Over the last several months, I have had many conversations across the industry in which the complexity of CTRM has been a significant point of the discussion. In a very diverse industry that ranges from small one or two-person scrap trading firms to global mega-business that are involved in many different commodities and raw materials, CTRM solutions have historically been designed to be as configurable and flexible as possible. But such configurability and flexibility come at the cost of complexity. Complexity increases the amount of expertise with a solution that users have to have to use it properly. It also increases the complexity, costs, and timeframes associated with implementation and updates, and increases the risks of implementation failure – either entirely or partially. In the last few years, the term ecosystem has been used to offer an alternative in which smaller, more-specific solutions could be adopted for vertical and/or horizontal purposes and knit together via APIs or some form of interfaces – often in the cloud. That is an admirable vision and one that does appear to show some significant promise. In the end, though, it is undoubtedly a case of horses for courses?
In those same discussions, the talk has also often been about customers who desire a lower-risk, easier-to-use CTRM solution. Something that can be up and running in days, not months. Something that does the job without taking years and an army to implement nor requiring financing to put in. A few vendors are trying to deliver on such a promise, and several of them are, as you might expect fairly new start-ups. Indeed, in conversations with Simon Piercy, CEO, and founder of CTRM Cubed, this has been the very heart of his objectives and business plan. Simon has built solutions before both as an internal IT resource and as a vendor, so he has a good deal of experience to bear on the issue. He also has a wide network of industry contacts whom I am sure he has consulted within the process. CTRM Cubed has come up with a solution that is fairly and squarely aimed at those who want a cost-effective and quick-to-set-up solution.
As the CTRM Cubed website states unequivocally – “TradeCube is an instant setup, pre-configured self-service CTRM platform, ready for use out of the box. No long-term contract, no exorbitant fees, no fuss. Just sign-up and use.” It is a simple and eloquent proposition and from what ComTech has seen of the software, it can be delivered as well. However, in order to deliver what it says on the box (website), some focus is needed – at least to get started. The solution essentially covers energy, equities, currencies, and broader commodities with a secure platform that supports trade, portfolio, and data management. It includes key metric calculations like VaR, PnL, and so on. Set up is straightforward, taking only minutes. So gone are lengthy, costly, and indeed risky implementations or upgrades.
Of course, it is early days, and as you might expect, it is not an all-singing, all-dancing CTRM. But then it isn’t meant to be. It is meant to be a pragmatic solution that at least initially serves smaller entities, those seeking an interim solution or even a solution for a couple of users in a regional office and so on, to start with. The CTRM Cubed model comes with an app store too in which users, other vendors, consultancies, and so on can, over time, add other solutions that work with TradeCube via open API’s – in other words, an ecosystem. It is an intriguing approach and one we are keeping a close eye on. Not only that, but it is an approach that with some significant variations in functional scope and coverage, others are also adopting, and it would be remiss of ComTech not to mention vendors like Previse Systems, for example, along with others like Agiboo, Gen10, Molecule, CTRMCloud and so on as working in broadly similar ways. Could this be the beginnings of an (r)evolution in CTRM? – only time will tell.