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Data is king, integration is queen

Harnessing the power of data science and real-time intelligence offers a powerful single view of the market

Few people know that data intelligence firm Kpler’s journey actually started in 2014, when the founders were told by an LNG trader: “I receive many proposals for ship-tracking software, but I don’t care about the ships. I care about cargoes into them, their volumes and the commercial information related to them”.

The trader was actually referring to a common inconvenience of the commodity trading value chain, which is the capture and treatment of pre-trade data. In practice, traders and analysts spend a large amount of time collecting data sets from various sources, and then try to make sense of it by connecting the dots through spreadsheets. Fifteen years ago, there would have been virtually no solutions to solve this information-processing glut in the trading chain. But things started to change in the 2010s.

On the one hand, the overall digitalisation of information had significantly increased the volume of data that was available and 'processable'. More sources, such as satellite feeds or human market intelligence, could be better exploited. On the other hand, the constant increase in data processing capacities as well as the development of cloud-based applications were making AI technologies—constraint optimisation, machine learning and pattern recognition—‘easily’ implementable at large scale.

Integrate the market picture

Data intelligence companies such as Kpler embraced these new opportunities early on and pioneered new kinds of transparency solutions. By sourcing, processing and aggregating daily data from thousands of sources in an automated way, they provide analysts and traders with an integrated picture of commodity markets, a picture that is updated in real-time.

Sourcing, processing and aggregating daily data from thousands of sources provide analysts and traders with an integrated picture of commodity markets

Kpler brings real-time data not only on local and global flows—imports, exports, buyers and sellers—but also on crude inventories levels and freight utilisation. All this information is sourced and prepared both automatically and/or by market analysts to ensure only the best quality data is made available to the users.

This is then integrated into one single interface—the Kpler Terminal—and accessible in just a few clicks. The value of such solutions for users is huge, providing a single view of the market to analyse at their fingertips and in a frictionless manner.

Integrate the full data ecosystem

That said, most market professionals have access to proprietary, confidential information that cannot be found on external data platforms. It is precisely this proprietary information that gives them an edge in the market. Data integration from any source or vendor is becoming increasingly strategic, and companies want to have control over what, when and how they integrate.

We are entering a new cycle of integration with an increased demand to access data not only from a terminal, but also using means such as APIs, software development kits (SDKs), Business Intelligence Add-in (Excel, Tableau etc.) and so on. It is therefore crucial to allow users and companies to do this in the most efficient and reliable ways and on their own terms.

Integrate to better collaborate

On top of openly integrating the data, we see that our users increasingly want to use their business rules to smartly match and merge data to better derive insights and keep their competitive edge. They are also in need of better ways to collaborate on actions, decisions and workflow for teams in the same company to be more efficient. This requires a level of integration beyond the data alone, as well as an integration of the decision-making process and people.

Finally, you often hear that AI or machine learning will be the future of the industry. While we can all agree that they will play a critical role, they will not replace the analysts nor guarantee the quality of the data. A combination of new technologies and acumen from a market analyst on the other hand can provide better insight. All of those methods are a means to an end, the end being the intelligent and open integration of the data to enable teams to collaborate and better derive outcomes.

Clark Chahine is head of product at Kpler

This article is taken from our forthcoming Digitalisation Review, which will be published in November.

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