Talking with Jan van den Brom of Agiboo is always interesting as he often has intriguing observations to impart. In recent months and years, conversations with Jan have often touched on the need for education in the industry. I don’t think I would be misquoting him in saying that he sees ComTech as a necessary and beneficial educator and advisory in the industry. He constantly encourages us to revisit topics periodically as “new people are coming into the industry all of the time who don’t necessarily know the things we assume they do.” I had made a similar observation a couple of years ago when at a conference and facilitating a discussion around spreadsheets. The room was full of young and dynamic people eager to learn and who had not been exposed to the issues around using spreadsheets. I took note of that.
A few years ago, Jan started writing a massive set of website materials that Agiboo had me edit. The idea was to provide a knowledge center at its website. I’m not sure how much of that original content remains on the website today. Still, it was a treasure trove of solid, primary, and more advanced information about commodities, and trading and risk management. Subsequently, the knowledge side of that website has had an overhaul. However, you will still find there information on many topics – like individual agricultural commodities and the processes involved in bringing them to market. This has now been joined by a program that Agiboo has been running for many months featuring short informational videos.
The video tutorials are available both on the Agiboo website and YouTube channels. Yes, they do feature Agiblocks, but their primary purpose is to help educate people in the industry and provide a resource for those who wish to learn a bit more. There are now six informational videos ranging from physical commodity contracts to position management and MtM. More are in the works, and Jan told me that “we are moving into the logistics side next. Season 1 is around trade, and season 2 around logistics.” While plainly, the videos serve to promote Agiboo and its product, Agiblocks, the intent behind them is to help educate and preserve industry knowledge. They are executed to a high standard and reflect well on Jan’s enthusiasm for the industry and his company.
We, too, are sure that as experience and talent leave the industry, and new people enter, finding a way to pass on knowledge and expertise is critical. Now that much of the industry is no longer able to work together due to lockdowns and work from home, passing on learning has to become a more conscious activity for all of us. Rubbing shoulders with colleagues in the office was a great way to learn and absorb, but it simply isn’t possible these days, and who knows when it will be the norm again. The same goes for tradeshows and conferences – while a lot has been transferred to online – this doesn’t substitute for the informal get-togethers and passing on of intelligence and learning. We see that Jan has a point in providing another source of information and experience online. ComTech is also in that business, and in providing the tools, insights, news, opinions, and media that we do, we too try to play our role.