Blog News Events Publications Directory Community Industry Voices Media

An Era of CTRM Innovation?

I had an update from Gen10 this last week. Richard Williamson, CEO, was busy telling me about many of the activities the company was engaged in, from an update on its blockchain initiative in a consortium with companies like Rabobank and Aon to, work on its CTRM, trade finance and marine insurance platforms, new APIs and so on, when I stopped him and asked, ‘how many people are you?.’ You see, I have been on the ‘other side’ and spent several happy years helping build TransEnergy from a handful of people to almost 100 along with a suite of solutions aimed at trading and risk and pipeline management. So, I know what it takes. So that got me thinking. So, here is a vendor with two offices and less than 20 people and they are turning out all of these applications and initiatives, supporting clients in the US, Europe and Asia. How?

Well, CTRM vendors tend to be victims of their own success quite often. In the traditional CTRM vendor model, as they sell the product they developed, they have to keep offering enhancements in order to broaden the footprint and the ultimate market for the product. The product is actually never finished but always a work in progress employing designers and developers to keep it all going. Of course, as the installed base grows, there are more customers to support and that takes staff as well – support analysts, developers, testers and so on. Back in the old client/server world, as the product broadened it became significantly more complex and harder to maintain – a monolithic mountain of interlocking code. As the company grows further, it may add new products, enter new geographies or add new functionalities (like concentrates functionality for example). Each or all of these initiatives increases the complexity and need for people. Trust me. I have been there.

But for newer vendors or vendors that have essentially made the decision to redo everything in a new architecture, some of these issues are not as difficult. As Richard told me in answering my question, “It’s the technology that helps makes us flexible. We have a fully multi-tiered cloud solution and have spent the time thinking about architecture in order to solve some of these issues,” he said. “Our aim was to build a scalable architecture that can support itself and gives freedom to our end-users to set things up how they need. It gives them the flexibility and as the support is less burdensome, it frees us up to innovate and develop new supply chain services.” As an example, one of its international clients has recently implemented at one of their business units in Malaysia themselves. Gen10 helped them with the data migration and plugged in the web service with their MS Dynamics ERP, but everything else was done by the client’s power users in-house. The whole process took 3 weeks. “Effectively, we’re enabling power and control for the client at a significantly lower cost of implementation.”

AdvertisingEKA Turbo Charge Trading Systems in Weeks
AdvertisingFendahl CTRM Technology

I also think Richard Williamson ought to take some credit himself. He is like many founders of CTRM software firms I have had contact with, an innovator at heart. Under his guidance, Gen10 has developed an approach around collaborative and industry solutions delivered as applications and API’s in an ecosystem that extends now to DLT/blockchain apps. “The only way to get true live reporting is by giving the end-users the tools they need to perform their tasks and duties. This gives an instant, accurate position for the business as well as a whole richer layer of performance data that helps drive operational gains.” This is a different approach to the after-the-fact reporting system like many of the older solutions were.

Like other entreprenuers in CTRM, Richard loves to talk and tell you about the things Gen10 is doing. He told me how in adding concentrates to Commodity Manager, they took the opportunity to implement live PnL – any change in the data causes a recalculation so that everything is always up to date, as opposed to ‘running a report’ . He knows how traders like their spreadsheets and how some reports assemble data from multiple sources and so they have added an API to allow spreadsheets and other BI tools to act as extensions to the Gen10 solution. “Flexibility is the key to scaling the business”, he says.

Gen10 are not the only smaller vendor excelling in innovation right now. Others are bringing their own innovations to market as perhaps you may have noted reading out blogs on the various vendors?. It is an exciting time in CTRM with many new, lithe, and adaptable vendors entering the market. These vendors are smaller and not hampered by obligations to a large installed base operating on multiple versions of customized software or outside funding companies. In the end, Gen10’s success will be in part not just about the innovations it makes but about how it differentiates itself from others innovating. And CTRM is actually often quite an innovative software category from the vendor perspective as the truth is, it is actually often the buyers who lag behind. And, at a time when there has been significant consolidation of the more established vendors in the market, now may be moment for an innovative challenger like Gen10. If it is, we will see how well they can adapt to growth. It will be interesting to watch.