The history of CTRM is replete with brand names that came and went. In fact, I could likely name at least 30 right now off the top of my head and with a bit of time, that might even be 50. Most of these would have been acquired of course and one or two simply went bust. Despite that, there are still around 90 vendors or more offering CTRM or related solutions and each year, we find a few more. There has been consolidation, I suppose, especially when you look at installed bases – Ion, FIS and so on – but, by and large, in most areas, buyers seem to have a lot of choice because there are so many solutions. The ebb and flow of vendors and their products is something that intrigues me and it’s why I value the vendor perception study that we do every couple of years.
But, do all of these vendors and solutions really mean more choice?
Well, when you dive in to the detail I suppose that is arguable. Part of the ebb and flow is due to technological change and changing requirements so actually, quite a few of those 100+ products are likely legacy by most people’s definition. Many older products that are still widely used are not cloud native, for example. Furthermore, many of these software products haven’t necessarily kept up with all market requirements and thus have become niche products – usable in certain industry segments and geographies but not all. And, as those of us that have been in the industry a while know, many are still lacking functionalities by virtue of their relative youth, coverage or focus.
So, if I am looking for a cloud solution for say Ags & Softs, how much choice do I really have? The truth is, not much if you truly insist on cloud native technology anyway. In fact, weirdly, if you are looking for a solution in Ags & Softs, you might be surprised at how few solutions there are on any platform. The same is true if you are looking for a solution for LNG, emissions certificates, and perhaps other commodities. It is only in power & gas, oil and these days metals, where you will actually find a good range of choice I could argue. If you were looking just for natural gas solution with good storage capabilities and support for pipelines etc., you may also find your choices fairly limited under certain circumstances.
I find the sudden depth of choice in metals a bit strange to be honest. A few years ago, you would be looking at Brady and Ion (OpenLink and Triple Point) more or less. These days, include Gen10, Amphora, Enuit, SAP, Fendahl, Commodities Engineering, Ion Aspect, Eka, Datamine, Mineman and others. Power and gas has quite a bit of choice too but a lot of that choice is also regional and you will find many regional and even local suppliers of ETRM for power and gas.
So, in reality, although there are a lot of vendors and even more products available, for some buyers in certain regions, with certain requirements (functional and technical) and certain industry segments, there is a much narrower choice.
And that, I suppose, is why new solutions continue to emerge.