Energy Risk Awards 2019: Eka disrupts commodities software world with app-based technology
The technology demands of commodity trading firms are changing rapidly. Many are now grappling with moving risk functionalities and data to the cloud, developing advanced analytics and deploying new technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
One firm addressing all these issues is Eka Software Solutions. The firm, which launched its original energy platform in 2011, unveiled its redesigned Digital Commodity Management Platform in 2018, signing up 25 new clients to the platform in the first 12 months.
Eka’s platform marks a departure from conventional commodity trading and risk management (CTRM) software systems that can often take six months to a year to implement and can cost anywhere between $500,000 to $1 million. “With Eka’s modern architecture the user can pay as they go, they can use cloud, the technology is scalable and every app is very configurable,” says Eka’s chief executive Manav Garg.
The platform’s cutting edge architecture essentially breaks traditional CTRM systems into different functionalities that are delivered as apps, giving users the flexibility to pick and choose the apps they need. They can start by deploying the most critical functionalities and add more as they grow.
Garg wanted to create enterprise software that would provide users with the same opportunities to chat, share data and be mobile that they were used to as retail consumers through technologies such as WhatsApp and Skype, he says.
“In our daily lives we use mobile constantly and we are keeping more software on cloud, which allows more collaboration,” he observes. “That really defines the modern nature of software. So we upgraded our entire technology stack to be able to deliver all those things to our end customers.”
“With Eka’s modern architecture the user can pay as they go, they can use cloud, the technology is scalable and every app is very configurable”
Manav Garg, Eka
Since launch, the platform has attracted the firm’s first energy client in the Middle East and its first coal customer in Asia. The average length of implementation has been 12–16 weeks, Eka says.
The platform spans the entire trading value chain from sourcing to trading and risk management, to supply chain and all the way to downstream, across all energy commodities, including coal, crude and refined oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquefied natural gas, power, and renewables.
Through application programming interfaces, the platform has been built to integrate easily with other enterprise systems including Refinitiv, Sap, Oracle, NetSuite, Workday and Salesforce. As a result it can use data from third-party systems such as accounting packages and live market data feeds to enterprise resource planning, treasury, procurement and inventory systems.
“We are all moving toward the connected enterprise,” says Garg. These days most companies still have numerous legacy architectures and data siloes, which are effectively islands, he says. “The effect is to slow down decision-making, impacting the firm’s ability to spot and act upon opportunities.”
The Eka platform’s connectivity allows firms to use consistent data across their businesses. The apps also offer built-in analytics and risk tools, as well as access to ML and AIcapabilities.
The platform can also help firms remain compliant with evolving regulation. “A client can save days of manual processing and spreadsheet analysis by accurately automating everything, from pricing/deal information to trade capture,” Garg says.
One medium-sized energy firm stated that Eka’s system has turned a four-day, labour-intensive task into a 30-second automated process. “Having access to the right data at the right time is key to good decision-making,” the firm said in a testimonial. “The (Eka) app enables us to view exposure at the click of a button instead of waiting a full business week for the manual report to be put together. It eliminated any chance of human error while aggregating, blending and analysing inputs from all our data sources and providing us with one, true picture.”
Importantly, Eka’s offering includes a mobile app that provides access to real-time data allowing users to stay on top of volatile markets and make the most of opportunities as they arise. The mobile view is also intended to allow users to collaborate better and make critical trading decisions faster and with real-time access to position, P&L and risk data.
The truly modular delivery of its platform makes deployment economical to firms that might not be able to afford conventional CTRM systems, Garg says.
“If the cost [of deployment] is $1 million, perhaps only 1,000 companies in the world could afford it,” he says. “But the commodity management market has over 10,000 companies that need it. So by seeing the price point fall, and by delivering systems faster, we are increasing the adoption of CTRM systems.”
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