In the first post in this series, I provided a general update on Panjiva's latest release as well as some of the traction they've realized lately in the market. In my view, for any company wanting an easy means to search for new global suppliers based on what customers an organization is already doing business with -- not to mention the risk profile they present -- Panjiva is a no-brainer solution to employ. Josh Green, Panjiva's CEO, shared with Spend Matters that the three most common use cases for Panjiva search are when users either have a specific country in mind (and want to do a supplier search), when they have a US customer in mind and they're conducting supplier intelligence, or when users have a specific product in mind, and they're looking for potential regions, sources and current trade intelligence. But how does the latest version work in practice?
We monkeyed around with the tool in the office yesterday with the types of queries we would have used in past lives -- if the solution was previously available -- when we were actively engaged in global sourcing on a regular basis. As an example, we were curious about Visteon's suppliers of plastic injection molded parts and components (a search we would conduct if we were searching for global component suppliers for a Visteon competitor). We were able to zero in within a minute on a handful of Chinese suppliers that Visteon either had steadily ramped production with or maintained at a steady state (versus rationalized out of its portfolio). In another search in the electronics arena, we pinpointed a number of LCD/monitor suppliers to well-known high-tech companies that had seen a marked decrease in volume in recent months and were put on Panjiva's "Watch List" of suppliers that may pose an increased risk.
Our search queries/use cases for Panjiva are essentially similar to the ones that Josh believes his customers are using the tool for. In his words, "I think the primary use of Panjiva at this point is around short-listing suppliers -- identifying suppliers based on a specific profile that you want to do business with (e.g., those who are working with a competitor and increasing overall export volume)." But Josh points out that customers are also using the information to better understand the risk that potential global suppliers pose as well (based on both Panjiva export trend data as well as local financial enrichment data such as Sinosure in China).
With the new search interface, the entire Panjiva process is easier and, in our view, more idiot proof (for sourcing idiots like us who are trying to do ten things at once and are used to how Google corrects mistakes for us). As Josh puts it, the new user experience/search capability "now makes it hard to have a negative experience using the service" the first time out, even for users who have no idea what they're doing. Aside from Rearden Commerce, we're not aware of another provider in this sector whose toolset has such an intuitive search and browse capability for the first-time user. If only all of the other source-to-pay tools that we review and work with could have such a similar philosophy!