For many people in our industry, ETRM or CTRM software is something to get frustrated about periodically if, for some reason, screens and reports don’t perform quickly enough or the software isn’t working properly. I know that when I was running the operations of a European power trading operation, the only time anyone showed any interest in the trading software was when there was a problem. And when there was a problem, boy, did I hear about it! Given that for almost everyone in a trading firm, the E/CTRM software is simply either often taken for granted or may even be the subject of derision and hatred, it’s hardly surprising that our vendor perception surveys show that many can only name a handful of software providers – if any.
Despite the vast sums spent by vendors on creating brand awareness the truth is that unless in the market to buy a new solution, most users don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their software until something goes wrong. Even people that perhaps ought to care like risk managers and IT managers most likely do not or simply cannot keep tabs on the latest trends in the E/CTRM software category – that is, until something goes wrong or they need a solution. Yes, people have heard of the top 3 to 6 vendors but often not much beyond that and our surveys show that many are woefully out of date naming vendors long gone from the world.
There are more than 70 vendors in the E/CTRM software category – several market more than one software solution so perhaps there are close to a hundred solutions out there. It’s also true that as the software category has grown – and we estimate it’s a $1.67bn industry this year – some vendors have done well and now have multi-million dollar revenues, but there remains a whole raft of smaller niche vendors happily serving specific needs, geographies, or commodities, both small and large, across the breadth of the market. New or old, every one of these vendors initially set out to do to be somehow different and better than those that had gone before – cheaper, faster, more sophisticated, more reliable, faster to implement…and the list goes on. In fact, by building on the latest available technologies, many may indeed be an advancement of the state of the art in CTRM technology. However, at their core, each and every new product that comes to the market starts by defining and modeling the same basic components of commodity trading. Each develops its own model and then modifies that model for each new customer, prospect and change in the business. This means that there is actually significant variation between commercially available solutions despite the fact that all vendors use more or less the same language to describe what they offer.
The pace of change across the industry also means that all of these vendors are changing their products to keep up. As difficult as it is to keep up with trends in the industry, it is incredibly difficult to keep up with all the developments around the software solutions too. Many vendors are offering between 4-6 upgrades per year and their users often fall behind so how non-users are supposed to stay abreast of developments is anyone’s guess.
Why should anyone care anyway?
Well, that E/CTRM software could actually be costing your company a lot of money; not just in support & maintenance but also in terms of lost opportunities for the business. Here are some questions you should ask,
- Are you tracking Total Cost of Ownership for your solution?
- Have you measured the business benefits accrued from using the solution or whether in fact, it is costing the business instead due to its inflexibility?
- Even if you are measuring any of this, are you aware of what your vendor may be doing to improve its software?
- Have you seen a product roadmap?
- Do you have any say in that?
- Do you know anything at all about the alternatives on the market?
- What would it cost to switch?
In my experience (which amounts to somewhere around 18-years of being involved in the ETRM/CTRM software category), few users can answer any or all of the questions above.
One way to catch up on learning about where E/CTRM software is at and what the latest trends, products and vendors are would be to attend the 1-day CTRM Conference on October 2nd at the Pullman London St. Pancras hotel. With a compelling agenda comprising of your peers talking about industry issues and how that impacts the software category, ample networking opportunities and an opportunity to meet some of the vendors in the space, this is a cannot miss event. A second way would be to start visiting the CTRM Center – the portal for everything CTRM. There you can catch up on opinions, news, research, and more all for free.
If selecting software is your issue, why not ask us to help you figure out who the vendors and products are that you and your consultants/Systems Integrator should be looking at? We DO track all the vendors all the time and we are CURRENT with developments in the space. We can rapidly and cost effectively build a list for you that will include the vendors you may have heard of and the ones that you probably haven’t. We will cut your risks of missing the best solution for you. Just contact us and ask anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
The CTRM Conference to be held in London on October 2nd, at The Pullman, St. Pancras. This unique one-day event focuses on commodity trading and risk management (CTRM) software and brings together end users, service practitioners and vendors to spend a day focused the key issues and trends impacting the industries and users served by these critical systems. Hosted and facilitated by ComTech Advisory, the leading analysts in the CTRM software space, and Commodities Now magazine, the CTRM Conference brings a compelling agenda of presentations, knowledge sharing and roundtable discussions involving leading experts in the space and is supplemented by excellent networking opportunities.
The CTRM Conference is sponsored by Platinum sponsors – Generation 10, Quorum Business Solutions, Gold sponsors –Brady PLC, DataGenic and Trayport Contigo and Bronze sponsors, Agiboo BV, Aspect Enterprise Solutions, Commodity Services & Solutions, Energy Solutions International, Invensoft, JustCommodity and OpenLink.