Think Data First, Platform Second – Why Data Fuels MDM



As the volume of data coming into organizations – from both internal and external sources – continues to grow and makes its way across departmental systems in many different formats, there is a critical need to create a single, holistic view of the key data entities in common use across the enterprise. Master Data Management (MDM) aims to accomplish this goal. Not surprisingly, MDM has become a significant priority for global enterprises, with the market expected to triple from $9.4B to $26.8B by 2020 according to analysts.

But while everyone is investing serious cash into the tools to manage the data, few are putting any thought into the data itself. This is akin to purchasing a luxury sports car and fueling it with water. Sure it looks great, but it won’t get you very far.


The underlying concept of MDM is surprisingly simple: get everyone “on the same page” looking at the same data and ensure it is accurate. Yet, master data and its management continue to be a universal challenge across many industries.  Organizations of all shapes and sizes share similar problems related to master data and can all reap benefits from solving them. That means concentrating on the quality of the data before going shopping for the sexiest MDM platform. In essence, you must master data before you can manage it. Ensuring the quality, structure, and integrability is your responsibility; your MDM platform won’t do that for you. It’s like purchasing a top-of-the-line oven and expecting it to produce a delectable meal. You are responsible for what goes into it.

Master Data Defined

Master Data is the foundational information on customers, vendors and prospect that must be shared across all internal systems, applications, and processes in order for your commercial data, transactional reporting, and business activity to be optimized and accurate. Because individual businesses and departments have a need to plan, execute, monitor and analyze these common entities, multiple versions of the same data can reside in separate departmental systems. This results in disparate data, which is difficult to integrate across functions and quite costly to manage in terms of resources and IT development. Cross-channel initiatives, buying and planning, merger and acquisition activity, and content management all create new data silos. Major strategic endeavors, part of any business intelligence strategy, can be hampered or derailed if fundamental master data is not in place. In reality, master data is the only way to connect multiple systems and processes both internally and externally.

Master data is the most important data you have.  It’s about the products you make and services you provide, the customers you sell to and the the vendors you buy from. It is the basis of your business and commercial relationship. A primary focus area should be your ability to define your foundational master data elements, (entities, hierarchies and types) and then the data that is needed (both to be mastered and to be accessible) to meet your business objective. If you focus on this before worrying about the solution, you’ll be on the right course for driving success with MDM. Always remember, think data first and platform second.

Three Options for Data Delivery

dnbDirectboxData is the fuel that fires profitability. But what’s the best way to access this energy source? The rise of Data as a Service (DaaS) is transforming data delivery, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for every business.

Think about it this way. You’re installing a new heating system in your house. If you opt for an oil heater, a truck will come every so often to fill your tank. That’s like traditional batch data delivery. If you decide on a gas-powered furnace, your energy feed will be piped in directly—automatically, in real time. That’s like DaaS.

Like DaaS, gas has many advantages. When you need more fuel, it flows seamlessly into your furnace. No need to monitor fuel levels, order refills or wait at home for the delivery truck to arrive.

Sounds great, right? But it doesn’t mean gas is right for every home. Maybe it’s not worth spending your hard-earned cash to replace a perfectly good oil furnace — one that keeps everyone warm at night. Or maybe a gas hookup isn’t even an option on where you live.

At D&B, we let you choose the best way for your business to tap into the data fuel you need.

Hoover’s: Power Marketing and Sales with an Easy, Budget-Friendly Tool

Our web-based Hoover’s solution is the perfect introduction to D&B’s company data. It lets you tap into our vast reservoir of data via a simple, browser-based interface. It’s easy to quickly search for companies, build lists, conduct market research and more.

And you can do it all in just a few clicks—no implementation required. Benefits include:

  • Seamless sign-on to Hoover’s subscriber site
  • Plug-and-play data cleansing, analysis and more
  • Optimization for mobile sales prospecting
  • Customized news alerts, social media content and analytics

D&B360: Use D&B Data to Fuel Your CRM

With D&B360, we integrate your CRM data with our data. You can still search for companies, build lists and conduct market research. But now your data fuel is supercharged before it arrives, so you can safely inject it directly into your CRM engine. Unlike Hoover’s, D&B360 does require modest development resources at your end. But the payoff is big: Once IT has configured their system, future updates flow directly into your system. Benefits include:

  • Turn-key solution for Microsoft Dynamics, SAP and Oracle CRM systems
  • A single, complete view of customers and prospects
  • Targeted list-building tools
  • Relevant news, social media, contacts, financials and more right inside your CRM
  • Constant flow of fresh data with hands-free batch updates

D&B Direct: Real-time Data, Exactly How You Want It

Finally, we come to D&B Direct, a pure DaaS solution that delivers the latest data automatically, in real time. D&B Direct does require more development resources than D&B360. But once you set up the UI and logic, the possibilities are endless.

For instance, you can embed and tailor reliable company, contact and financial data within your company’s sales and marketing solutions. You can link online lead forms to D&B’s database in order to increase completion rates and the accuracy of prospect information. And you can identify corporate linkages to develop better growth, retention and compliance strategies and/or reduce loss rates.

Besides real-time delivery and continuous quality, you can:

  • Make forward-looking decisions by combining your data with D&B intelligence, social, news and more
  • Gain instant access to complete company firmographics, contact information and industry research
  • Illuminate corporate relationships and company activity with D&B D-U-N-S® Number
  • Build custom applications for any device, complete with automatic alerts, triggers and updates

Want to compare the three delivery methods? Check out How Do You Want Your Data Delivered?, and download the Fact Sheet to find out more.

Data as a Service: From Flat Files to Real-Time Insight

an_api_callTime is money. So, increasingly, is data. Here’s the catch: Data’s value actually ‘rusts’ over time. Consider this. Every 60 minutes, businesses are hit with an average 399 lawsuits, D&B research shows. In the same amount of time, 148 new businesses are started, while 9 file for bankruptcy—and that is just in the U.S. And as business processes continue to accelerate, data rusts faster and faster with each new quarter.

Yet many organizations still rely solely on data delivered in flat files via file transfer protocol (FTP). While this is appropriate for large-scale analyses, it’s no longer enough to compete effectively in a fast-changing, agile world. Because it’s difficult to make good decisions based on information that may be months – or quarters — out of date.

Here’s why. FTP is still a fantastic way to process multiple files quickly, in one pass. But configuring these transfers requires manually intervention. In other words, they take time, often a couple of weeks. As a result, many overworked IT departments limit updates to once a quarter, or even less frequently.

Turning on the Spigot

Enter Data as a Service (DaaS). It is the latest in the constantly expanding arena of ‘as a Service’ technologies. Like its popular cousin Software as a Service, DaaS enables delivery of content in real time via the cloud. Think of it as a constant stream of data — what you need, when you need it — rather than intermittent bucketful.

The D&B Direct 2.0 API is the engine that drives D&B Direct’s DaaS offerings. The API allows you to pour all kinds of business data—financial, supplier, customer, social—directly into business applications, in real time. Once you configure your initial API call logic in D&B Direct, you can receive ongoing updates instantly. No more latency periods for cleanup and integration. Meanwhile, you are sure records are clean from the moment they enter your systems.

In other words all fresh data, all the time. And the potential uses are almost as boundless as data itself.

  • Deal-making due diligence
  • Credit portfolio management and collections prioritization
  • Integrated financial decision-making
  • Compliance
  • Source-cost optimization, and supplier and distributor performance
  • Order management
  • Segmentation and targeting optimization
  • Advanced marketing automation and nurture
  • Social and digital intelligence
  • And many more

Keep the Baby and the Bathwater

Best of all, you can move your organization toward DaaS without forgoing the convenience of FTP transfers. For example, if you’re performing a system migration, flat files remain an ideal way to match and cleanse large volumes of records at once.

In fact, many D&B customers make a gradual transition to DaaS, using flat files for initial cleansing of large data sets, then keeping data fresh via continuous updates in real-time with D&B Direct. In other words, a fast and efficient way to give your teams the right data at the point of decision — whenever and wherever they need it.

Cloud-Based ERP Gains Ground

ERP-Enterprise-Software_shutterstock_180737201-560x371This blog post originally appeared on the Bizmology blog on Nov. 4, 2014.

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) software market has traditionally been dominated by Tier 1 vendors such as SAP and Oracle. However, the emergence of cloud-based, SaaS ERP applications has led to Tier 2 players making inroads through innovation and increased market share, which has resulted in fierce competition. Among the fastest-growing participants in the ERP space are Tier 2 players such as Workday and Workforce Software. Learn more about trends and opportunities in our new Enterprise Resource Planning Software industry profile.

Enterprise Resource Planning Software ($25 billion annual global revenue) is one of six new industry reports added by First Research editors in October. First Research has an ongoing process of adding new industry content; see my colleague Amy Schein’s recent post to learn about profiles added in September. First Research customers use our industry insight to better understand business in a given market.

Take a look at some of the trends, challenges, and opportunities from our newest profiles.

Accounting & Finance Software (U.S. is a large market)

Business Intelligence — Interest in business intelligence gives accounting and finance software vendors the opportunity to offer tools that can help customers collect and organize data and use it to improve their businesses. For example, clients may want to generate custom reports or dashboards incorporating financial metrics. Business intelligence and financial management software may be sold together or integrated into broader enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.

Asphalt Products Manufacturing ($22 billion annual U.S. revenue)

Roofing Material Trends — Asphalt shingles will remain the dominant roofing material in new residential construction. But the use of modified bitumens, which are reinforced sheets of glass fiber, polyester, and/or polyethylene that have been factory-coated into roll roofing, has grown rapidly. Metal roofing today is well-accepted in commercial buildings and becoming more common in residential structures. Energy-saving cool roofs, which use highly reflective materials instead of sun-absorbing black materials, are gaining popularity in some areas as well, creating competition for asphalt roofing product companies.

Database & File Management Software (U.S. is a large market)

NoSQL Development — Although relational data management remains the most prevalent model for databases, adoption of nonrelational, or NoSQL, databases is increasing. Proponents of NoSQL systems tout greater scalability and flexibility, easier administration, and less expensive hardware requirements compared to relational DBMS. Providers of relational DBMS, some of which also provide NoSQL products, argue that the models are complementary, and relational databases remain the preferred technology for applications such as transaction processing and large-scale data warehousing.

Diagnostic Substance Manufacturing ($13 billion annual U.S. revenue)

Infectious Disease Outbreaks — The use of diagnostic tests is a crucial time-saver in the effective management and containment of infectious disease outbreaks. Increased global cases of HIV, flu, and malaria during 2013 resulted in a 17 percent increase in sales of infectious disease tests for one major manufacturer. International aid organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation promote the use of point-of-care tests to monitor disease outbreaks in developing nations.

Multimedia, Graphics & Publishing Software ($15 billion global market)

Data Visualization Tools — As more content is published online and via social and mobile platforms, the use of charts, graphs, maps, and infographics is becoming a more popular way to present data. To meet demand for visual data, multimedia, graphics, and publishing software providers are developing new tools. Recent examples include ZingChart, a tool for building interactive Flash or HTML5 charts, and InstantAtlas, which enables the creation of visualizations around map data.

More about First Research

First Research now offers insight on more than 450 industries to help guide professionals in their business decisions. Profiles contain a comprehensive set of data in an easy-to-digest format. In a hurry? Our call-prep sheet is a popular way to quickly get up to speed on an industry.

Where can you find First Research content? Visit the First Research website and learn about getting a First Research add-on to a Hoover’s subscription or delivery via D&B CRM solutions.


DaaS Market to Take Off in 2015

DaaS2015Data as a Service (DaaS) is about to become a very big deal. According to a recent blog post by Forrester Research analyst Gene Leganza, Predictions for the Data Economy in 2015, the data economy is expected to surge forward in 2015.

DaaS has been maturing as a technology over the past 12 months. Now, according to a Forrester report, also titled Predictions for the Data Economy in 2015, data services will enter the mainstream as part of product and solution sales. Forrester Research clients can download the full report.

“The number of business and technology leaders telling us that external data is important to their business strategy has been growing rapidly — from one-third in 2012 to almost half in 2014,” Leganza wrote.

The report’s authors, Leganza, Jennifer Belissent and Fatemeh Khatibloo, make a second prediction: Data analysts and scientists will make more data, analysis and insights available by publishing APIs and streaming data through Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace.

Diving into the data economy comes with opportunity and challenges for businesses and consumers alike. People new to the field will need to ask all sorts of questions to understand what services are right for them, and how to get the most out of them. Still, we’re optimistic that this is just the start of a new era in which DaaS helps transforms business. Onward!

Image credit: Juhan Sonin

Come See Us at Oracle OpenWorld 2014

OOWboothpeopleD&B is charged up for this week’s Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. First, there’s our new partnership with Oracle. That work is coming to fruition quickly — Oracle announced today Oracle Data as a Service (DaaS) for Sales, a new Cloud component that includes D&B commercial content. Oracle’s goal? Meet its customers’ ongoing needs to qualify customers and improve the productivity of sales and marketing team members, for ultimate profitability.

Expect a lot of talk at the show about the potential of DaaS to improve data quality inside applications. We’ll also be participating in a Content Session with Oracle called Big Data and DaaS in Business-to-Business Applications. D&B’s General Manager and EVP of Partner Solutions, Mike Sabin, will be speaking alongside Oracle’s head of DaaS, Omar Tawakol, and Niraj Deo, Senior Director Oracle Cloud Product Management.

Make time in your schedule to listen in on the conversation: Wed. Oct 1 at 11:30am-12:15pm, Room 2002, Moscone West. And be sure to see Oracle’s demonstration center in Moscone West, 2nd floor to learn more about Oracle’s DaaS plans, and check out these other Oracle DaaS sessions.

Stop by the D&B booth in Moscone South, #1637 to see how D&B’s commercial data will flow into Oracle’s Cloud applications and see our early work with Oracle’s inhouse tool, Value Navigator.  We’ll also be giving away credit card-sized phone chargers and snacks. Don’t be shy! We’re always looking to have great conversations with folks interested in data quality.

D&B and Oracle Team Up to Enrich Cloud-based Business Apps

the_aucitronD&B is taking its new “outside-in” approach seriously, signing a strategic partnership agreement with Oracle that makes D&B data available to sales and marketing professionals through Oracle’s cloud-based Data as a Service for Business (Oracle DaaS for Business).

The combined solution is designed to create an ‘intelligent data layer’ — a way to add rich sources of third-party data, including D&B’s commercial business data, social media and professional contact information, to Oracle’s cloud-based applications.

The pre-integrated solution places the power directly in the hands of end users, enabling them to access data in native formats and to view high-quality data and insights within their application ecosystem. Using Oracle DaaS for Business with D&B data, companies can make headway on key strategic initiatives such as:

  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Omni-channel marketing
  • Gaining a 360-degree view of the customer
  • Sales optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Global data management

The combined solution will be offered first to Sales and Marketing Cloud customers and then will be extended to the full suite of Oracle DaaS applications.

Check out today’s press release to find out more about the strategic partnership between Oracle and D&B. If you’re heading to Oracle OpenWorld, stop by the D&B booth for a sneak peak of the new capabilities in Oracle DaaS for Business.

Image credit: Theaucitron


Data as a Service Comes of Age

Kastner_LukasD&B has been talking about Data as a Service (DaaS) for more than a year now. And we’re thrilled that more and more companies are embracing the concept.

Think about it. What makes more sense than cleaning and verifying the data that’s sitting in your data stores, as your teams use it? Better yet, it makes data management snarls invisible to end users – they just get accurate data about companies, contacts and customers, right in the applications they already use.

Research firm Ovum agrees with the DaaS model. In a white paper published this summer, Data-as-a-Service: The Next Step in the As-a-Service Journey, it calls DaaS the “instinctive next step in the evolution of as-a-service”.  With data volumes and complexity on the rise, the DaaS approach shields end users from IT complexity and offers easy-to-use, function-focused tools that deliver the true value of the data to the business user. A good DaaS solution can remedy significant data challenges, like a lack of common identifiers across data sources and low data quality, so data analysts can sidestep the noise and get to actionable insights. By decoupling data from applications, the DaaS model makes it possible to clean up data in any application, on any platform.

The time is right for DaaS to enter the limelight, for one reason: There is competitive advantage in data. Oracle knows it. Earlier this year, the company added DaaS as a “fourth pillar” to their foundation of the Oracle Cloud. So now they talk about SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and DaaS. You can read more about their vision on the Oracle DaaS microsite.

Through its partnerships, D&B has real-world DaaS solutions in the market today. Microsoft, Sugar, and Salesforce are all building momentum with their customers. Together, our companies can give end users access to better quality, squeaky clean data within CRM systems – saving them time, helping them build better relationships and creating happier customers. And that makes it a no-brainer as a valuable next step for any organization looking to bring data-driven methodologies to sales and marketing functions.

Image credit: Lukas Kastner

What’s a Data Marketplace, Anyway?

data marketplace

The term data marketplace has a broad meaning: It can be a destination platform, where end users can discover and shape, analyze and publish data. Or it can be a place where a Data as a Service (DaaS) publisher provides content to consumers.

A data marketplace gives context, life and visual appeal to data, as well as simplicity and ease of use. From a more technical perspective, a data marketplace can be a compute platform for processing data, information, analytics and insight for a variety of information sources. We call these workloads.

Until recently, the compute platform has been specifically aimed at one of several market domains.

  • Transactional or machine data, such as cash registers and factory sensors
  • Social data
  • Consumer data
  • Public data
  • Commercial data
  • Institutional knowledge, such as documents, Intellectual Property, presentations and reports

Today, these categories are beginning to blur, with plenty of new DaaS players entering the market. D&B, of course, fits in the commercial area best. Startups like D&B partner Fliptop provide social data and analytics. Other partners complement D&B’s offerings, such as Datamyne (trade, commerce and shipping), HDS (healthcare), Iridium (sales intelligence) and Profound (technology). Companies like GE Software and Siemens Transportation have been in the machine data business for years, analyzing machine and sensor data to optimize plant operations and run giant pieces of equipment. Institutional knowledge is the buried treasure: legal, contract, research and other documents, including Microsoft PowerPoint and Office files, stored in SharePoint, Dropbox and Documentum.

So those are the data types sold through data marketplaces. What about the marketplaces themselves? The big players are Microsoft Windows Azure Marketplace, InfoChimps, DataMarket, IBM ManyEyes and Google Public Data Explorer — and they typically sell to individuals and small and medium-sized businesses. Microsoft, and Oracle also sell data, catering to an installed base of enterprise customers.

So that’s just a start on the wide world of data marketplaces. It’s an area that is growing and changing rapidly. In my next post, I’ll look at the consumerization of data and the value of open APIs. Tune in find out more.