In a multi-year engagement, MUS executed extensive business-critical design research, usability testing, and complex human-computer interaction (HCI) design programs resulting in the creation of a new generation of screen-based (fixed and handheld) trading systems that dramatically improved trading performance, reduced training time, and reduced errors. All MUS human factors engineering performance improvements were fully verified by independent usability testing.
At the time MUS was brought onto the project, the trading floor consisted of informal and formal trading rules and procedures optimized strictly for the benefit of floor traders who made massive profits from the system. However, the scale and growth of the market demanded a new technology-based trading system that included the human component as well as a new trade execution system. It was a classic man-machine system design problem with huge economic and political impact.
MUS addressed the problem by developing and prototyping the electronic trading system that utilized the prior learning and training of the traders while taking advantage of electronic trading infrastructure. But the key to the success of the program was understanding that any solution, no matter how good it technically was, was bound to fail unless it was matched with the personal, social psychological and hierarchical nature of the trading floor ecosystem.
Based on HFE research and cognitive modeling, MUS formulated, for the first time, the ability to visualize equity market dynamics in terms of order flow and position balance on a single screen in a rapidly changing market. The solution dramatically reduced the cognitive workload of NYSE Specialists and Brokers while reducing decision errors in active market conditions. The system also made it possible to train individuals to work on the floor as a trader or as specialist in three months, rather than three years. Furthermore, critical trading errors decreased substantially.
These solutions saved the NYSE several billion dollars based on increased order flow, reduction in trading errors, and reduction in training time for key trading positions. Additionally, the MUS solution, combined with changes in equity pricing model, allowed NYSE to forgo construction of a new trading floor and related facility. The GUI solutions developed by MUS in this project are now utilized in trading interfaces on a global basis.
AWARD Charles L. Mauro / MUS received the Outstanding HCI Design Award from the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) for the program.