What, then, is Trade Intelligence? Many, if not most, data providers like to link their company and products to that term in one fashion or another. After all, it sounds a whole lot sexier than “trade data”. Data is about as sexy as dirt. Wouldn’t you pay more for “trade intelligence” than you would for “trade data”? I imagine that it evolved from the popular use of the term “business intelligence”. One should be discerning though; a pig dressed up like a princess and given a noble title, is still, after all a pig.
As founder /CEO of CenTradeX, I (and my team) spent a decade trying to build better bridges between trade data and trade data users. The initial premise was that there was tremendous inherent value locked away in publicly available trade data that had been hitherto ignored or undervalued. Our journey led to many innovations in the field of “trade intelligence”.
The first was combining many sources of data together to provide a more complete picture, 3-D versus flat, for example: U.S Trade Flows with Global Statistics with State Exports. Thereafter, we integrated several sources of company data with statistics… a project that often kept me up late into the night, and that I called a “Beautiful Mind” endeavor because it about drove me crazy. Marrying huge sets of data organized under very different, asynchronous code systems is not a simple task.
Another aspect of bridge building was presenting the data in graphic form with user-friendly reporting tools. One of our first customers, Howard Cochran, IB professor at Belmont University, used to comment that we “taught data to dance”. Our goal was to dress up data to look like Disney… trade data dancing and singing alluring melodies that would woo potential customers. All these innovations were elements of the bridge building process to transform trade data into trade intelligence.
However, at the end of the day, we learned a very important lesson: No matter how much creativity and technological wizardry we brought to the table, we could not build a bridge that would reach to the other side. The last section of that bridge is people. No interface or TI product can, or ever will, stand alone as THE consummate solution. Suppliers, Marketers, Consultants, Analysts, Trade Reps, Teachers, Matchmakers, and the trade data users themselves, ultimately provide the “intelligence” behind TI products.
Therefore, the core, primary, essential element of Trade Intelligence is first and foremost people: people are the intelligence behind “trade intelligence”. And thus the reason why WorldTradeDaily.com focuses on all the key players in the industry from CEOs to database engineers, marketers and clients.
*This post was originally published during the first week of May, 2011.