Patrick and I like to develop themes for each year and back last year, our theme was CTRM as an Architecture. We kicked off the year with a white paper of that very title. It dealt initially with definitions of CTRM and Commodity Management, but then developed the concept of CTRM not as an all singing application but as an architecture of horizontal and vertical components. The paper can be downloaded here. I’m not sure that our thinking really got out there in a big way but it was very pleasing to visit with Generation10 just before Christmas and start to hear its vision of an ecosystem of applications covering commodity management. It was even more surprising then to hear people like Powel and others talk about the idea of CTRM ecosystems in our first CTRMRadio podcast edition. It does seem to be a concept that is gaining a foothold.
In reality, all through 2017, we were introduced to what we call ‘platform plays’ as well. People like Beacon and Anydata who have devised and built a platform on which applications can be rapidly delivered and deployed – usually in the cloud. For Anydata, the focus has been in and around contract management whereas for Beacon, it has been squarely on ETRM – where they appear to be making good progress. Furthermore, as I reflect on conversations I’ve had in and around the space this last 6-months, there has been quite a move in this direction. FIS is now engaged in a sort of ecosystem strategy of its own by leveraging its entire suite of products (FrontArena, Kiodex and others), in a coherent ecosystem of products designed to solve the issues of both smaller and larger commodity players. Allegro has for many years also pursued a highly modular approach to delivering a wide array of functionality – as have others.
CTRM as an ecosystem or architecture makes a good deal of sense as it helps break down the conundrum of delivering a huge set of functionality, features and technology into smaller, solvable problems. It also allows larger companies that wish to pursue a more custom approach to build and buy assembling an ecosystem ion the process. I had a conversation with Adaptive this last week in which I noted a similar approach being taken by them in one of their larger clients as well. An ecosystem approach also potentially allows companies to digitize faster since opensource and new technologies like blockchain, AI and machine learning can also be deployed within that ecosystem in a focused and effective way.
We will be pursuing this ecosystem concept more closely in a CTRMRadio podcast in the near future but we have no doubt that it holds a great deal of promise.