PART 1 of “Trade Intelligence” looks at the real “smarts” required to make TI products useful and profitable. If vendors claim that their respective product can provide the “magic” that will make your business succeed, they are lying. No matter how sophisticated and technologically slick the “inter-face” is, profitable end results will only be extracted with considerable “face” time invested in the process by you and trusted trade “sages”. Machines (or TI products) that can out think (or do the thinking for) their human creators (or data users) still only exist in the realm of science fiction.
From WIKI: “Intelligence derives from the Latin verb intelligere which derives from inter-legere meaning to ‘pick out’ or discern.” Other references note that intelligence is also “The aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.” “The unique propensity of human beings to change or modify the structure of their cognitive functioning to adapt to the changing demands of a life situation.” Also from WIKI: “Business Intelligence is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information used to enable more effective strategic, tactical, and operational insights and decision-making.”
In my opinion, one of the most distinguishing characteristics of intelligence is curiosity: the hunger to know, to learn, to discover. Another aspect of intelligence is to see patterns, connections, and find meaning in seemingly unassociated fragments of information. Finally, intelligence applies these discoveries adaptively in order to reach its objectives.
I’ve often remarked during my presentations that the “the genius is in the question”. Questions drive innovation and application in the Trade Intelligence field. Behind every impactful report (in whatever product /application you may use) are queries. Queries are questions, crafted by ubiquitous database /tech guys, to fetch, arrange and deliver data in response to your questions. On a deeper level, the need to develop more meaningful connections between various types of data drives every respectable company in the industry in response to customer demand.
In coming up with profitable answers that will support and assist in making important business decisions in the realm of world trade, one must be careful to craft the question correctly… and to know what questions need to be answered. Then, a particular TI product can be evaluated on the basis of how well it can address those respective questions. Be careful to look beyond the price tag. After all, you’re going to be investing your most valuable commodity into the process of extracting any substantive value out of it…your time.
Part 2 of this article will examine the process of creating “Trade Intelligence” products along with practical “answers” that translate into bottom-line profitability.
*This post was originally published during the first week of May, 2011.