Spotlight Series: Katie Lam
Digiterre was a partner at the recently concluded annual Commodity Trading Week. The conference focussed on Commodities Trading specifically, how new technologies and industry factors influence the marketplace. The main theme across each of the forums was the digitisation of the marketplace – be it in the area of trading, managing your supply chains or risk etc. Within those areas, the constant theme was on having high quality data, accessible for the business functions to drive value for businesses.
Data is increasingly diverse and, in many cases, unstructured so skill and effort are required to store, cleanse and ultimately extract business value from the data. There was a major focus on ESG data and other alternative data – like the heat signatures of powerplants as read by satellites! Alternative and ESG data, in particular, is increasingly important as well as operating businesses along more socially conscious lines and in doing business with firms doing similarly.
Another theme was that IT is now at the heart of businesses and ever more important and how companies are becoming more and more IT centred. Having a CTO on the company board is now more of a requirement in moving businesses forward. There was a lot of discussion about in-house expertise vs the vendor and consultancy spaces and build it yourself versus buy-in, and that is true not just for IT but also for the people you need.
The current pandemic was also another key theme and how it had changed our ways of working and in particular, sped up the uptake of cloud and hybrid cloud/on premise strategies.
Another constant theme was AI and Machine learning other new technologies. The focus there was on having excellent data quality to drive trading models. It seems we are still far off the machines taking over, but quantum computing may not be that far off.
Digiterre featured on three esteemed panels; Digicom, Trader live and Comrisk forum.
Commodity Trading Week kicked off with the Digicom forum and CTO, Rajesh Jethwa was on an esteemed panel of industry CTO’s discussing Don’t Both implementing Data Lake – if you are not ready.
Raj managed to relevantly introduce South Park and domestic building regs into the discussion. He also gave a great overview of what is a data lake, the 5 v’s of data and had many other keen insights. The main thrust though was making sure the Data Lake was the correct database structure and always focussing on and evaluating the business value you are trying to drive.
At the Traders Live forum, CEO/Founder Ian Murrin was part of a panel with senior market practitioners discussing Trading Technology – Keeping a pulse on what tech has to offer. Ian managed to introduce building cars and playing in sandboxes relevantly into the discussion. He discussed the value of data and how to best describe, optimise, audit and manipulate it and build tools to drive business value. He later discussed how businesses can drive down operational costs through digitisation and in doing so release key resource to focus on driving the business forward as opposed to on operational issues.
Ian Murrin also moderated the third panel, Digitisation in Commodity Trading and Risk Functions at the final forum, Comrisk. Here he found a kindred spirit in Annisa Roberts. The common key themes were around the use of agile methodologies, like starting small and learning fast. There were discussions on the importance of collaboration both internally and within the industry but on issues that drive value for your business and not necessarily on the industry as a whole. Ian did a majestic task of leading the discussion and it was extremely interesting and relevant.
There were many other interesting panels like Bridging The Generational Gap which focussed on how the Covid epidemic had far more negative effects on young people in companies. The discussion was around how to mitigate those negative impacts for our younger colleague and still foster a collaborative environment for them to thrive remotely, and hopefully soon in person.
The event was concluded by a fascinating talk by the ex CFO of Enron. How described he had blundered into the position he ultimately found himself mainly through accepting business practices that were on the face legal, but exploited loopholes in the law. It took a couple of years in jail to realise why what he did was wrong. His key lesson being that observing the spirit of the law is key in business, controversially suggesting that business always operate in the grey area of the law and that to manage the risk thereof was actually the key.
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