What’s More Important: The Data or the Algorithm?

2014-10-01 12.38.42 At Oracle OpenWorld yesterday, Oracle GVP & GM Omar Tawakol posed an interesting question: What’s more important, having better data or better algorithms?

The question harkens back to Netflix’s $1m challenge in 2009, an open competition to create the best collaborative filtering algorithm for predicting movie ratings. The two panelists at the session, called Data as a Service (DaaS) for Sales: Driving Competitive Advantage with Data to B2B Applications, had no trouble answering the question.

“Without a doubt, the data is more important,” said Niraj Deo, Sr. Director, Product Management for Oracle Data Cloud.

When it comes to finding and closing business opportunities, having the correct information is critical. Otherwise, you’re looking at wasted time, conflicting results and worse, the wrong conclusions. Companies that are moving toward data-driven decision-making have a huge question to answer for themselves: How much do they trust their data?

2014-10-01 11.38.40The greatest algorithm in the world that has lousy input is going to have lousy output,” said Mike Sabin, EVP & GM of D&B Global Alliances & Partnerships, not to put too fine a point on the problem.

The conversation took place in light of Oracle’s announcement this week of its Oracle DaaS for Sales, in which they offer companies to license D&B data through its cloud service.

“There are a lot of reasons to have an independent license model,” said Oracle’s Tawakol. “You can get a huge amount of data from different sources. In sales, there are a lot of things you need to know: Who should I be targeting, in terms of corporations and contacts, how can I reach them, which products are the right products, and how should I prioritize my funnel?

D&B aggregates data from multiple outside sources, including transactional, social and user-generated like customer experiences and trade experiences. User-generated data can expose important factors like trends over time, how a business operates, its risk profile and propensity profile, Sabin said. Then, D&B triangulates and validates new data fields against its massive commercial database of 230+ million businesses. It can also link professional contact data to users’ social handles.

Linking to social data is a huge opportunity – both to more comprehensively identify customers and prospects, and to provide structure to unstructured data so it can be analyzed and mined for business insights.

“There are multiple nodes in this identification: social to email, email to cookie, cookie to device, device to IP address,” said Tawakol. “We’re really excited about what that capability means.”

But all the social data in the world isn’t going to solve problems on its own. The key to providing value is using data insights to trigger actions, Sabin said. And that’s a much larger conversation.

Posted in Big Data, Data Quality, Strategic Partners by Judy DeMocker

Judy DeMocker is Editor-in-Chief of D&B's Partner blog

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