure and scale seamlessly. 

A lot of companies are afraid of putting their data in the cloud due mainly to security fears. I will touch briefly on some available services.

Security 

  • Cloud providers offer protection for protecting data, protecting application and protecting your infrastructure. 

 CDN 

  • Webpages can be cached at a location closest to you, allowing for low latency.

IAM 

  • Identity management allows you to create users, groups, roles and policies.

Durability 

  • Guarantees no loss of data so data will be there when you need it.

Availability 

  • Speed of access. Customers get fast and reliable access

Scalability 

  • Allows an application to meet demand seamlessly when required. In other words, to the end-user nothing changes.  
  • Resources automatically get added as volume increases. 
  • As the volume decreases, the resources are released.

Networking and elasticity in the cloud

In the example case, Ocado, auto-scaling and load balancing seems to be an issue.

Conclusion

How will I implement the Ocado online platform differently?

  1. Move it to the cloud if it is not already there. e.g. Amazon Web Service (AWS ), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure.
  2. Use implement a scaling strategy this will allow your site to autoscale
  3. Partition the online service by location. Each user should be able to request a service base on their location. The calendar is not a global calendar so I am not sure what went wrong here.

It is pointless for a customer to wait on a queue for 6hrs and lose their place because it is their turn on the queue at 4 am and well it is sleep time. 

One thing is for sure it seems the whole country is in one queue.

VIX Index

The index measures the market’s expectation of future volatility. Based on options of the S&P 500® Index, the CBOE VIX index is widely used in the U.S to gauge the market volatility.

So why do you need this in your portfolio, and why is it different from volatility?

As discussed in my previous post, volatility is ex-ante. On the other hand, the Vix index uses options of the S&P 500® Index to calculate the market’s expectation of future volatility. The Vix index is a leading indicator.

Click on the image below to view the interactive dashboard.

Data source : CBOE

Volatility

The price of a security does not go up in a straight light. You may feel like you are on a rollercoaster. All your emotions are running wild the stock you bought is heading a different path to your expected path. Ah! this is the volatility I write about.

The prices swing up one day then down two days. Then you all reasoning is thrown out the window and you decide to close the positions that are causing you stress.

What is the measure volatility?

It is the standard deviation of the log returns on your portfolio, a stock price, an index or any financial instrument.

This is quite useful to understand the behavior and risk of an instrument. With this, you can calculate the expected return of a stock or portfolio.

Calculating volatility

View the code below to see sample calculations of a portfolio calculation in python. I have used data from yahoo finance. Please download the data if you wish to follow.

https://colab.research.google.com/drive/165INmtcDy6SBUH0QU2wHnF9WRq9OGFHN

Future writings

Next we will look at the VIX index and explain why it is a more important and accurate measure of volatility.

Also In future posts we will see how we can incorporate these measures into our AI algorithm.

Disclaimer

THE ARTICLES WRITTEN ON THIS SITE DOES NOT GIVE INVESTMENT ADVICE AND ANY OPINIONS EXPRESSED OR DISCUSSIONS THAT TAKE PLACE HERE CANNOT BE DEEMED TO BE INVESTMENT ADVICE.

Risk

You have some spare money and are excited! You want to make this money work for you but you hear all the talk of a bubble coming soon you are worried. What will happen if you invest the spare cash? Will you make some money or will you lose it! This is uncertainty, this is a risk.

Risk is uncertainty. Uncertain your portfolio will return a profit. Risk is a very important topic in the financial markets and in the business world at large. Some risks are listed here.

  • Country risk
  • Systemic risk
  • Foreign exchange risk
  • Sector risk
  • Idiosyncratic risk
  • Political risk
  • Market risk
  • Credit risk
  • Liquidity risk
  • Company risk
  • Contagion
  • and many more…

When building your portfolio you need to be aware of the risks that affect the assets in your portfolio.

When managing a portfolio the quantifiable risk, volatility is the standard deviation of the portfolio return.

When analysing stock you have to remember that this is a time series. What this means is that you can carry out analysis on different time windows.

For example, Analysis of the daily return for one year, analysis of monthly return of one year or yearly return over 5 years.

How do we measure risk one way to measure risk is by using volatility.

Portfolio Analysis – Sharpe Ratio

To understand what a portfolio is please read my article here.

What is Sharpe ratio? It is a measure that adjust returns for risk. It enables you in a quantitative way to chose between two or more stocks.

Why and when will you need to use it? The simple answer to this is, if you are building a portfolio and are looking at instruments which seem to have the same performance, for example they rise 2% each month. You only have money to select three out of twenty such stocks what do you do?

Well one of the measures you can use is the Sharpe ratio developed by William Sharpe. This takes into account the volatility and risk free interest.

Historically, risk-free rate used for the calculation, were for example LIBOR and 3 month T-bill (90days). In more recent years this is set to 0%.

The Sharpe ratio can be viewed as return vs risk ratio i.e. how much risk was taken to obtain the return.

  • A high Sharpe ratio with a high portfolio return shows return to risk ratio was low
  • A Low Sharpe ratio with a high portfolio return shows return to risk ration was high. So a lot of risk was taken.

Portfolio

Construction

In the financial sector an investment portfolio is a collection or basket of weighted set of assets. The holder has a finite amount of cash and wishes to optimise the profit of this portfolio.

How do you create a portfolio?

  1. Have money to invest in something
  2. A broker that can execute on your behalf this can be an online broker or one where you need to call to place orders
  3. Open an account
  4. Analyse and allocate percentage of your money to the shares you want to buy

Yahoo is a very good tool for building dummy portfolios. This does not send your trades to the broker. Below is a dummy portfolio to illustrate a portfolio construction.

How you select the stocks to put into your portfolio is a whole new discussion.

Suppose I had $14,000 in 2019, I decided to buy some stock. Having done some analysis I allocate a proportion of my capital to purchasing the stocks. Below is my percentage allocation and the date of purchase.

Dummy portfolio
Starting Capital$14,000
StockTrade DatePurchase PriceQuantityCommissionTotal Cost/sharePortfolio %
TTD20190201197.4251493637%
MDB2019020198.351211181.29%
AYX2019020176.31101764.16%
AAPL20190204170.411011705.113%
PSMT2019020164.66101647.65%
STNE2019020130.41101305.12%
PDD2019020129.94201599.84%
TSLA20190201319.88511600.412%
GS20190201196.751984.57%
IBM20190201138.1351691.655%
13415.45100%

As of today this dummy portfolio will be worth just over $22,000 a rise year on year of 65%.

Note: For the purpose of this exercise all the stocks are in the US stock market and are denominated in dollars. There are no other asset type.

Disclaimer

THE ARTICLES WRITTEN ON THIS SITE DOES NOT GIVE INVESTMENT ADVICE AND ANY OPINIONS EXPRESSED OR DISCUSSIONS THAT TAKE PLACE HERE CANNOT BE DEEMED TO BE INVESTMENT ADVICE.

Technology – Weather meets scheduling

To all those out there who view technological advancements as a hype. Let me introduce you to storm ciara. Ciara is the storm that battered the UK today. See article

To all those out there who view technological advancements as a hype. Let me introduce you to storm Ciara. Ciara is the storm that battered the UK today. See article

The effect was cancellations and more cancellations of trains, outdoor events, flights, etc.

Flight cancellations today at Heathrow T5.

I was set to take a flight at 14:30 (UK) today. Yesterday, yes yesterday, at 11 am or thereabout, I got a notification from BA saying my flight had been canceled. I had options to rebook which I did.

Now yesterday was sunny and dry and lovely. How wonderful that they were able to predict the exact time range the storm will hit the island and based on this reschedule/cancel affected flights.

A brief look into weather forecasting. Several models are used for weather forecasting with the aid of a supercomputer. Read a brief history here

Without meaningful insight into their operations, I can only assume that there was no army of schedulers rescheduling the flights and sending out emails. Perhaps someone to glance over but not entirely manual.

The display board immediately displays the cancellation message for the respective flights. Have you ever wondered what technology sits behind these? There are many out there. One of the technology in the ecosystem could be any message streaming application like Apache Kafka. What process exists to generate emails to all booked passengers in canceled flights? RPython, SQL batch job, Java? What email server is used to send out bulk emails to notify passengers? Outlook?

Technology is everywhere these days you might be forgiven for taking it all for granted.

So when next you are going about your daily routine see how technology is improving your quality of life.

Further reading:

To all those out there who view technological advancements as a hype. Let me introduce you to storm ciara. Ciara is the storm that battered the UK today. See article

The effect was cancellations and more cancellations of trains, outdoor events, flights etc.

Flight cancellations today at Heathrow T5.

I was set to take a flight at 14:30 (UK) today. Yesterday, yes yesterday, at 11am or there about, I got a notification from BA saying my flight had been cancelled. I had options to rebook which I did.

Now yesterday was sunny and dry and lovely. How wonderful that they were able to predict the exact time range the storm will hit the island and based on this reschedule/cancel affected flights.

A brief look into weather forecasting. Several models are used for weather forecasting with the aid of a super computer. Read a brief history here

Without meaningful insight into their operations, I can only assume that there was no army of schedulers rescheduling the flights and sending out emails. Perhaps someone to glance over but not entirely manual.

The display board immediately displays the cancellation message for the respective flights. Have you ever wondered what technology sits behind these? There are many out there. One of the technology in the ecosystem could be any message streaming application like Apache Kafka. What process exists to generate email to all booked passengers in cancelled flights? R, python, SQL batch job, Java? What email server is used to send out bulk email to notify passengers? Outlook?

Technology is every where these days you might be forgiven for taken it all for granted.

So when next you are going about your daily routine see how technology is improving your quality of life.

Further reading: