Bureau van Dijk Orbis Enhancements

Bureau van Dijk announced a series of enhancements to their Orbis company research and financial analysis platform.  New or enhanced features include financial transparency, customization, batch search, improved navigation, expanded searching, and the addition of Moody’s research.

As ever, we’re creating, incorporating and rolling out features and functionality on the new Orbis interface all the time.  Each enhancement is intended to help make sure that you can take full advantage of our rich, structured data in order to carry out your research processes as efficiently and effectively as possible.

  • Bureau van Dijk CMO Louise Green

Bureau van Dijk added custom variables that are available in books (reports), chapters, an searches.  Users may also create custom books and chapters.

BvD Orbis improved-navigation-of-booksUI enhancements include improved book navigation so that users can move between chapters more easily; batch searching of company names by pasting a list of company names into the name search; expanded searching of ownership structures; free-text searching of notes; and enhanced viewing and filtering of corporate directors and advisors.  Directors are now sorted by department and filterable by role, seniority, and data source.

Users can now click on financial values to see the underlying calculations.

New premium content includes research from Moody’s Analytics spanning 9,000 company and 7,500 industry reports.  Both public and private companies and banks are covered.  The reports may be purchased using BvD credits on a pay-per-view basis.  In September, Moody’s rating announcements will be added to the service.  Other company research sources include MarketLine, Morningstar, and GlobalData.  MarketLine also provides industry market research to Bureau van Dijk products.

Finally, Bureau van Dijk added a new tax explorer premium service which flags “entities in low-tax jurisdictions.”

Bureau van Dijk also released a set of enhancements in April including original documents from aRMadillo.


Moody’s is in the midst of acquiring Bureau van Dijk.  The transaction is expected to close this month.  Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel said he “looks forward to further extending Moody’s position as a leader in risk data and analytical insight.”  The firm has already received EU Merger Regulation approval from the European Commission.

DueDil KYC for Business

UK business information vendor DueDil partnered with CallCredit Information Group for an enhanced KYC (Know Your Customer) service.  The new API service provides real-time access to company, director, and beneficial ownership data to expedite onboarding and financial compliance.

“This service provides a one-stop-shop for a business’s identification and verification needs,” said Alan Golob, CallCredit Data Solutions Director.  “By combining Callcredit’s data, industry knowledge and first line support capabilities with DueDil’s data and development expertise, we’ve created a service that will fully integrate into a client’s system or work as a standalone tool.  Advancements in regulatory requirements have caused many businesses to reassess their processes and checks, and this solution answers this need.”

DueDil covers forty million European companies across nine countries with plans to expand across all of Europe.

“Compliance is not only a regulatory requirement, it is the heart of every resilient business,” said DueDil CEO Damian Kimmelman.  “This can only be achieved by having a true and comprehensive profile of the customers that you are dealing with. Customers of our new service will have the comfort of knowing that they can make KYC checks in a simple, automated way through a platform which is underpinned by one of Europe’s largest company information sources.  Enhanced due diligence checks should form part of a balanced risk-based approach and can help organisations assess customers and meet regulatory requirements.”

Ignite Technologies Acquires FirstRain

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FirstRain Coverage of Lattice Engines includes web volume, business influencers, market drivers, Twitter trends, recent stories, related topics, and subject filtering.

Ignite Technologies will be acquiring news analytics vendor FirstRain as part of a pre-negotiated, Chapter 11 corporate reorganization.  The acquisition is expected to close by the end of July subject to court approval.  The acquisition is being funded by Ignite’s parent company, ESW Capital.

FirstRain provides a set of company-specific insights and analytics derived from news, press releases, filings, Twitter, and other open web content sets.  FirstRain applies a high-precision taxonomy to the “business web” which spans companies, industries, geographies, and business topics.  For the past few years, FirstRain has been the source of company and industry news for Dun & Bradstreet (Hoovers Classic, First Research, D&B Direct, and D&B 360), Mergent, and other OEM partners.  FirstRain also provides integrated solutions on Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Microsoft SharePoint.

FirstRain Who to Call Panel.
The FirstRain Who to Call Panel provides insights on which accounts have Deal Threats and Accelerators, Reasons to Check In, or New Information.

“FirstRain’s leading-edge, analytics technology providing actionable insights for its clients’ sales and marketing teams strengthens Ignite’s portfolio of sales and marketing solutions,” said Ignite’s CEO Davin Cushman. “Additionally, with the close of the FirstRain acquisition, Ignite will be materially expanding our foundation of sales and marketing solutions that Chief Marketing and Chief Revenue Officers can depend on to drive their business.”

Once the acquisition closes, FirstRain will be part of the Ignite Prime product offering which provides access to enterprise software by simply paying a maintenance fee on at least one Ignite standard solution.

“Ignite has a proven track record of buying, strengthening and growing the companies it acquires, and FirstRain is excited about the potential for our world-class teams to carry the FirstRain solutions and customers forward,” said YY Lee, Chief Executive Officer of FirstRain. “Through this acquisition, Ignite’s foundation of success and innovative programs, including their unique Ignite Prime program, extends the value proposition even further for FirstRain customers, now and into the future.”

Unique Company Identifiers

Amazon Family Tree (Source: D&B Hoovers)
Amazon Family Tree (Source: D&B Hoovers)

Associating company records with a common identifier is critical for Account Based Marketing as well as other sales and marketing methodologies.  Lacking a common identifier makes it difficult to

  • De-duplicate company records
  • Associate subsidiaries and branches with headquarters
  • Perform both real-time and batch data enrichment of firmographic, technographic, and social links.
  • Associate company news and sales triggers to key accounts.
  • Tie together company records across multiple platforms.
  • Assess the risk (e.g. credit, supplier, reputational) associated with a business.

The importance of a “unique identifier” was discussed by Owler CEO Jim Fowler in the Harvard Business Review:

The best way to keep data clean is to use a globally known, unique identifier, or a “data backbone.” My company prefers to use URLs as identifiers. They’re free, globally recognizable, high-quality data points that enable you to efficiently gather information on a business’s industry, online activities, and functionality. For example, Cisco is a company that also goes by Cisco Systems, Inc. and Cisco Precision Tools. If sales containers required users to type in one unique URL, http://www.cisco.com/ for all those different branches, it’d be much more difficult to create duplicate accounts, which helps keep data clean. Perhaps more important, URLs facilitate communication between people, systems, and even departments. Whether it’s the customer relationship management platforms used by sales teams, enterprise resource planning software used by purchasing teams, or the account-based marketing technology employed by marketing teams, the business intelligence platform can recognize a unique URL and attach it to clean, usable data. Unique identifiers let you know you’re pulling from the sources and contacts you’ve intended to track.

I agree with 90% of what Fowler states, but disagree with his recommendation that URLs are the best unique identifier for his “data backbone”.  There are a number of reasons that URLs fall short:

  • URLs are not persistent.  If a company is acquired or renames itself, the old identifier (URL) is not retained.  This creates a potential disconnect between the old and new name.
  • URLs have a many-to-one mapping which treats most subsidiary and branch locations the same as the headquarters.  For some companies, mashing together all locations into a single record may be sufficient, but it is a highly flawed approach as it loses much of the nuance concerning companies that operate across multiple sectors and countries (e.g. General Electric).  It also makes it very difficult for sales reps to sell deeper into an organization which lacks linkage data.
  • Conversely, companies with multiple URLs are not tied together.  This could happen due to differing country identifiers (e.g. .UK, .FR), division names, brand names, and subsidiaries.  Each of these scenarios treats companies as a separate business.  Amazon has many distinct businesses including Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com), Zappos (www.zappos.com), Alexa Internet (www.alexa.com) Audible (www.audible.com), Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and soon Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com).  URLs do not provide a consistent data backbone when subsidiaries, acquisitions, and branches have different domains.
  • When a division or facility is divested, there is no way to determine which locations have been spun off.
  • Franchises are treated as part of the parent company when they are separate legal entities.
  • Not all companies have websites.
  • URLs can be sold.  They can also be reused if a company goes out of business or abandons a URL.

Finally, business decisions related to logistics, credit, supplier risk, and financing need to understand the underlying structure of companies.  It is not just marketing and sales that are impacted by standardizing on a non-persistent, quasi-unique identifier.

I would therefore recommend looking at credit data companies as a better source of unique identifiers.  Companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, and Infogroup all offer location level detail and linkage associated with unique identifiers that have been developed over multiple decades.  They offer sophisticated entity matching and enrichment tools such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Optimizer service. Furthermore, these firms support multiple functions across the organization helping assist with cross-platform entity linking and on-demand decisioning.

Bureau van Dijk Document Retrieval (aRMadillo)

Orbis provides global original filings.
Orbis provides original filings from 200 countries.

Earlier this quarter, Bureau van Dijk announced that it integrated aRMadillo’s original document ordering system into their Orbis platform.  Documents are available from over 1,000 registries spanning 200 countries.

Original document research is important for compliance, legal, and anti-corruption research. Sourcing original images from official registries helps safeguard against forgeries.

Registered filings include

  • Registry extracts
  • Incorporation documents
  • Articles of association
  • Accounts
  • Annual returns
  • Directors’ appointments
  • Shareholder
  • Registered agents

“All of our documents are sourced directly from official sources – where they physically scan the original documents – so you can be sure of their provenance,”  said aRMadillo CEO Manny Cohen.

While filing is centralized in the UK (Companies House), it is split across fifty states in the US, 32 jurisdictions in Mexico, and 28 in Brazil.  “People assume that because it’s so simple here [in the UK], it must be as easy elsewhere,” said Medina. “It isn’t.”

Mattermark: Dataset Growth and Enhancements

Mattermark rolled out a set of enhancements to their product and content over the past few months.  The PE/VC funding data firm added Revenue Range and Zip Code to company profiles delivered via Mattermark Pro, Mattermark API, and their recently released AppExchange connector.   Mattermark now supports over 80 variables.

The Old Growth Score (Blue) was based upon historical growth data. The New Growth Score (Blue) is limited to the past 12 weeks.
The Old Growth Score (Blue) was based upon historical growth data. The New Growth Score (Blue) is limited to the past 12 weeks.

Mattermark also revised its Growth Score.  Previously, the firm evaluated the Growth Score over the company’s lifetime, which resulted in the ongoing display of Uber, Accenture, Amazon, and Google.  The new model employs a rolling twelve-week score which “better captures the dynamic changes over time,” said Marketing Manager Nick Frost.  “By reducing the span by which we calculate the Growth Score, our customers have a better representation of a company’s activity.”

Mattermark has been actively growing its company database, hitting four million profiles in February.  The firm continues to add missing firmographics.  For example, they added location data for 300K companies and industry tags for 700K companies.  Most profile vendors require these fields prior to publication.

Quora: How do I obtain the necessary information for a B2B competitive analysis?

I answered the above question on Quora, but I thought it was worth posting the answer on my blog as well.

B2B is a broad category, so I will be providing a high-level process:

  • Start with the open web — the company website, corporate blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.
  • Jump to the LinkedIn and Twitter pages of key executives.
  • Continue with third-party review sites such as TrustRadius, G2 Crowd, Glass Door, and Quora. Also compare web (Alexa, SimilarWeb) and social media activity (Owler) of the company vs. its top competitors.
  • If a US public company, obtain their 10-K, 10-Q, Annual Report, Proxy, and 8-Ks. Also, review all material on their investor page and look for Fair Disclosure Earnings Transcripts (Seeking Alpha, NASDAQ), investor presentations, financial models, etc.
  • If a US or global public, analyst reports are often available subject to a one week embargo. Vendors with analyst reports include D&B Hoovers, Factiva, Zacks, FactSet, Capital IQ, and Investext. Reports with fewer than five pages tend to only look at the stock, and provide little in the way of detail. Particularly good are the Initiating Coverage reports as they often entail an overview of the business.
  • If a US or global public, review the synopsis of material events going back over a decade. Significant Developments are available from Reuters, Factiva (Reuters), D&B Hoovers (Reuters), Capital IQ, and FactSet.
  • If a European private, they are likely to have filed financials, directors, and shareholdings with a local registry. You can obtain these through D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk Orbis, or local registries.
  • Major companies are profiled by MarketLine and Global Data. Check to see if they or key competitors are profiled. Industry vendors also profile companies and products within their target segments.  These profiles include SWOTs, company histories, market shares, and overviews of key products and segments.
  • Determine the firm’s list of competitors. If it is a public company they will list this in a proxy. If it is a private company, refer to Hoovers, Global Data, or Marketline.
  • If you are looking for technology employed, refer to Datanyze, HG Data, BuiltWith, DiscoverOrg, or RainKing.
  • Review all news for the company. The open web thins out quickly, so you are best off using an archival service such as Factiva or LexisNexis
  • For Intellectual Property and Legal, use LexisNexis or Westlaw. You can also search the USPTO site for trademarks and patents.
  • Check research from industry vendors. Most focus on only one or a few sectors (e.g. Gartner, Forrester, and IDC for Hardware and Software). A few provide higher level market overviews at the country or global level which include national or regional market shares, forecasts, and mini-profiles of the top 3-4 competitors in the market:
    • MarketLine (country and global)
    • Euromonitor (country or global)
    • BMI (Emerging Markets)
    • Freedonia (US)
    • IBISWorld (US, China, Australia, Global)
  • A few US industries are required to file with state or federal agencies. These include banks (FDIC), insurance (states), and nonprofits (990 forms with the IRS).
  • Larger companies file ERISA forms (5500s) annually with the Department of Labor. This filing covers benefit plans so is useful for direct research on a company and plan advisors. Judy Diamond offers a freemium service (FreeErisa) for ERISA filings.
  • If the firm has PE or VC funding, refer to Crunchbase, DataFox, Mattermark, PrivCo, or other vendors that collect this detail. Crunchbase and Owler provide this information for free.
  • Setup news alerts on the company and competitor you are evaluating. This can be done via Owler, Contify, InsideView, D&B Hoovers, Factiva, and LexisNexis.
  • Obtain a credit report (D&B, Experian, or local credit company if overseas)
  • Research the company family tree and review major subsidiaries and recent acquisitions. Global Family Trees are available from D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk, and InsideView (parents and subs only). Public companies also list their subsidiaries in their 10-K (Note 21).
  • M&A research can be performed with Zephyr (Bureau van Dijk), Mattermark, FactSet, Capital IQ, and other vendors.

This is a quick overview for secondary research.  For primary research, reach out to customers, partners, and former employees.  They can be identified via Case Studies (generally fans so don’t be overly reliant on them), customer references on site, TrustRadius, G2 Crowd.  Former employees can be determined via LinkedIn.  Partners are generally listed on the company website.

One area that is particularly difficult to obtain is pricing data.  Some B2Bs are transparent while others publish virtually no details, particularly if they have complex product lines and pricing.  Don’t be surprised if you find little in this area beyond “Pricing begins in the five digits” for many vendors.  Pricing details may require primary research and this will provide data points, but not full price lists.

If you are performing regular competitive analysis work, consider joining SCIP (Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals).

Feel free to add additional tips in the comments.