About 3-years ago, Patrick and I were chatting over breakfast at our E-World hotel. We were talking about CTRM in the cloud and about how the industry seemed to be looking for a ‘one-size fits all’ CTRM solution and why this could probably never be achieved. To us, it seemed as if the problem was one of trying to get deep and specific commodity-related functionality across a number of different commodities combined with horizontal functionality like reporting, risk management, regulatory compliance and so on. Can you put all of that in one single solution? If you can, can you support and maintain through what is often massive and sudden changes in the industry? That’s a big ask!
Out of that conversation came a whitepaper – CTRM as an Architecture. We had the idea that CTRM needed to be disaggregated and thought of as architecture rather than as an application. We saw the cloud and services as perhaps facilitating some of the drive towards a CTRM architecture. These days, we talk about CTRM as an ecosystem as opposed to architecture, but we mean the same thing.
It’s been fun to watch the market and see how others have perhaps had similar ideas and start to execute on them. One thing I very much learned talkimng to Agiboo recently was how important it was to develop deep vertical functionality if a CTRM solution vendor wanted to be successful in specific commodities like Coffee, Cocoa and Sugar – this has been its approach. Meanwhile, Gen10, for example, has moved towards developing specific applications to support collaboration in commodity supply chains. These applications form an ecosystem of applications and APIs. Eka has also moved in a similar direction and now have an app store from which you can download specific functionality and deploy it in an ecosystem of apps and APIs. In North America, Molecule has followed a similar approach. We have also seen new entrants bringing to market bringing specific horizontal or vertical functionality to market deployed in the clour. These include TRADESPARENT, CTRMCloud, and others. Brady has also been looking at an approach of an ecosystem of services and is delivering services like its new tolling service which can be deployed standalone to work with competitor CTRM solutions. We see vendors like Beacon offering development platforms that essentially allow you to build and deploy an ecosystem of applications in CTRM. I could mention many more (apologies if I omitted you!). To us, it does seem as if there is a movement towards trying to deploy more agile solutions and that often translates into an ecosystem approach.
For those who have deployed a large multi-commodity monolithic CTRM – whether commercially-supplied or built in house, this approach also allows a slow migration towards a more agile set of applications. By taking and deploying some of these focused applications around their monolithic application, that migration can start. The recent CTRMRadio looked at this in much more detail and is well worth a listen. Simon Piercy of CTRMCubed does a very good job of explaining this trend and what the benefits can be while Bob Stilwell of CAPCO provides a consulting view. Richard Williamson and Bruce Tozer of Gen10 chime in also with some very pertinent observations on what is happening and why. Additionally, next week, we will have a new video up where Patrick is talking with Sameer Soleja – President, CEO and Founder, Molecule Software – and covering the topic also.