Archive for the ‘D&B’ Tag

D&B’s Data as a Service (Daas)

I attended a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) preview on their new DaaS product, D&B360 (Twitter account @DnB360). The basic concept is that a connection is established between your CRM database and their database to allow access to their demographic information. Company records in your database are then uploaded to their service where their software goes through an extended match process. The result is a screen that lists your matched contacts and their recommended match. The tool lets you scan up and down the candidate company’s family tree so you can select which one best matches with your knowledge of the client or prospect company. Once you select the match, D&B maintains the connection between the two records and will automatically update your data on a schedule you set.

We subscribe to D&B for the current manual process where we upload a file set to them and then they process the match and recertification process on their machines. And then a few days later we receive a file in return that we import into our database, updating our records. The benefit of D&B360 is that once the match link has been set, you do not have to touch that record again. It will always be current. And the process reduces the amount of resources we dedicate to the process quarterly to manage the export, import and subsequent reconciliation. So DaaS has great potential for any organization that’s either currently using D&B’s data, or for those that wanted to but don’t have the resources or expertise to develop the back-end processing necessary to integrate it manually.

A more strategic benefit is the future ability to tie other third party data into your CRM through D&B360. For example, let’s say you’re interested in the Fortune 1000 list. Your current option is to go to Fortune magazine’s website and print out a list of the companies. Then search through your data record-by-record to match up Fortune’s company list with the companies in your CRM; tagging those that match and adding new records for those you don’t already have. And if you did this process last year you’ll also need to identify those that dropped of the list so you can “un-tag” them in your data. But if D&B has already identified the companies in their data, which they have, you’ll be able have your records updated automatically, including those that have dropped, and add the ones you don’t have into your CRM. It can’t get much easier than that.

Obviously this represents a fantastic potential revenue stream for D&B. One they have the connection established to your CRM they can become the conduit to add meaningful data to your system, without the pain and suffering of a manual match process. But you benefit as well because now you can have access to data sets and demographic data that you couldn’t have before.

I am optimistically excited about the prospect of this product in my operation. But I also have some reservations or issues that I need to examine closely before I sign on the dotted line.

First issue is price. This was understandably not addressed at the group demo. Since DaaS changes the way in which we process data completely I am certain that the current pricing model becomes antiquated. My hope is that since this new approach to delivering data also improves the efficiencies on their side by eliminating the semi-manual batch match and recertification process, that the pricing will remain comparable or even less than what I pay now. They do have a significant upfront investment to recoup but I think they will experience stronger long term subscriptions as their service becomes tightly integrated with your CRM. And they have so much more opportunity to sell additional third-party data, like the Fortune 1000, that they didn’t have before. But we’ll see. I think over pricing the product would be a mistake as they’ll reduce their market penetration which will stifle the acceptance and growth.

Second issue is how much resources will I need to dedicate and what skills do we need. The phrase “80% out of the box” was used in describing how D&B360 integrates with specific CRMs and it’s up to the customer to build the remaining 20% using the CRMs API. Now that sound useful as it can potentially open up new possibilities for customizing your application. But it’s not clear yet what the real impact on my system will be. I need to learn what baseline features I would expect and need will require custom programming by someone in my organization. And do I have that resource or am I going to have to plan and budget for outside help. The upside is that there exists the opportunity to customize your CRM. For example, lets say I search for records in the DaaS cloud to identify a target market segment. I would then like to automatically pull those selected records into my CRM in a mailing list, updating those records that I already have and inserting those that I don’t have. I am positive this is not an “out of the box” feature but would be a very desirable.

I have more issues and questions, but it’s very early in the process yet as they have yet to officially announce that they will integrate with my CRM, InterAction. I am confident they will, especially if they want to sell into the legal market. Once they do and we start seeing one-on-one pre-sale demonstrations I’ll be in a better position to evaluate the service and how it can or cannot fit in our organization and what it will take to implement.

I’ll post more on this product as I learn more later in the year. And, as usual, I welcome and comments or feedback.