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Multimodal 2012 presentations

This week Trade Extensions hosted a series of briefings for the transport and logistics industries that took place during Multimodal 2012.  As ever, the presentations were well received and many thanks to the speakers and those of you who came along.  

For those of you who were unable to make it (and for that matter, those of you who did attend) the presentations from Cabot, Mars, Drewry, Herriot-Watt University and Labyrinth Consulting can be downloaded from the main site: Multimodal Presentations


Survey feedback recognizes platform's improved functionality

As many of you know we recently carried out a customer survey to give us an idea how you think we are doing and where you want us to improve. 

Firstly, thanks to those of you who did take part. We really appreciate you taking the time and effort so we thought the least we could do is share the feedback

We wanted to take as broad a look at ourselves as possible so we had respondents whose experience of the platform ranged from using it every week to those who may run projects once or twice a year. 

What was particularly pleasing was that the efforts we have been making to improve the functionality and overall usability of the platform have been well received.   Nine out of ten respondents told us they generally liked the overall design, layout and navigation of the platform.

faster navigation

A number went on to say that navigation has improved with short-cuts being added and menus being easier to locate.  In addition, functionality like project cloning has speeded up the process of initiating projects and the improvements we have made to the bidder interface has also been welcomed.

One area where we have always felt we are very strong is the platform’s integration with Excel.  Thankfully our users agree, with 90% citing our Excel integration was ‘positive’, and 25% ranking our Excel integration as extremely positive.

effective support

We always try to provide the support our users need, and while we know we can always improve it is encouraging that over 90% of respondents agreed that the support is effective.

One area we can improve regarding support is the information contained on our Wiki Help site.  While it’s encouraging that 70% of users use the Wiki and 80% of them agree that it is good for learning the basics about functionality, it is clear from the feedback that we need to ensure it is kept up-to-date and makes better use of examples and tutorials.

comprehensive and reliable scenario analysis

We pride ourselves that the scenario analyses performed is second to none and this is reflected in the feedback with 90% users reporting scenario analysis as comprehensive, well organized, and reliable.  However, it is clear we can improve by making it easier to use since 22% disagreed that scenario analysis was intuitive. This is always going to be a challenging area since we have to find a way to perform seriously complex calculations with a very easy to use interface. 

Other areas that we will be addressing in the coming months include improving reporting functionality and improving communication of allocations.  With the reports it seems that most users use the inbuilt templates to generate the bulk of the reports but these have to be ‘topped and tailed’ outside the platform to produce the final report. The feeling is that this ‘OK’ but we want to get to the ideal the situation where the report generated in the platform is formatted precisely how it is ultimately needed.  Techniques will also be improved for reporting available to communicate allocated results to suppliers.  

Also to be evaluated based on comments received will be the platform's messaging system, error message handling, and new version release processes. 

Overall it was an incredibly useful exercise for us, so once again thanks again to those taking part.  You can rest assured that we are taking onboard your feedback and addressing your concerns and notes for improvement.  If you have any specific queries feel free to raise them with us directly -


By Royal Appointment 


It is a great honour for us to announce that Trade Extensions’ founder and chairman has become a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA).  The Academy, one of Sweden’s Royal Academies, is the world’s oldest engineering sciences academy and was formed to recognise the importance of technical research alongside established academic research.

The Academy today is an arena for the exchange of knowledge and it has a longstanding tradition of clarifying the social and economic impact of new technology at national and global levels.

Arne has been invited to join the Academy's  I.T. division  and he becomes a member of a select group of less than 1000 people across the Academy’s 12 divisions.

The expertise that gained Arne membership to IVA is seen every day at Trade Extensions as he leads the development team.  And it is this expertise that means the Trade Extensions platform will continue to develop in line with the most current knowledge and science.

Congratulations Arne!


Dynamic solver capacity means limitless optimisation

Trade Extensions is moving its optimisation solver into the cloud to provide access to even more computational power and the ability to analyse more in parallel. The new functionality, going live in the second quarter of 2012, will mean limitless optimisation problems can be solved simultaneously so users can do more calculations and more detailed analyses in considerably shorter time. 

The original definition of ‘cloud computing’ is becoming diluted. What people used to call ASP was later renamed to SaaS, and now the same thing is labelled cloud computing. When we talk about cloud computing we emphasise the dynamics and the ability to scale with load, i.e. our customers’ demand. What we are now implementing is a ground-breaking system that will scale with our growing number of clients.

Trade Extensions, Chief Technical Officer, Mattias Willman   

The new premium service can be used by everyone if they need the capacity but it will be especially useful for companies regularly running multiple projects and they will see the benefits in time saving immediately. 

Having static resources is a bit like many customers having a few shared printer and sending multiple documents to print – they have to wait for all the documents to be printed in turn. Using Trade Extensions’ new services is like having a limitless number of printers where everything can be printed in parallel. Moving optimisation to the cloud is not just a technical breakthrough and we believe it will change our clients’ views on analysis and optimisation.

Trade Extensions, Chief Scientist, Fredrik Ygge 

In recent months customers have been using the platform for challenges that go Beyond Sourcing™  nd it has been used in projects as diverse as supply chain design and production planning.  By moving optimisation into the cloud it is expected these types of projects will become more frequent as users discover how the platform can be used in different and creative ways.

Read the official announcement on the Trade Extensions website - here.


Efficient sourcing is the same in any language - Release 5.9 goes live

We continue to update our platform to make it as efficient and intuitive as possible and the latest release is now live.  Here are some of the highlights:

We’ve expanded our language capabilities by adding Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese.  It means, in addition to these languages, the platform can be configured for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Chinese and Russian.

There is increased flexibility on ‘bid types’ and it is now possible to define multiple bid fields on the same item.   For example, if you want offers for Freight Collect or Freight Prepaid on the same item you only have to define a single ‘lot’ and invite separate bids. Clearly it’s not limited to shipping costs and can be anything you choose – supplier location or simple colour variants.  

We have added ‘bulk upload’ so zip files can be uploaded and unzipped automatically.  In addition, new ‘bulk download’ functionality means it’s possible to select multiple files and download as a single zip file.

On a more technical level, the formula validation process has also been improved to avoid run-time errors during formula evaluation.  We have also improved filtering in the bidding interface so it possible to search and filter columns using a drop down menu.

It is all good stuff and you can be sure we will continue developing to ensure our users get the most out of our platform.  Contact us if you would like any more details.