PIERS1

PIERS, Part 1: The Fleet Battleship in an Ocean of TI Providers

This week’s series focuses on the 500 pound gorilla and alpha dog of Trade Intelligence Providers, PIERS, a division of UBM Global Trade (along with 7 other related companies) which in turn is one of 17 “business verticals” owned by London-based, publicly traded United Business Media.  Download annual report. For purposes of comparison and contrast, we will only be looking at PIERS and their handful of TI products.

PIERS company history goes back 175 years rooted in the Journal of Commerce  which provides news about global trade specifically related to waterborne freight movements.  JOC is one of the oldest publications in the United States, founded by Samuel Morse in 1827.  So, in some fashion or form, PIERS and sister companies have had almost two centuries evaluating and reporting on international freight movements.

Why is this important?  Well, it is definitely one of PIERS’ competitive strengths.  Tenured knowledge and experience with obtuse and complex data over time accrues to one a significant advantage that cursory acquaintance can’t replicate.  It’s safe to say no one knows the data better.

The other obvious advantage is the synergism and strength derived from being connected and intimately related to a multi-national media and information conglomerate with respectable resources at their disposal.  A single cruiser may be faster and more maneuverable but in comparison with an entire naval fleet wouldn’t last long in a firefight.

PIERS has elaborate normalization and refinement procedures in place for handling U.S. Customs data

On a more micro level, PIERS has some particular competitive advantages over other TI Providers that offer searching and reporting utilities atop U.S. Customs data, including:

  • They’re the ONLY ones to offer transactional waterborne export data.  The combination of reciprocal information exchanges with many ports & carriers along with an extensive staff stationed at ports collecting data is going to make this aspect hard to replicate.  Hence, PIERS is the only company that can provide BOTH sides of the import – export transactional picture.
  • PIERS attributes a harmonized code, many times down to the 6 digit level, to the individual shipment manifests.  Consequently, they assign estimated trade values by connecting said code to U.S. Census statistical data.  Arguably the values are many times askew, but as they say, “Bad breath is better than no breath at all”.  Nobody else even attempts it.
  • They are the best at data standardization and normalization, overall.  Many of us have done interesting, innovative and truly remarkable things with U.S. Customs data (and vastly superior in many ways) but the benchmark and standard is and always has been set by PIERS.

In the forthcoming articles, we will look at the specific “families” of products (both evolved and acquired) that currently comprise the expansive PIERS arsenal of Trade Intelligence.

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