August 2017 | Commentary | IT Matters

Global Trade Content: Unlocking the Supply Chain Value

Tags: Logistics I.T., Global Logistics, Import, Export, Technology

Ken Wood is EVP Product Management, Descartes Systems Group, 212-398-9680

New Content-as-a-Service solutions deliver content that exists outside an organization. This outside-in perspective is spurring companies to find new value to make supply chain planning and execution inherently more intelligent—especially when it comes to global trade.

Content solutions can, for example, help companies properly classify goods to ensure compliance while minimizing duties and tariffs; research, analyze, and act on import/export movements, trade regulations, and market trends; and reduce the risk of transacting business with denied parties.

In many cases, companies manually research and store this type of information, but few have the resources to stay on top of business and regulatory environments in constant flux.

Central Point of Access

As companies expand product lines and geographies, the intersection of trade content and item compliance is central to an overall compliance program. One big advantage content solutions offer is that they function as a central point of access to a vast amount of country- and territory-specific data on trade regulations, rulings, duties, and taxes.

Having timely access to this type of up-to-date and accurate information allows compliance professionals, multinational shippers, and multimodal carriers to better meet the reasonable care standards of international customs agencies, and to better support classification determinations in the event of a customs audit.

Supply chain participants are increasingly seeking big data content and insight solutions for analyzing global logistics trends and activity. Solutions that collect, cleanse, and commercialize import/export trade data offer this type of intelligence, which companies can leverage for market research, sales insights, supply chain management, enhanced security, and competitive strategy.

Leading content tools today can cover more than 75 percent of the world's import/export trade with data sourced from the trading nations of the Americas, the EU, Asia, and Africa. Largely oriented toward ocean transportation, these systems can provide global visibility into shipments by vessel, into and out of a given country.

Such highly granular data requires a massive searchable database of shipment records, primarily gathered directly from official filings with global customs agencies and trade ministries. The depth of information varies by country.

Put Content to Use

Companies use this veritable warehouse of detailed, timely, and authoritative content in many ways. They can refine sourcing strategies by identifying and prequalifying alternative suppliers of key raw materials; evaluate growth strategies by gauging supply and demand for their products; add supply chain resilience; and simplify trade data research.

Global trade and transportation practices are often manual and complex to manage. Moreover, many overarching factors, including the growing number of participants in companies' global supply chains and changing customs and regulatory requirements, exacerbate these complexities.

As the logistics and supply chain management disciplines continue to evolve, integrating external content is becoming more valuable for companies seeking more automation and real-time control over their supply chain planning and execution functions.