A Few of My Favorite (Research) Gems

In the second part of our upcoming book, Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals: Research, Process, and Resources, Kelly Barner and I provide listings of recommended resources to use when researching specific direct or indirect markets and spend categories. These include resources ranging from open access (free) to expensive fee-based subscriptions and everything in-between. The amount of high quality resources available for supply market intelligence research is impressive and mind numbing. When researching the book, certain resources were revealed to be hidden gems. They are gems because they provide generous amounts of helpful information and are open access – free! The ones offering large amounts of data are nicely organized and fairly easy to navigate. Here are a few of my random favorites:


A Passion for Research Blog
Professor and founder of Software Strategies Research, Louis Columbus, writes this excellent blog that focuses on CRM, cloud computing, ERP, and enterprise software. Columbus writes posts that are analytical, and filled with statistics and graphs. His “Roundup” posts on free cloud computing online courses, cloud computing forecasts, and cloud computing and enterprise software predictions are particularly helpful in understanding those topics. The Cloud Learning Center is full of ebooks, infographics, presentations, and videos. The Cloud Computing Index tracks various company stock prices over time. His latest posts have focused on 3D printing skills and market forecasts.

Coface Country Risks Assessments
Coface, a provider of trade credit insurance, freely provides 160 frequently updated country evaluations based on macroeconomic, financial, and political data.

globalEDGE Country Insights
globalEDGE is maintained by the International Business Center at Michigan State University. The globalEDGE Country Insights page shows statistical data for over 200 countries, in addition to historical, economic, and political conditions. The Country Comparator tool and the Country Rankings tool, which has an interactive map, are nice features.

This source provides U.S. Government resources to assist businesses with their international sales strategies. Topic areas you can access include: Export Finance, Trade Data, NAFTA Certificate, “Doing Business In” Guides, HS Codes, Tariffs and Taxes, Export Controls and Licenses, and Trade Complaints and Advocacy. The Market Research section starts you off with a Step-by-Step process for performing market research. The Market Research Library contains overviews on doing business in more than 120 countries and profiles of 110 industry sectors; the latest trade data by country, state, commodity, year and more; and webinars about new market and industry information.

United States Department of State—Key Publications
This page provides links to key U.S. State Department publications that include: Bilateral Relations Factsheets, which focus on U.S. relations with each country; and Country Reports on Terrorism, Human Rights, Religious Freedom, and Trafficking in Persons.

U.S. Grains Council
The U.S. Grains Council “develops export markets for U.S. barley, corn, grain sorghum and related products” and there is a voluminous amount of information at this site. The Key Issues segment includes these categories: Trade Policy, Biotechnology, Grain Supply and Demand, Value of Trade, and Food Security. The Buying/Selling section contains export and production data, “How To Buy” Importer Manuals and Notice to Exporters, and lists of suppliers and exporters for the Corn, Sorghum, Barley, DDGS, and Corn Gluten sectors. Market Data includes FOB (Freight on Board) Reference Prices, Bulk Freight Indices for HSS (Heavy Grain, Sorghum, and Soybeans), DDGS (Distiller’s Dried Grains with Solubles) Price Indicators, FOB Price Comparisons, Top U.S. Export Customers, and CBOT Market Quotes. The weekly Market Perspectives provides current coarse grain markets information including price, weather and freight information for buying U.S. grains.

Understanding Dairy Markets
This website of the University of Wisconsin Dairy Marketing and Risk Management Program, is maintained by Professor Brian W. Gould of the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics. The tagline states “Your Source for Market Information and Price Risk Management Principles.” There is an abundance of statistical information at this site. The Dairy Data section provides comprehensive links to information on prices, production, sales and consumption, stocks, supply and disposition, daily futures and options, trade data, and state summaries, to name a few. The Dairy Situation section features outlook and demand reports. The Dairy Risk Analyzer provides software tools and information for Dairy Risk Management strategies.

World Bank Commodities Markets
The World Bank monitors energy, metals, precious metals, agriculture and fertilizers commodity markets. Monthly prices (the Pink Sheet) are published at the beginning of each month. Price forecasts for the next 10 years are published on a quarterly basis. A comprehensive review of commodity markets is published four times a year; January, April, July, and October.

Contingent Workforce Index Global Analysis
The Contingent Workforce Index (CWI), by TAPFIN/ManpowerGroup, compares local labor markets around the globe, and measures the likelihood of identifying and accessing contingent workers. Countries are ranked in descending order by availability, cost, regulation, and productivity of contingent workers.

Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine that provides fact-based answers to queries. It does not search the web, but uses its own data and algorithms. In the search box on the homepage, click on the “Examples” option to get an idea of how Wolfram Alpha can be used. For chemicals, examples show how to ask about elements, compounds, quantities, solutions, reactions, thermodynamics, formulas, and functional groups. You can also get historical prices on selected chemicals. Even though this resource is listed in the Chemicals chapter and is especially strong in this area, it is also useful for background information for the metals, energy, agriculture, plastics, and logistics markets/categories.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is the foremost source for comprehensive historical and current energy data. National and international statistics are provided for Petroleum, Natural Gas, Coal, Electricity, Nuclear, and Renewable/Alternative Energy. The Short Term Energy Outlook provides pricing and analysis reports for global and U.S. petroleum, as well as other liquids, natural gas, coal, electricity, renewables, CO2 emissions, and U.S. economic assumptions. Other popular reports are Annual Energy Outlook, International Energy Outlook, Weekly Petroleum Status Report, Natural Gas Weekly Update, and Electric Power Monthly. Daily wholesale and retail prices for various energy products are shown at http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/prices.cfm, including spot prices and select futures prices at national or regional levels.

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