CenTradeX was known to be on the cutting edge of developing innovative trade applications. Over a decade we focused our resources in 3 general areas: Access, Integration and Delivery. Access is in terms of providing user-friendly interfaces with common sense terminology and easy to understand processes. Integration is connecting the dots, i.e. associating many types and kinds of data together. Delivery is from the stand point of developing “Disney type” graphic displays and reporting mechanisms that help bring data to life and highlight business understanding and application.
The most challenging task, one that our team labored on for a decade and into which we invested the lion’s share of our development budget was integration. It was rather easy to layer global, U.S. and state statistical data… although it had not been done by any company prior.
Next came connecting company information – gathered from many sources including Kompass, Hoovers, D&B, PIERS, etc. The difficulty came (and comes) from the fact that statistical information is organized under one universally accepted schema (the harmonized tariff system) while company information is arranged under a completely unrelated system (SIC, NAICS, or a special proprietary one in the case of D&B and Kompass). To reveal the traders (importers and exporters) underneath the numbers, one has to connect those dots. Not an easy task…
Finally, statistical information and company information are only updated on a monthly, quarterly or even annual basis. Although much can be learned from combining these disparate data sets /systems, the real value is connecting daily, transactional data with these. That’s where the U.S. Customs Waterborne Import manifest data comes in. Although it only tracks U.S. imports and only those arriving by sea, it still represents a trillion dollars of international trade. The U.S. market is known to be the easiest market to access by foreign exporters. And we are a country of consumers. And most importantly, contrary to most other trading nations, through the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) many details of the individual transactions by foreign suppliers and U.S. importers is transparent and public.
There are other ancillary data sets that offer valuable perspectives that are worth noting and integrating such as shipping costs, tariffs, foreign exchange rates, supplier ratings, etc. The point here though is that integration leads to value and competitive advantage.
Because UBM Global Trade /PIERS had already invested decades and millions of dollars into their “data engine”, the powerful CenTradeX A.I. Engine was excluded from the acquisition in 2010. As a result, we retained THE most valuable of our assets: our A.I. Engine and Data repositories upon which all our innovative web applications were built and into which we invested many hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 10-year span.
I believe, although several T.I. Providers have done some very neat and noteworthy things with data over the last couple years, that our A.I. engine – now dormant since May 2010 – is still the most advanced system by which to parse and normalize the daily waterborne data. It uses complex internal scripts while referencing a huge company database of millions of international trading companies and connects this transactional data to company, statistical and ancillary data.