Ahead of the pack, both of newcomers and established top-tier Trade Intelligence providers (excluding PIERS), when it comes to the value added aspects of enhancing U.S. Customs data is Panjiva. Other TI providers may be faster, have other country transactional databases, been around longer, have cool features with broader appeal and application, but the company that has done the most with the underlying raw data (again, with the exception of PIERS) is most definitely Panjiva. Let me explain.
First, some really smart people (Harvard & MIT trained folk) founded Panjiva. Really not a big deal in and of itself, I know some really smart people who work with the other TI providers as well. They just don’t have the same credentials. As the Wizard of OZ aptly reminded the Scarecrow:
Secondly though, they had money. A venture capital firm backed Panjiva with sufficient resources to enable them to design & build something of significance. (Funny, there was no Wizard of Oz bequest of that commodity.)
Third, their User Interface was built to serve one primary purpose for one particular target market. Help U.S. Importers source products and components overseas. Period. End of Story. Simple ideas usually work best.
Most importantly, they truly have gone to great lengths to “connect the dots” integrating other pertinent databases (over two dozens various sources) to the U.S. Customs data toward the end of enabling their product to perform its singular objective more efficiently.
Their strength is also their corresponding weakness. The singular design and function of their product makes it perform less adequately than tools created by other TI providers. The best hammer for hammering ain’t going to work great as a saw or an axe. Try to chop down a tree with a hammer, even a really good hammer… and you are likely to get frustrated.
I will refrain, in conclusion, from bringing PIERS and PIERS products into the equation for contrast and comparison. Since half (3 of 6) of all their current products were developed by myself and my team, it becomes a rather narcissistic and self-aggrandizing exercise. Furthermore, there are plenty of other articles on this blog that highlight the relative strengths and features of their home-grown and evolved products as well as those acquired from my company, CenTradeX.
I have learned through this recent investigation that there is no such thing as “The Best TI Tool”. It all depends upon what you’re trying to do with the tool, your budget, your time, and what features you value most.