Years before founding Glowlit, I got my start in the industry working for a local distributor of animal feed. In those days, I would chart my route before visiting customers using one of those foldable maps that could be purchased at any gas station. Mapquest and TomTom had already been out for a few years, but I rather enjoyed charting my visits on a physical map. Plus, I found that those early digital maps often included routes with roads that were closed or through high traffic areas. I preferred a simple map coupled with my own knowledge of the roads. Then came Waze, and with it came a revolution in navigation.
Waze collects information from a community of users, some contribute actively by reporting street closures or traffic incidents while others contribute passively just by using the app. Waze collects data on a number of factors such as speed, direction, and number of cars. All of this contributes to a more accurate map, with navigation that takes into account what is actually happening on the road, and is updated in real-time to reflect changes to those circumstances. My gas station maps never stood a chance against the power of Waze.
I thought a lot about Waze when I first considered how market intelligence could better reflect what is actually happening in the industry. For many years market intelligence has required hiring experts to collect information from a list of trusted partners. These market reporters – given finite time and resources – would gravitate toward interviewing the largest buyers and sellers across the industry. This gave published reports higher validity in terms of the market share being reported on, but meant that local distributors and buyers were unlikely to be included. These reports were outdated by the time they were published, but valued for their historical data. And they often presented a self-confirming view of the market to the same large industry players being interviewed.
When we set out to redesign market intelligence, we started with a single guiding principle: gather data from the entire supply chain, and make data available to the entire supply chain. Why? Because volatility comes from both sides, it can be driven by supply as much as demand. Both the 300 KG user and the 30,000 Tons user contribute data that is equally valuable in our eyes. Both inputs are needed to capture a comprehensive view of the market, and to conduct more advanced predictive analytics. Waze gave us the perfect analogy for revolutionizing the way that market intelligence is done, and a map for how to get there.
Founder and CEO of Glowlit.com