Is this a spreadsheet audit / compliance solution?
No, we have a very different focus. Our goal is to bring "enterprise"-grade software capabilities to smaller companies so they can solve a much wider variety of business problems on their own or with a little help from us. We do that by greatly expanding the range of business problems that can be solved with a bit of spreadsheet experience.
Reading more about our core Nex technology should make this clearer.
How is it different from a spreadsheet?
The main differences are:
- It's shared between everyone in your organization—a bit like everyone being able to work in the same spreadsheet but without the confusion. So you all get a global view, and all see the most up-to-date data.
- Data isn't limited to sheets and cells containing numbers and text. You can store structured data in any form, and with a much wider variety of data types. You can capture documents, audio, video, formatted text and more. You structure data using lists, records, tables and N-dimensional arrays with hierarchical axes.
- It's more like using pivot tables than using standard sheets.
- You can limit data changes to specific actions (e.g. "confirm trade") which capture the relevant information and make formula-controlled changes to your database. Actions can be secured, so you can be sure changes are only made by authorized individuals.
- All changes are journalled, which means we can find out who did what, and when.
These features are provided by our Nex technology.
How is it like a spreadsheet?
It's formula-based and works just like the spreadsheet formulas you're used to. The functions have the same names, but we have a lot of additional functions. Many of these let you work with much richer concepts, like date rules, multi-dimensional arrays with hierarchical labels, time series, data capture templates and many others.
You aren't limited to organizing data using tabular sheets. Instead, we use what we call "arrays", which are more similar to pivot tables than they are to standard spreadsheets.
Do we need to hire programmers to use it?
No; day-to-day use, ad hoc reporting and configuration of CommodiFusion Finance doesn't require any programming skills.
How long does it take to customize?
Creating a fully custom solution is more like building spreadsheets than traditional vendor customization projects, so customization / implementation time will generally be measured in weeks rather months or years.
Compared to attempting a similar solution with spreadsheets, the more complex data modelling and security requirements of a multi-user system lead to a slightly longer project, but advanced features such as much better support for date processing and time series often lead to a shorter project.
So it depends on what you want to achieve. We're happy to discuss this with you without you making any commitment.
Do you use VBA, SQL, macros or some other programming language?
No, because having a separate programming language and formula language makes it more difficult to learn. We've chosen to use the spreadsheet-based formula language for everything so it's not necessary to learn a new programming language.
When there is a mix of formulas, VBA, macros and SQL it becomes difficult to work out what is happening, which makes it difficult and risky to change and much harder to verify the correctness of models.
Do you really believe formulas are enough?
Yes, we do. Formulas are a simpler and more elegant way of expressing relationships and deriving information than programming languages can achieve. Processing data using formulas can never change the original data in the way that programming languages can. So there is no mistake you can make in a report or scenario that can destroy or corrupt data. Data changes only when you or someone else deliberately do so.
Do I need to install a database or anything like that?
No. CommodiFusion Finance has its own fully integrated database. We install everything for you and keep it up to date. It's a fully-managed service.
So is there a database query language?
No. The database has been designed from the outside to work with formulas. There is no special database query language to learn, no drivers or connection strings. Unless you stop to think about it, you won't even realize you are using a database.
We offer many features that are hard to achieve with traditional database technology: full audit trails for changes, "as-of" views across all data, ephemeral scenarios, and even fully independent work-streams.
Do we need IT people and servers to use this?
No. We're happy to work alongside your IT people, but we provide a fully managed service. We rent servers on your behalf, install the operating system, keep it up to date with security fixes and perform backups. We install and maintain the platform, and provide you with user support.
We also provide fully-managed solutions, from analysis of your needs, through implementation of a custom solution, to operational maintenance, support and future enhancements you request.
Will we be sharing our systems with anyone else?
No. We provide cloud servers specifically for each client. There is no sharing of resources so you're isolated from excessive resource consumption, interference and prying by other companies. Your data is fully segregated, and you can scale your hardware up or down completely independently as your needs change.
Do you offer sell-side products or solutions?
Not right now. Sell-side solutions usually require the lowest possible latency and highest possible flow transaction volumes, and dictate an emphasis on specialized, custom-engineered technology rather than flexible, general-purpose technology. But for lower transaction volumes and where flexibility is more important, such as structured product quoting and execution, our technology provides a good solution, so please contact us to discuss your goals and performance parameters.
Your Worlds technology sounds like a version control system—is it?
Yes, Worlds is a version control system for business data. You can think of it as a version-controlled database. Each world is what is usually termed a "branch" in version control systems. The major difference is the unit of control is a business transaction rather than changes to a group of files. The audit trail is analogous to the "log" in a version control system.
Branching and merging operations are possible, and merging results in business transactions being applied to the new branch. System configuration, reports and business data are all covered by our version control technology. In other words, everything that can affect system behaviour is version-controlled.