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Alternative data vendor of the year – IHS Markit

Risk Market Technology Awards 2020 IHS Markit
Adam Kansler, IHS Markit
Adam Kansler, IHS Markit

IHS Markit produces more than 2,500 datasets, and research and information products covering all major industries. This includes automotive, chemicals, energy, capital markets, maritime and trade, agriculture, technology, and healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Most of this data can be considered ‘alternative’ for equity investors.

Examples of non-financial alternative datasets include automobile registration data for 50 US states and a number of countries globally, bills of lading covering all US ports – including more than 20 million documents per year, live ship tracking of 200,000 vessels updated by the minute and mobile phone carrier performance data from 860,000 mobile phone masts.

Alternative data can be sourced from IHS Markit in various formats to suit the requirements of users. Raw data is available as feeds or files, structured or unstructured. Tagged and structured data facilitates analysis and input into trading models. Prepackaged analytics – called Research Signals – uses multiple alternative datasets and is supported by published research and extensive backtesting. Signals include short-sentiment and short-squeeze data, social media sentiment, credit risk signals, patent filings and related data, cyber security risk, and environmental, social and governance factors. The company recently launched Automotive Signals, based on company-specific datapoints on sales, production and market share, covering more than 30 automotive manufacturers worldwide over 10 years. 

IHS Markit employs nearly 14,000 people – most of whom are involved with creating data or analysis, managing data, or creating tools for interpreting or managing data. It is one of the world’s largest private sector employers of economists, and offers consulting and an array of economic data products that can be used alongside alternative data in the investment process. Proprietary economic metrics include data and forecasting for GDP and small business employment, and indexes for purchasing managers, housing prices, engineering and construction costs, and commodities prices.

To make it easy for internal teams and clients to access its many datasets, IHS Markit is developing a data lake – a cloud-based platform for storing, indexing and distributing structured and semi-structured time-series data – and unstructured data, for users and applications in a cost-effective and efficient way. A data lake catalogue lists the datasets and provides the ability to download small-scale files and sample data before requesting access. The catalogue application also offers users the ability to create an inventory of all of their own data, including structured, unstructured and semi-structured. A data dictionary will provide business and technical definitions and time-series capability to support advanced analytics.  


Judges said:

IHS Markit is clearly the 800‑pound gorilla for the collection of and dissemination of data.”

“The company is responding to its clients’ needs in providing comprehensive data. It continues to innovate.” 

“A broad and deep catalogue of alternative data.”


Adam Kansler, president of financial services at IHS Markit, says:

“Capital markets are in the early stages of a profound shift towards incorporating more and more diverse datasets into the investment process. I think we at IHS Markit are unique for our interconnected approach to solving complex data challenges, and for our ability to help firms access alternative data spanning the industrial economy and the capital markets. Not only are we unmatched in the scope of information we offer, but we have experts to help asset managers find alpha in alternative data through consultation about data sources, methodologies and analytics for a growing number of alternative data factors.”


Read more articles from the Risk Markets Technology Awards 2020 winners’ review

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