This afternoon, I was catching up with one of our CTRM Thought Leaders – Jan van den Brom of Agiboo – when we got on to an interesting topic. The topic was the sheer diversity and number of CTRM solutions on the market – something over a hundred. You would think that buyers would be spoiled for choice with so many different products on the market right? Well, no, not really unless perhaps you want a power or oil ETRM anyway. Mr van den Brom made the observation that if you were looking for a specific commodity solution say like Cocoa or perhaps even metals, the choice was actually very narrow. I had to agree.
If you head over to the Directory and start to narrow your search down to specific commodity like Cocoa or metals, you will find that 100+ vendors list pretty diminished. The problem is that most commodities outside of energy (and even some energy commodities) are pretty complex and pretty unique so, if you want a solution that really gets to grips with the complexity and specifics of say, Cocoa, your choices suddenly become very much narrower. Of course, if you push out an RFP, a lot of opportunistic vendors might well respond claiming capabilities in a particular commodity but if you really need a physical supply chain type commodity solution, choosing one of theses, as Mr van den Brom remarked, could land you in a whole host of implementation issues as you jointly discover that the functionality is only skin deep. Indeed, for some commodities like palm oil, there probably only is one solution on the market that can actually tick all of the boxes.
In a sense, this is one of the reasons why there are over 100 products on the market – the sheer complexity and diversity of the business. If you want to manage your complex physical supply chain for a specific commodity it truly may be a case of water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!