There are three very important aspects of any Trade Intelligence application: Access, Integration and Delivery. These elements aid users in accessing, understanding and applying the trade information they need, when they need it, to make better, more informed business decisions.
Trade data is obtuse. Hard to decipher. Hard to make sense of. Hard to see value in.
International Trade Data – particularly U.S. Customs Manifest data and U.S. Census statistical data – is not collected to help you, the end-user, source products, gather information on your competitors, or prospect for new clients. By and large, it is collected by our government as a by-product of their attempts to monitor and control international trade transactions all for purposes of national security and taxes (tariffs).
Integration: It is the job of your friendly neighborhood TI provider, like Panjiva, to take this rather obtuse data, clean it up, make it presentable and put it together with other data in a way in which you can do something useful. In that regard, Panjiva has done some rather interesting things both in the areas of normalization (cleaning it up) and in integration or “connecting the dots”. They interconnect handfuls of third-party databases in ways that provide essential value added additions to the fundamental or primary U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Manifest (BOL) data.
Access and Delivery: In addition to overall smarts, money, a clear business objective and latching onto an important market niche that perfectly matches the inherent strengths that are able to be unearthed from the U.S. Customs data, the technologists at Panjiva, led by co-founder James Psota and lead engineer Timothy Garnett (both mega-tech geeks with MIT Computer Science Masters) have crafted an extraordinary “tight” (excellent, cool, awesome) product.
As an artist /engineer myself, I appreciate beauty and excellence when I encounter it, including exceptionally designed and engineered technology. An important aspect of well-crafted technology is that the components fit sleekly and efficiently together and contribute to the overall purpose and function for which they were created. Panjiva’s interface is designed to help U.S. Manufacturers source products overseas. The multifarious data and programming elements of their application seem to play well together and contribute that purposeful design.
As slick as the interface may be, it still comes back to data though. In the next two articles we’ll focus in turn on Panjiva’s normalization processes and third-party data sources.