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Business decisions based less on trust and more on truth

Dun & Bradstreet, a business information data company that provides business credit reports, has over 330 million business records on its Data Cloud. Andy Crisp tells Toni Sekinah about his observation having completed 20 years in at Dun & Bradstreet and what it means to ‘own’ data at the company.
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He began working at Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) in UK telemarketing sales in 2000 and after a series of other positions including delivery project manager and EU data strategy leader, he is now global data owner.

He said: “I’ve been with Dun & Bradstreet for 20 years and in that time there’s been a huge shift. We’ve gone through many cycles, the whole big data revolution and now the continuing rise of turning that data into more actionable insights with the use of artificial intelligence and many other new technologies. It’s been fantastic.”

“We want to be good custodians of the data.”

Although ‘owner’ is part of his job title, he was sure to emphasise that his position is not about owning data but rather taking responsibility for it. “We want to be good custodians of the data that we’re bringing in house and be good stewards of the data,” he said.

“We keep a finger on the pulse of the everchanging, dynamic data landscape.”

He explained as global data owner, he and his team have four key objectives. The first is to keep a finger on the pulse of the “everchanging, dynamic data landscape” to stay aware of the new datasets that become available, which he admits is an enormous task.

The second is objective is to have a good understanding of the data they do have as they ingest tens of thousands of data producing millions of data points. This involves collaborating with the operations and data quality teams to create more robust KPIs and performance metrics to understand the impact of that data on their customers.

The third objective is closely related to data governance to see how the data performs to the set benchmarks. This is to make sure that they are meeting their customers’ expectations.

The final objective is about understanding the data needs. Crisp said this involves answering the following questions. “What are the client needs? What are the product needs? What data do we need to ingest, acquire or adapt to make sure we are meeting those ever-changing needs?”

Truth and facts are very important to the clients of D&B as the data company’s products include business credit reports to enable clients to do their due diligence and check the creditworthiness of potential business partners. Crisp broke down Dun & Bradstreet’s offerings to clients into three areas; risk, marketing and compliance.

In terms of risk, D&B identifies that a company or entity actually exists, through discovery using the Secretary of State in the US and Companies House in the UK, and other registries globally. The D&B collects payment performance information to see if a company pays their bills and invoices promptly. This is to identify a potential risk of delinquency or risk of failure of a business. The data that D&B collects that is interesting from a marketing point of view is profiling data, digital data, web visitor information. In terms of compliance, D&B assesses public records, official documents and KYC requirements.

D&B has adapted to the shift of more companies to operate on digital platforms and so can gather data on both bigger, more traditional business as well as web-based businesses. For the latter, Crisp and his team look at a company’s virtual or digital identity, website traffic numbers and size of web presence.

“Everyone wants good actionable data.”

In his view, the appetite for data has grown over the years with business discussions carried out by leaders and the C-suite now centred around both internal and external data. “Everyone wants good actionable data and to point their finger at the facts,” he said.

Crisp said that business decision-makers are much less likely to take information at face value nowadays and instead want concrete evidence to inform their decisions. “I hear a lot at the moment about a move from trust to truth. They want to see the numbers and get real confidence from the data that they are going in the right direction,” he said.

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