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.

 

Boardroom Insiders CxO Bios

Boardroom Insiders AppExchange Profiles
Boardroom Insiders AppExchange Profiles

While most sales intelligence vendors focus on broad coverage, there are several that continue to generate value the old-fashioned way through editorial research focused on high value content sets.  Firms in this category include technology vendors DiscoverOrg and RainKing and industry overview provider First Research.  Another editorially-focused vendor is Boardroom Insiders, founded by Sharon Gillenwater and Lee Demby.  Gillenwater, who was a marketing consultant, realized that several of her key accounts were struggling with CIO-level discussions.  In 2010, she partnered with Demby, the co-founder of First Research (acquired by Dun & Bradstreet / Hoover’s in 2007), to create a C-level executive information service.

“Most companies spend too much time worrying about getting customer contact info and not enough time thinking about what they are going to say to these customers once they get in touch with them,” said Gillenwater.  “While having the right contact info is important, it is useless if you don’t have a strategy for making yourself relevant to the person on the other end of the phone.”

Boardroom Insiders provides deep biographical profiles of C-level executives.  They cover the CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO, and COO of the Fortune 500 along with additional top executives requested by their customer base.  In total, Boardroom Insiders publishes 13,000 rich biographies for 3,000 US and international companies.  A team of fifteen editors (ten full-time) research and update their bios.  All of the editors have at least ten years of business journalism or management consulting experience.  While all of the material is editorially researched, executive changes and key events are monitored with just-in-time editorial updates performed.  Furthermore, if a profile has not been touched in six months, a user can request that it be immediately refreshed.  They also retain a pool of in-flux biographies for executives that may be in transition, allowing Boardroom Insiders to quickly revive and update profiles when a high-level executive resurfaces.

Included with subscriptions are credits towards the creation of additional biographies, providing users with on demand professional research.  For requests of up to ten executives, the firm turns around new bios in two business days.

Content is derived from the open web with a focus on earnings calls, executive interviews, and industry articles.  LinkedIn is also employed as a resource, but depth of content varies greatly and executives are often slow to update profiles after departing firms.  What’s more, LinkedIn lacks insights into executive biases, interests, and passions.  Finally, LinkedIn does not contain a broader view of the executive’s division and corporate environment.

“LinkedIn is an essential tool, but the profiles are unpredictable, limited in strategic insight, and biased,” said Gillenwater.  “Boardroom Insiders is rich with strategic insight, unbiased, and provides the full professional story of the key decision maker you are calling on.”

Executive biographies run two to seven pages and contain

  • Headshot
  • Last Updated Date
  • Current Company, Title, Location, Phone, and Email.  The phone may be either a switchboard or direct dial.
  • Social Media Links (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
  • An Executive Summary
  • Personal Attributes and Interests – Family status, interests and hobbies, business philosophy, awards, etc.
  • Current Focus – Job responsibilities, corporate strategy
  • Key Challenges
  • Biographical Highlights
  • Other Boards and Organizations

Executives can be looked up directly, by company name, or via prospecting.  Prospecting is not as robust as large database competitors, but includes F500, Keyword, Title, CxO Function, Industry (NAICS major and minor categories), Alma Mater, etc.  Keyword searching should be particularly effective due to the depth of their profiles.

Search results are downloadable as PDFs.

The Boardroom Insiders service offers email alerts for individuals and companies.  Users are notified when an executive profile for a tracked company or executive is updated.  Company alerts are also sent when new executive profiles are available at tracked companies.

Users may access the service via browsers or a single-sign-on integration with Salesforce.com.  Within SFDC, there is a find button on Accounts, Contacts, Leads, and Opportunities.  Boardroom Insiders displays biographies or biography lists within the Salesforce frame.

Boardroom Insiders offers an API based upon the JSON protocol.  Clients can use the API to feed information into their corporate data lakes or create custom solutions.

Users span four job functions targeting the C-Suite:

  • Marketers (e.g. field marketers, ABM programs, engagement teams, executive sponsorship programs)
  • Executive recruiters
  • Management consultants
  • Strategic sales (enterprise sales reps and account teams).

The firm has many clients in the technology sector.

Pricing is subscription based with annual contracts beginning around $10,000 and enterprise contracts reaching $250,000.  An SMB account would include three seats and 25 to 50 profile requests.

SalesTech Landscape

Snippet of SalesTech Super Graphic developed by Nancy Nardin of Smart Selling Tools.
Snippet of SalesTech graphic developed by Nancy Nardin (Smart Selling Tools).

Yesterday, I wrote about the recently released MarTech Landscape.  While SalesTech isn’t as large, it is also receiving significant funding.  Nancy Nardin, of Smart Selling Tools, published her SalesTech Landscape spanning more than 400 firms.  As it is a first generation edition, there are a number of errors and omissions.  The most glaring gap I spotted was the Installed Tech Stack category which was missing  RainKing, Datanyze, Aberdeen, D&B Hoovers, and Corporate360, but I’m sure she will receive plenty of feedback to fill gaps.

In fact, she is maintaining the graphic and is already up to 1.2a.

If you want more details on the companies in these sections:

  • Database Cleanse & Append
  • Lead/Lists Building
  • Outreach Email Workflow
  • Installed Tech Stack
  • Sales Personalization/Trigger Events/Social Selling

Feel free to reach out to me for my Market Insights Newsletter and market research.  If you are looking for quick profiles of companies, check out CabinetM which focuses on Martech but also covers a fair number of SalesTech firms.

CabinetM helps modern marketing teams build, manage and optimize their marketing technology suite in a rapidly transforming digital marketing environment. The platform enables full lifecycle support around digital tool discovery, qualification, implementation and management by individual marketers, teams, and throughout enterprise organizations.

  • CabinetM About Us

Moody’s Acquires Bureau van Dijk

Moody’s announced this morning that they are acquiring business intelligence vendor Bureau van Dijk for €3.0 billion (approximately $3.27 billion). Moody’s stated that “the acquisition extends Moody’s position as a leader in risk data and analytical insight.”  The deal is subject to EU approval and is expected to close in Q3.

Bureau van Dijk will be acquired with approximately $1.3 billion in offshore cash and $2 billion in debt.  Bureau van Dijk will be folded into Moody’s Analytics’ Research, Data & Analytics (RD&A).

Last year, Bureau van Dijk earned $281 million (€258 million) and posted and EBITDA of $144 million (€132 million).  Bureau van Dijk has a ten-year Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR ) of 9.3%.  The firm anticipates $45 million of annual revenue and expense synergies by 2019 and $80 million by 2021.

Source: Moody's Investor Site (May 15 2017)
Source: Moody’s Investor Site (May 15 2017)

Bureau van Dijk offers three major product lines:

  • Orbis – Financial analysis tools spanning 220 million companies.  Information includes firmographics, public and private company financials, original documents, global family trees, shareholdings, news, and M&A research (Zephyr).  Orbis provides the deepest set of global private company financial coverage tied to very strong linkage data including minority shareholdings.  Orbis was redesigned last year with a new user interface and workflows.  The Orbis product line is also available as regional and local products such as Amadeus in Europe, Oriana in AsiaPac, and Fame in the UK.
  • Mint – Sales intelligence product line
  • Catalyst – Set of workflow tools for valuation, transfer pricing, credit analysis, wallet sizing, etc.

All three product lines leverage the Orbis global company file which is collected from 160 information partners.

“Bureau van Dijk is a high growth information aggregator and distributor that positions Moody’s at the center of a unique network of global risk data,” said Raymond McDaniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Moody’s. “This acquisition provides significant opportunities for Moody’s Analytics to offer complementary products, create new risk solutions and extend its reach to new and evolving market segments.”

The Bureau van Dijk customer base is split fairly evenly across 6,000 financial institutions, professional service firms, government authorities, and corporations.  Key use cases include compliance, KYC/AML, risk decisioning, purchasing, transfer pricing, B2B sales and marketing, financial analysis, and economic research.

Source: Moody's Investor Site (May 15 2017)
Source: Moody’s Investor Site (May 15 2017)

Moody’s listed a three-pronged product strategy post-acquisition:

  • Apply MA analytics to data to generate off-the-shelf financial metrics

  • Package BvD data subscriptions with MA analytical software & models

  • Enrich MIS/MA data sets with BvD’s proprietary identifiers

Moody’s will also be looking to extend Bureau van Dijk’s commercial presence beyond Europe and to non-financial customers.  The acquisition helps Moody’s extend its addressable market beyond credit to provide “Moody’s-branded scores/assessments for tax risk, transfer pricing, compliance, financial crime, [and] supply chain management.”

“Moody’s is a highly regarded, authoritative source of credit ratings and analytical tools, with a strong brand and global reach,” said Mark Schwerzel, Deputy CEO of Bureau van Dijk. “The addition of Bureau van Dijk’s powerful information platform to Moody’s Analytics’ suite of risk management solutions presents a wide range of opportunities for us to better serve our combined customer base.”

Bureau van Dijk has been owned by a series of private equity firms with EQT acquiring the firm from Charterhouse Capital Partners in September 2014.  At the time, the sale price was not disclosed.  Charterhouse acquired Bureau van Dijk in 2011 from BC Partners for €960m.

EQT noted the following areas of investment during its ownership period:

  • Development of the organisational structure to prepare for further growth

  • Investments in the sales organization, including the introduction of a matrix sales structure, implementation of a global CRM system, and expansion of the salesforce

  • Strong focus on the development of new products and continued improvement of existing ones, e.g. the launch of a new user interface

  • Substantial investments in marketing and corporate branding