Filed Under B2B, Blog, data protection, Financial services, Industry Analysis, internet, news media, online advertising, Publishing, Reed Elsevier, social media, Thomson, Uncategorized, Workflow | 3 Comments
We are always told that a prime difference between the British and their American cousins is that the British “do” irony. So I find it really ironic that, after years of being told in this industry that the credit raters had an unchallengeable hold on their markets because of their unique aggregation skills (not, you will note, their analysis), a six month old start-up which aggregates and gives users free access is giving them holy terrors in the UK. The company is www.duedil.com (give it a transatlantic pronunciation to get the “doodle” moniker they obviously aimed for) and I cannot do better than quote its citation from the excellent news service of the Asia Pacific trade body, Business Information Industry Association (www.biia.com):
“Duedil is a new business information company that offers free financial information sourced from UK’s Companies House (Public Sector Information). It is so confident in the quality of its data, that it offers a £5 payment if one finds any discrepancies in its financials, no questions asked. The company was launched in April 2011 by Damian Kimmelman, owner of “We Are VI Ltd” and co-founder of Mackin Gaming. Duedil claims in its website to have the largest database of free company financials in the world! That is a tall order for an upstart that is only several months in operation. Duedil aggregates data from all over the web and bring this to users along-side information which it pays for. It says the information will correspond directly with the information found at Companies House delivering company financial statements, going back 10 years, with company histories, name changes, litigations, director lists, family graphs & more. According to Duedil, it is funded by Passion Capital, who is predominantly funded by the UK government. Other investors are some of the people behind Skype, LastFM, Yahoo!, AOL & QXL/Tradus, and was chosen as a Microsoft Bizspark company.”
This service is well worth a look. For one thing, the data presentation is good enough to seriously challenge the sector players, and for another the information collection is also hugely competitive. But the irony comes in the thought that a freemium model could be used to take a Trojan Horse right into the middle of the commercial credit rating encampment. Industry professionals rightly point out that Duedil would have to support a great deal of advertising to support such a service long term. But what if that is not the point at all. Instead, a cogent strategy here would concentrate on getting very high free usage levels, and all the time stretch those staid competitors by adding more and more Open Web derived content into the mix, so that the comparison was not with publicly available “official” content, but with the Duedil selection above and beyond that. Then, when you have the attention of the audience, you can begin to charge subscriptions for higher level activities: in-greater-depth analysis, time-elapsed reporting on watch lists, custom service applications for automated purchasing systems, social media-style buying clubs based on shared content with user groups etc. And when you get that second level market locked in, then you will be able to sell plenty of service advertising on the still-free core site.
The creators of DueDil have grasped a key point that the established market has long since conveniently forgotten. The market is all about the collection of commoditized data from the web, and there really is no defensible barrier to entry in that business. Insofar as credit scoring and the development of formulae for rating credit worthiness are concerned, the established industry is on safer ground, but as we used to say on the farm in my youth, if you try to sell potatoes with the dirt on them, you get rich for a while until people realize that clean potatoes cost no more, and are better value. Attempts to sell on openly available content as if it was an “answer” fits this case, and this is the bluff that DueDil calls. Soon, as in every other sector in every information market that I know, the players here those who seek survival will be heading up the value chain. Analytics, the application of Big Data principles and practice, the widespread integration of workflow modelling with third party strategic alliances – all of these are part of the future of a sector which we still call Credit and Business Information, but which we will increasingly come to see as whole web monitoring for business and personal performance.
And as that happens, so will consolidation become more interesting. Choicepoint and Lexis may have been an early sign. Both in the enterprize software solutions field and in the major B2B holdings there must be potential interest in those of the big sector players who add real value. But lets emphasize “value” again – DueDil have demonstrated that the value from pure data collection is negligible, and consolidators, especially if they are deeply into advanced taxonomic search and linked data, may find that smaller regional players in the existing industry have little to add. In the next play, much of their data will look as insignificant as the large and once much vaunted databases of the directory publishers do now.
In short, DueDil is a mouse that roared, and while the elephant of Big Credit is still in the room, he is trying to stand on the curtain rail!
(Declare an interest – I am currently chairman of BIIA – a powerhouse of industry discussion in Asia Pacific!)