I recently wrote about Richard Williamson (CEO of Gen10) and his vision of developing an ecosystem of applications in and around the commodity supply chain. In fact, the Gen10 approach is interesting and somewhat innovative in that it focuses on the collaborative aspects of commodity supply chains seeking to optimize and enhance interactions between the various involved parties as well as help manage that supply chain. I got an update on that strategy this week from Mr. Williamson in which he described some of those initiatives to me.
The scope of Gen10’s activities are, as may be expected in this context, quite broad – procurement, online trading, trade finance, marine insurance, due diligence and governance, surveys and inspections, collateral management to name a few. However, this is a strength of the ecosystem approach versus the more traditional CTRM or Commodity Management software model where a single, large, and customizable application is built to meet all needs and then must be sold multiple times in order to stay in business. Instead, focused and collaborative applications can be deployed as needed, to potentially solve the problem in a more agile and incremental manner.
“If the future will be full of blockchains, people throughout the supply chain will need new business apps that can interface with them. And if it isn’t, all that effort won’t have been wasted.” Williamson said, “At the very least, the blockchain activity have highlighted the importance of standardizing data and processes in order to get to the next level. Our approach is that while waiting for the right blockchains to crystalize and return value, you can continue making progress with your digital transformation strategy with near-term tangible gains and plug these apps into the blockchain with our workflow engine, when your chosen blockchains are ready. Or just interface directly with your trade partners and service providers.“
Gen10 is placing a lot of emphasis on the need to improve data flows and relationships throughout these diverse and complex supply chains. By providing collaborative tools and APIs, Gen10 aims to improve these business processes so that operators and decision-makers at every level get a better handle on their operational risks, are able to take a more holistic view on their business, integrate their risk reporting, save costs and improve customer service at the same time.
With its Aud.IT and Dash.Board apps, it is demonstrating how mobile and off-line data collection in remote areas, back-office workflow and customer portals can come together seamlessly, complete with things like geo-tagging, photos and an interactive dashboard that customers can log in to. The data is also available via its APIs for onward processing. The type of information collected is entirely controlled by the user who can design their own surveys and KPIs, making it more agile. Williamson described two typical use-cases to us around sustainability audits; including in the area of cocoa, cobalt or wood pellets, and also around KYC/Supplier Audits.
Its “Fantasy Grain Game” is another interesting initiative that Gen10 is leading with one of the Big Four accountancy firms, training a number of teams supporting the commodities trading community. It uses Gen10’s the.Counter app to simulate the trade of Black Sea Wheat. Offers and bids are placed, and market sentiment is reported via news feeds (and an unscrupulous games master!). Deal confirmations are interfaced with Contract.Manager, a module of Gen10’s CTRM platform, where the contracts are generated automatically, workflowed and then marked to market in real-time via their Risk.Engine. All of this comes together in a data lake where 3rd party BI tools (in this case MS PowerBI) can connect and present it all in an interactive dashboard that includes things like a league table of participants, offer/bid analytics, stress-testing PnL and more. “It seems to be engaging participants that usually only get involved after the fact and trace back in their audits. This gives them hands-on simulation of how the front office activity gets to flow down to risk reporting and PnL. It’s also a nice showcase of the some of the capabilities we can put together to provide an overall solution.”
Gen10’s approach, like that of other suppliers including Eka, and perhaps Beacon, is what we see as a trend that is disintegrating the old monolithic CTRM approach and breaking it down both vertically and horizontally into its discrete components for ease of maintenance, deployment and increased agility. In part, we see the cloud as facilitating this move to the CTRM ecosystem and a whole host of point solutions or applications are now coming to market deployed in the cloud such as CTRMCloud, Molecule and others. Where Gen10 is perhaps differentiated is in taking a more holistic view of the need for collaboration across the supply chain with other entities such as insurer’s, banks, regulators, shippers and agents of various types.