When most of us think about oil, we are mainly concerned with how much it will cost to fill up our cars with gasoline. What we don’t consider is how gasoline actually arrives ready at the pump – the refining process that breaks crude oil down into a variety of consumer and industrial products. This process is the domain of commodity brokers – individuals who make their living putting together deals between buyers and sellers of petroleum products to feed the public’s inelastic demand.
Commodity brokers are often headquartered in one office, with several satellite locations located across the globe. Brokers must communicate with other energy brokers, traders, and clients throughout the day, while simultaneously watching movement of the markets. Communication – not to mention access to information – can make or break a deal.
Brokerage firms are turning to unified communications (UC) solutions that include video conferencing solutions to facilitate the deals that take place among numerous participants in dispersed locations. For example, UC solutions are used to:
- Improve communication among the firm’s headquarters and satellite offices. Brokers in remote locations such as Omaha, Nebraska or Houston, Texas can maintain a presence in the New York City headquarters by remaining on video on a main screen that is visible to everyone. This creates the feeling that the remote brokers are part of the New York team, and information about clients, commodity prices, and deals can easily be shared at a moment’s notice.
- Improve relationships with clients by strengthening rapport and building trust. Much of the communication among brokers is conducted via instant message and email. This method is effective, but lacks a personal touch. Even when there is communication over the phone, clients may not feel entirely comfortable with a transaction that is worth millions of dollars if the broker is an unknown entity. Once introductions have been made over video, and video is used as part of the communication mix, trust is established and maintained and as a result, deals are facilitated.
- Monitor the fluctuation in petrochemical prices that occur daily on the New York Mercantile Exchange and other markets. Data from the Mercantile Exchange remains depicted on a main screen the entire day, reflecting prices in real-time.
Video can be used to achieve impressive results in the world of commodity brokers when used as part of a cloud-based UC solution that includes integration with voice, instant message, and data. When communication is improved and deals are facilitated, the result is thousands of dollars in commissions – amounts that easily and quickly justify the cost of the investment in technology.