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3 Best Practices for Adding Financial Data to your SAP Jam Dashboard

As a SAP Jam administrator and Sharepoint user, I have seen an interesting trend in the domain of collaboration software and productivity tools: financial market data is taking a larger and larger “screen estate” in collaboration dashboards. This business trend seems to have been noticed by the product team behind SAP Jam. In the latest SAP Jam Admin Guide, a full section was dedicated to creating a custom header that resembles a market data widget (see image below – specifically, the left-hand side of the header).

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Financial Market Data as part of a SAP Jam Header

 

The above example in the admin guide is just one use case and it involves product development on top of a specific external stock market API. In this article, I will try to generalize the learnings and review the common use cases and best practices of integrating financial market data into the end-to-end SAP Jam user experience.

 

Financial Market Data: A “New Resident” in Collaboration Dashboards

In my previous life as a Sharepoint operator, my company (whose stock is traded in the United States) floated the idea of displaying the daily movement of its stock price in the internal Sharepoint sites. I vividly remember multiple occasions where we paused in the middle of a meeting and marveled: “Wow, look at our stock price!”

Fast forward to today in the SAP Jam world, displaying the price of a company’s stock has become much more common, if not ubiquitous in certain business settings. At the same time, a few new use cases have emerged:

  • Displaying the overall market and economic performance (e.g., Dow Jones, GDP growth, etc.) in the internal team site or collaboration dashboard
  • Displaying the aggregated performance of the immediate¬†sector (e.g., technology, healthcare, etc.) the company is in
  • Visualization and charting of long-term stock trends – either as a static image or an interactive plot

In particular, having some form of financial market information in the team business dashboard has become a highly sought-after “feature” in industries where stock compensation is a significant part of an employee’s total compensation or where a company’s financial performance is closely tied to external market conditions (e.g., Oil & Gas, Financial Services, Consumer Packaged Good, etc).

Now that we have covered the business rationales for having financial market information in collaboration and productivity workflows (i.e., the “Why” part), let’s take a deeper look into the best practices for implementing the said functionality in a way that maximizes business impact (i.e., the “How” part).

 

Best Practice #1: Make Sure the External Market Data Source is Clean and Normalized 

Since it is normally the business, product, or engineering team that implements the relevant market data information in the SAP Jam dashboard, it is important to choose an external data source that provides clean & normalized data and truly understands how the market operates.

Take the Apple stock as an example. Apple (AAPL) recently announced a 4-for-1 stock split, effective as of August 31, 2020. A “4-for-1 stock split” basically means that Apple’s nominal stock price will suddenly drop from $400+ per share to $100+ per share on the effective date of the event, but the number of total AAPL shares in the market will quadruple. If an external market data source simply provides the raw AAPL stock price before and after the stock split, you will see an abrupt “collapse” of Apple’s stock price ($400 -> $100), while in reality it’s just another business-as-usual day on the Wall Street and the market cap of Apple remains unchanged. A reliable market data provider, on the other hand, will normalize the stock of Apple based on the split event so that there is no sudden price jump on a historical basis – this stock data provider guide has a good illustration of how raw vs. adjusted price works.

In brief, having a reliable external data source that follows the industry standard will save a lot of cycle times for your product/engineering team when they implement the financial information for the business dashboard.

 

Best Practice #2: Choose the Right Data Format based on your Business Objectives

Market data services offer a variety of data delivery methods – from the classic FTP data sharing to the modern websocket streaming services. Work with your engineering team to make sure the data pipeline is suitable for your specific business use case and technical architecture. Below is a (partial) list of “when to use what” based on my prior experience designing and implementing similar solutions:

  • If you would like to show realtime price movement in your SAP Jam dashboard, a WebSocket-based stock market API can be a good place to start. A WebSocket service will stream the market data to the business application whenever a new data point becomes available.
  • If you would like to display the historical performance (e.g., daily price movement of a specific stock over the past 10 years) on a visualization widget (e.g., interactive charts), a REST API is probably the best bet.
  • If you want the users/visitors of the dashboard to download or export the data, it may be advisable to store the underlying financial data in your company’s database and serve it for on-demand download

There are no cookie cutters – the optimal data pipeline depends on the business logic and tech stack of your org, which brings me to my next point.

 

Best Practice #3: Don’t Design in Silo

Publishing financial market data to collaboration tools such as SAP Jam is an agile and iterative team effort that involves ideation, design, prototyping, user testing, and deployment. Externally, it requires aligning with third-party data providers on the business use case, enterprise ETLs, and support mechanisms. You may want to over-communicate rather than under-communicate when designing the finance-related business dashboard, be it a simple stock price widget, an interactive chart, or a fully featured dashboard of financial market data. As is the case for any user-facing product, your internal & external stakeholders are your best teammates and the most important users.

 

In Summary

In this article, we surveyed the broader market trends where more and more collaboration tools are having some form of financial market information in their business dashboards. We also reviewed three best practices for adding financial data to a front-end experience such as SAP Jam:

  1. Make sure the external market data source is clean and normalized
  2. Choose the right data format based on your business objectives
  3. Don’t design in silo

Did I miss any other aspects of incorporating financial market information into the overall SAP Jam experience? Please let me know in the comment section!

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