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News & Insights

News & Insights

Databases v. Reality

Updating an existing database (either CRM data or a data product) is a never-ending job that most people would like to avoid. We built Information Evolution primarily to address publishers’ need to keep on top of the shifting technology trends that can make this expensive and often thankless task as inexpensive, quick, and simple as possible.

Database owners can take two fundamentally different approaches to updates: direct primary source updating and data overlays. The former is more expensive and guarantees timeliness and accuracy. The latter

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is cheap and fast. We prefer primary source research to quickie overlays and here’s why.

Overlaying third-party data on your database has several thorny issues:

  • Is the database to which you are comparing your data as accurate as possible? This is unlikely for most B2B publishers who are usually the best sources of deep information on given industries. Also it implies that the overlaid data has an almost “God-like” level of accuracy. In other words, the data is an accurate reflection of “reality.”
  • What, really, is the provenance of the data you are overlaying? Large “God-like” databases are often the result of massive aggregations of information, each “chunk” of which has a different age and source. Some sources are murky at best and the result of a dubious harvest at worst.
  • What do you do with the results of an overlay? If you unilaterally accept every case where the overlaid data is substantially different (and there are a lot of way to define that) then the process is indeed quick. But did you just overwrite a newer record with old data? There’s no way to know without accurate provenance information or primary research. And what about the non-matches? Do you just delete them?

In the end, IMHO, neither option is ideal. Monitoring and maintaining the data in real time needs to be the foundation of any data maintenance effort. This involves data harvesting and change detection via tools like Connotate and Enlyton.

Telephone verification is also still an essential part of the process. Adding new fields of data to company records during every time a primary source research effort can offset this expense. Bringing in another couple of contact names and emails, appending deeper info on the vendors that companies use, or adding social media presences for firms are all effective ways data owners can make updating both effective and profitable.

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