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Forward Strides

Working out of a temporary office hasn't kept the New York Board of Trade from improving efficiency
But effective disaster recovery isn't what moves a business forward; that's why the IT team is determined to keep improving services for trading members. After a delay of nearly a year, Feuer has three traders testing wireless devices that have touch screens that mimic the look of paper-order books. He had seven devices at one point until a small office flood destroyed four, something he recounts with a shrug. "We had a little disaster on the disaster-recovery site, a minor setback," he says. Gambaro's ultimate ambitions are to automate the order-entry and routing systems so they'll be able to perform complex order routing, use straight-through processing of trades to the back offices at the clearinghouses, and create real-time audit trails.

Amazing Grace

When the New York Board of Trade returned to work on Sept. 17, 2001, it considered having member Anthony DeMarco, an accomplished violinist, play "Amazing Grace" as a tribute before trading opened. At the last minute, it decided the music would make the emotions just too overwhelming, and opted for silence. On this week's anniversary, DeMarco will play as part of the board's tributes, remembering in particular the four members who died: Dennis Foo, Doug Gardner, Mark Motroni, and Patrick O'Shea. The New York Board of Trade will work on Sept. 11, 2002, but the day will hardly be business as usual. There will be six moments of silence on the normally raucous trading floor. The moments will mark when each of the towers was struck, when the Pentagon was hit, when the hijacked airplane crashed in Pennsylvania, and when each of the two towers collapsed.

Gambaro hopes these goals can be realized in the company's new headquarters in Manhattan alongside the New York Mercantile Exchange, which with its subsidiary, Comex, facilitates futures and options trading related to energy and precious metals. The exchanges will share 25,000 square feet of trading floors and offices, complete with 13-foot ceilings so they can hang display screens that are visible throughout the floor, and high-speed escalators to get traders quickly to and from the pits. The Mercantile Exchange and the Board of Trade have cohabited before--they once shared space in the Board of Trade's World Trade Center location. Back then, they talked about moving into a building together, but those discussions broke down, and the exchange moved a few blocks away to North End Street. This time around, negotiations took on a different tone. "People gave of themselves in an exceptionally cooperative environment," Gambaro says. "This was no time to be foolish, and we all needed to move quickly."

The Board of Trade will use cash from insurance payments and grants from the Empire State Development Corp. to redesign the Mercantile Exchange's trading floor to accommodate additional trading pits and a new layout that will give the two exchanges' members adequate separation. On the technology side, planning is in its infancy. The exchanges expect to share IT services and staff in areas such as infrastructure and telecom systems, though each plans to have its own IT budget for internal initiatives. "We'll consolidate as much as we can without merging," Gambaro says. Each of the three exchange groups--the Board of Trade, the Mercantile Exchange, and Comex--now uses its own trading platform. "Having three separate environments isn't cost-effective," he says. The companies agree standardization is a top priority and that all apps should be Web-enabled. It makes sense for them to collaborate on disaster-recovery and business-continuity strategies.

Board of Trade executives hope the deal will be sealed soon so they can move by early in the second quarter of next year. After a tremendous disaster and spending more than a year in a temporary location, board members and staff are looking forward to coming home to Manhattan.

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It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year since we were attacked. As predicted, life has changed. Please join us in remembering what each of us has lost and gained since Sept 11. Your thoughts will help everyone better understand where we are and where we're headed. Go to our Listening Post to share your experiences, some of which could appear in our pages.