Yes, creativity and technology are slowly being applied to the world of world trade data. Back in the day, the only way you could fetch a good look at shipment manifests was by pouring through a stack of CDs each month and viewing row after row of roughly hewn data. Heck, that was only 10 years ago. CenTradeX was the first to merge, integrate, marry, correlate disparate data systems together. In addition, it was the pioneer in developing easy to use graphic interfaces and powerful visual reports.
When I began in the Trade Intelligence field in the year 2000, it was incredulous to me that NO one had ever layered global statistics with U.S. statistics. It seemed like a no brainer to me. We kept adding layer upon layer (of statistical, referential and company data) in order to develop a more 3-D versus flat perspective of international trade. Another remarkable thing to me was how misunderstood and undervalued trade data was and to a large extent still is.
Trade Intelligence is at the helm of the wheel that navigates $12 trillion dollar worth of imports and exports annually. It would stand to reason that more people would respect and want to unleash the full power and potential contained within the kernels of trade data. Many new providers are coming on the scene touting cheaper and cheaper access to the U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Data (see last weeks article “TI Transformation; Data into Information into Knowledge into Intelligence into Application“).
Most offer very rudimentary search utilities to access and manipulate the same data. This proliferation and commoditization of the U.S. Customs data only reinforces the common marketplace perception of its uselessness and worthlessness. Yet, when used creatively and skillfully, in combination with other data sources can make huge impact to the bottom line. Overall, competition is good. Many times it forces positive innovation and change. However, it can also kill it.
Many years ago, during the reign of the “old guard” at PIERS, we (CenTradeX) met with the executive team in order to discuss joint venture opportunities. After thorough review of our CenTradeX applications – which dynamically integrated many global, U.S., State Statistical sources as well as Global, U.S. and China company information databases, it was remarked, “All that would be a good SUB-SET to our U.S. Waternorne Import Data”. Suffice to say that a deal was not forthcoming.
The “new guard” at PIERS is hemispheres away from that way of thinking. John Day, CEO UBM Global Trade and Gavin Carter, CIO UBM and at the helm of PIERS, are sharp, forward thinking, global minded trade intelligence professionals. Since the recent installment of their new management team, complete overhaul of their legacy IT systems, and acquisition of innovative trade intelligence applications from CenTradeX in 201o, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Notwithstanding, they and other reputable Trade Intelligence providers are under pressure from the bottom-fishers who are only interested in turning data into quick dollars at the expense of long term viability. Such forces will only serve to stagnate growth and development, IMHO.