A Guide for IT Professionals

What is EarlyBird?

EarlyBird is the recorded, read-only, professional financial-services tool for Twitter. EarlyBird enables traders and analysts to monitor Twitter feeds and searches while satisfying Compliance and IT Data Security requirements. It prevents outgoing tweets, blocks direct messages, and prevents competitors seeing which accounts your users are following. But EarlyBird is much more than “read-only Twitter”. We uniquely recognise that there are two types of information – the time-critical breaking news that Twitter is famous for, and the rich source of contextual information published by journalists and increasingly by professional analysts. We give the user the power to tame the fast moving Twitter stream with categories, priority accounts, activity heatmaps, popup-alerts, anti-spam filtering and team-sharing facilities. This means the user can have time-critical tweets pop-up on the desktop, while the rich contextual information is categorised, prioritised, and held for review when he is ready.

There are many more features in EarlyBird which we cover in the Guide for Traders and Analysts, and which completely differentiate our service from the integrated offerings in Bloomberg etc. And your colleagues in Compliance will want to understand how EarlyBird demolishes the risks of Twitter access – we detail this in the Guide for Compliance Professionals. But this guide tells you what IT need to do to get it running. As you’ll see, it’s very short!

Cloud Based, No Infrastructure, No firewall Changes.

EarlyBird works by providing a lightweight desktop or browser client which communicates only with our cloud-based service. Our service in turn communicates with Twitter using a commercial filtered Firehose connection. There is no direct communication between the client and Twitter. This means you can keep your existing firewall in place to block direct Twitter access for everybody. So you don’t need to do anything to enable EarlyBird to run, it just uses https to communicate with our Microsoft Azure hosted servers.

There is no server to install or look after. It runs behind any firewall, we even cache images on our server so you can continue to block all three Twitter domains. We’ve yet to find a bank it doesn’t work in. The client is Silverlight based. This is really the only requirement and it is unusual now to find a desktop without it. This means the user can run it in a browser in IE, or with a single click they can install an “out of browser” client which runs in the same security sandbox as the browser-based version. This doesn’t require admin rights but means the user can run it from a desktop shortcut. It provides a much improved user experience without requiring IT to visit the desktop.

A third option is available which overcomes a bug introduced in Silverlight in May 2015 by Microsoft. This is simply a code-signed version of the same Silverlight software, but may require admin rights to install depending on your policies. This provides an improved user experience when clicking on URLs inside Tweets and launching a new browser window. This is an optional installation, but it is recommended for most users. EarlyBird is currently Windows only, anything from XP to Windows 10, but not Macs. However Android and IOS versions are on our development road map. Our background is having built this solution while working in an investment bank, so we fully understand the requirements and pressures of IT departments. EarlyBird has been used on Tradefloors since 2012, with extensive feedback from users and IT. We designed it with you in mind just as much as the traders and compliance groups. We think you’ll love it as much as the users do.

The other way of doing it.

We’re really proud of our architecture. When we built EarlyBirdy we looked at other ways of providing “read-only Twitter”, including man-in-the-middle SSL interception to block outgoing Tweets while allowing incoming. You may be aware of systems that employ this solution. We’re glad we didn’t go that way for two reasons.

1. Man-in-the-middle SSL solutions involve installing fake SSL certificates on the desktop, the very technique that introduced the Superfish vulnerability into Lenovo laptops in early 2015. It also involves changes to your proxy scripts, firewall and perimeter security. We have seen a bank take a year to plan, then throw this type of solution out as being too intrusive and too risky.

2. At the very best, solutions which provide partial blocking just end up giving the user the ability to use the Twitter website, or possibly TweetDeck. But these are not designed for traders and analysts, and our experience is that if you give users this type of solution they will quickly discard it as being of little value. By contrast, EarlyBird is a custom-designed app focused specifically on Financial Services, backed up by our expertise at extracting value from Twitter.

User Management

User management is extremely straightforward, and is carried out through the marketearlybird.com website. Any number of user administrators can be assigned, and they do not contribute to the licence count. To set up a new user, a user administrator logs in, then in a single screen creates a new user, assigns a license and selects a team. The user is then automatically emailed his randomly assigned password and the link to install the software. Forgotten passwords etc are all “self service” functions but can be also resolved by an administrator.

Licensing

Our normal model is per-user-per-year licensing, but for larger organisations we provide an enterprise licence option that brings the cost down dramatically.

Next Steps

With your agreement and that of compliance, we can have a pilot up and running for a handful of your users the same day, without any disruption to your existing firewall or network. Only by seeing EarlyBird’s unique way of managing the Twitter feed can users appreciate how we give them the power to extract value from Twitter and develop a competitive edge over those that have to wait for traditional news feeds to catch up!

Posted on 9/30/2015 12:00:00 AMEarlyBird News