Posts Tagged ‘ Data Lists ’

Data Brokers and the Driving Force behind the Data Economy



With all the talk of data out there, who is actually using it and what are they using?  Turns out, most data used in the enterprise today comes from internal applications. That is starting to change, and the trend will accelerate.  But for now, when asked which data types were important to their firm’s overall business strategy, the majority of business intelligence users and planners cited internal sources such as transactional data from corporate apps or other customer data. Only about 1/3 of respondents reported the importance of external sources such as scientific data, partner data or other 3rd party data.

Fewer still used unstructured external data such as Twitter feeds or other social media sources. Current data sources are limited.  Yet both business and IT decision-makers recognize the need to improve their use of data:  56% of business and IT decision-makers surveyed by Forrester see improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes as a top priority. And, that potentially includes expanding the use of external data… if they can find it.

Where do they go for external data?  What types of data might complement their transactional and other internal data? How can corporate strategists and market research teams identify new sources of information? Where can they find them, and how can they acquire and consume them? Can they be combined with internal data? Are the sources safe? reliable? sustainable?

We’re kicking off research here at Forrester that looks at data providers and enablers in the new data economy. Some are veterans of the data industry like Lexis Nexis  or Dunn & Bradstreet.  But others are new players who have entered the market to help facilitate the exchange and use of data.

For example, Enigma is a new search and discovery platform for public data – note they do not say “open data” but rather any data that is available to the public whether enterprise data, scientific data, academic data or open government data.  They describe the “public data paradox” in which data is out there and available but not accessible.  Public data remains in diverse formats – although that will slowly change with new government mandates for API access – and is not yet indexed and searchable.  As they put it “you are limited to the data you know about” and you can’t see the connections among different data sets.  At Enigma, they have built an infrastructure for acquiring, indexing and searching public data.  It makes it easy to find data on a particular subject, and most importantly find data sets you didn’t even know about. As they say, “a lot of people have been pioneering how we analyze the world with data” but what was missing was how to find that data.  They want to be the “Google” for public data.

Another example on my side of the pond is Data Publica. Like Enigma, they help businesses acquire data, yet with less emphasis on self-service or a “Google” approach.  Data Publica will help identify data sources, will extract and transform the raw data into a usable structure, and will deliver data as a service.  Delivery mechanisms range from dashboards and reports to data sets or streams, either as a one-off purchase or through subscription access.  Customer solutions include regional dashboards used to determine market opportunity and RFP notifications alerting potential bidders of a new request.  Small businesses who might not have the internal resources to watch the websites of multiple government agencies on a daily basis benefit from the RFP aggregation Data Publica provides by pulling data on public RFPs from over 100 sources.  Getting a timely alert that an RFP has been issued can be the key to winning the bid.

DataPublica also assists the other side of the equation, the producers/owners of public data.  In the City of Nantes, DataPublica provided guidance in the launch of the open data initiatives, advising on data structure, as well as the delivery of data through both visualizations and APIs.  Public organizations may produce data, but they face the perennial challenge of bringing it to market.

Given the skills shortages and difficulty in recruiting data expertise, enablers like Data Publica and Enigma are key to the development of the data economy. Stay tuned on more Forrester research on these enablers of the data economy.  Posted by Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

“Your Turnkey Solution to Leads and Data”


Is Data Your Stock in Trade?

If information is your stock in trade, FTC settlements with consumer reporting giant Equifax Information Services and San Diego-based Direct Lending Source merit your attention.  The cases are a timely reminder to businesses that when buying and selling data, it’s important to build legal compliance into your day-to-day operations.

Here’s what the FTC says happened.  For about a two-year period, Equifax sold Direct Lending and its affiliates lists of people who met selected criteria — prescreened lists. The criterion that got millions of people on those lists?  Being 30, 60, or 90 days late on their mortgage payments. The lists included other sensitive data, like people’s credit scores.  According to the complaint, Direct Lending turned around and sold the information to outfits that were peddling products and services targeting consumers struggling to stay afloat. The FTC says that some of those companies have been the subject of law enforcement actions centering on allegedly deceptive practices.

Is it illegal for consumer reporting agencies to sell prescreened lists and for other businesses to buy them?  No.  The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows companies like Equifax to furnish reports to those who have a “permissible purpose.” But under the law, the only permissible purpose for getting a prescreened list is to make a “firm offer of credit or insurance.” What about using prescreened lists to send marketing solicitations to people in financial distress? That’s not a permissible purpose.  The FCRA doesn’t allow prescreened lists to be sold for pure marketing purposes because there is no firm offer of credit and that’s why the FTC says both Equifax and Direct Lending violated the FCRA.

Among other allegations, the FTC’s complaint charges that Direct Lending — along with its affiliates and principals — violated the FCRA and the FTC Act by getting prescreened lists when it didn’t have a permissible purpose, by reselling reports without telling Equifax who was going to wind up with the info, by failing to maintain reasonable procedures to make sure the people they were selling to had a permissible purpose, and by failing to use appropriate measures to control access to sensitive consumer financial information.

What about Equifax’s involvement? In addition to charging that Equifax provided lists to companies that didn’t have a permissible purpose, the complaint alleges that it didn’t have appropriate procedures in place to prevent that from happening.  For example, according to the FTC, Equifax didn’t properly investigate when it found out that Direct Lending was violating Equifax’s own policies on prescreening.  The FTC also says that Equifax knew or should have known that Direct Lending was reselling the data without telling Equifax who was going to wind up with it — and yet Equifax continued selling prescreened lists to Direct Lending.  The complaint charges that Equifax’s failure to employ appropriate measures to control access to sensitive consumer information was an unfair practice, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

The settlement with Direct Lending, filed in federal court in California, imposes a $1.2 million civil penalty and puts provisions in place to protect consumers in the future.  Also named in that case are Bailey & Associates Advertising, Inc., Virtual Lending Source, LLC, Robert Bailey, and Linda Giordano.

The proposed administrative settlement with Equifax, which the FTC has published for public comment, includes a $393,000 payment.  Under the proposed order, Equifax will have to tighten up its procedures and make sure that before providing prescreened lists, the company has good reason to believe the people buying them have a “permissible purpose.”

The message to marketers? The Fair Credit Reporting Act puts limits on how companies can traffic in consumer information.  Consumer reporting agencies that want to keep their operations within the law understand the importance of keeping a close watch on who’s getting prescreened lists, what they’re doing with the data, and how it’s being handled downstream.