There is a valuable lesson to be learnt from the International Petroleum Exchange's drawn-out shift to online trading
Next week the exchange will bring down the shutters on its open-outcry trading pits where blazer-clad traders broker multimillion-pound deals face-to-face.
After a virtual boycott of the new trading systems when they were rolled out in November 2003, the IPE board last November moved to force traders online for part of the day. Now they have resorted to compulsion and are shutting the trading floor completely.
The arguments for online trading are clear. It is fast, efficient, secure and will aid regulatory compliance. The IPE's business case for its online trading project was unassailable. The technology was proven and the investment made, yet users' views were clearly not sufficiently considered.
Traders are so angry at the online move that a rival trading exchange is setting up shop in London later this year offering both online and open-outcry trading for those that that want it.
For IT professionals, the story of the IPE shows once again that without end-user buy-in technology projects will falter, if not fail.
This was first published in March 2005