Inatech was established in 2002 and historically built custom software solutions before developing software products and transforming itself into a software company four years ago. With around 150 staff and multiple offices around the globe, the company has plainly thrived over that time.
Its’ heritage is in shipping and so its initial software product was Shiptech, a bunker fuel management solution. It also offers Bunkertech ETRM, a cloud-based end-to-end bunker supply management system and it counts two of the top 10 bunker suppliers as clients. More recently, it has added Techoil with an eye on the physical oil market. Techoil is a cloud-based, end-to-end cloud software product for the oil trading industry.
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Inatech and got a short demonstration of Techoil.
My very first question was why focus on delivering a product into what is the most mature and competitive part of the commodities industry? Inatech feel strongly that there is room for a cloud-based product that supports the supply chain, risk management, and financials for liquid hydrocarbons. They point to flexibility of their solution as a key selling point as “traders and operators need flexibility but risk and finance require controls”. Techoil, they told me, offers controls, superior technology support for the physical supply chain as well as analytics and reporting tools. “Inatech feel strongly that there is room for a cloud based ETRM product built primarily for the needs of a physical trading organisation. As more and more organisations get involved in physical trades – they face operational complexity (supply chain/movements) which erode already stretched margins. Managing market, operational and financial risk in one integrated system is Inatech’s mission,” Alok Sharma, Head of Commercials told me. As I saw in the demo, a significant amount of thought has plainly gone into building usability into the solution as well.
The user interface is modern, graphical with significant drill-down capabilities, and looks easy to use. Everything is customizable and personisable, and by using dashboards, the UI looks intuitive. Broad functionality includes Trade, Operations, Hedging/Risk, Inventory, Analytics, and Accounting. The financial solution is built around MS NaVision – a standard ERP solution that is optional meaning the solution can also integrate with other ERP solutions. Cloud-based, the solution is multi-tenanted and can also be supplied hosted in the cloud. The solution is surprisingly complete and eloquent too in the way that data can be entered or captured with contest sensitive and dynamic screens.
If it sounds as if I was impressed then quite honestly I must say that I was as Techoil seemed surprisingly functionally rich and well designed for such a new product. Inatech do acknowledge areas where further work is needed citing US pipeline management as one area on the forward plan. The design and architecture of the solution bodes well for the future as it would appear that, with minor tweaks, it would readily be able to support other bulk and packaged commodities like coal, ags and softs, and even metals.
The product is still relatively new, but it owes a lot to Inatech’s experience in developing its other two products and that partially explains why it is already functionally rich. With just a handful of current clients at the moment, Inatech will be keen to market the product quite aggressively in the near future, as it is certainly ready for market in our view. While the market is fiercely competitive, as the oil price rebounds, a modern product like Techoil should do quite nicely so long as what we saw in the demo translates into real world successful use as the proof is always how users benefit from a solution.