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Magazines > Information Today > November 2004
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Information Today

Vol. 21 No. 10 — November 2004

INTERVIEW with Raymond Butkus
Donnelley Leverages OneSource Acquisition
By Paula Hane

The Donnelley Group of infoUSA comprises nine companies offering consumer and business information solutions for online and offline promotions, acquisition and retention marketing, and sales. Companies include Donnelley Marketing, Yesmail, Walter Karl, and other specialty services providers. In June 2004, infoUSA acquired OneSource and has been integrating it within The Donnelley Group family. I talked recently with Raymond Butkus, president of infoUSA's Donnelley Group, about the company and product synergies, its plans for new content and products, and trends in the industry.

Q: You have extensive sales and marketing expertise in both consumer and business markets and came to Donnelley 2 years ago. Bringing you in looks like a good move by infoUSA. What drew you to the company and this job?

A: Thank you, I appreciate the comment. I'd been aware of infoUSA and Donnelley Marketing and had used their products for many years. We licensed the Donnelley consumer file when I was with Naviant, a company I co-founded. When I was with AT&T, I was involved in a business marketing segmentation project where we were specifically targeting mid-markets, so I became aware of infoUSA and its database (which at that point was called ABI, the American Business Information file). So, I already had a great deal of respect for the company, its products, and the management of the company.

I have a background that caused me to understand sales and marketing from both sides of the desk—both the client and vendor sides. I've also run marketing communications, which included advertising, promotions, direct mail, etc. So, I've been confronted with many of the problems that our clients have—keeping customer lists clean and actionable, doing meaningful segmentation and analyses on customer data, acquiring prospect information, and developing profiles of best customers so that models can be developed and overlaid on a prospect universe. I have an appreciation of what our customers go through.

Q: Let's talk about the benefits and synergies that the acquisition of OneSource and the integration into The Donnelley Group bring for infoUSA.

A: It's an acquisition that we feel extremely bullish about. We are delighted to bring OneSource into The Donnelley Group and the infoUSA family of companies for several reasons. First, we think there's a natural synergy between the information content and information services that Donnelley provides to its clients, which are typically used for marketing purposes, and the information resources that OneSource brings to its clients, which are typically used for sales and research purposes. In most companies, sales and marketing are allied organizations and usually report to the same senior executive.

Second is the products themselves. Within Donnelley we have idEXEC, a company purchased from Thomson in 2001, which is a mini-version of OneSource—providing executive and company profiles—but its focus is more on marketing information. We were keenly aware of OneSource and very impressed by the quality of the OneSource products, both at the mid-market level with Business Browser and the high-end products, the Synergy Solutions and Catalyst Modules. idEXEC tends to be more of what I call a "go and get" product—you want information about a company or executive and you go and get it. Many of the OneSource products that are used by sophisticated clients are embedded into CRM and other applications. So, again, this was a natural fit.

The third reason is that there is not a great deal of overlap in the clients for Donnelly and OneSource—some, but not much. The Donnelley clients tend to be clustered in technology, telecommunications, financial services, and retail banking. OneSource clients, while there are some technology clients, are clustered in accounting, professional services, and investment banking. The ability to cross-sell was also very appealing.

Q: I understand that the OneSource products include content from rival D&B, and that the plan is to replace this content with idEXEC content and other infoUSA data. Can you provide an update on that process and how it will affect customers?

A: The plan is to first replace the international information in OneSource with alternate information. We have completed nearly all of the license agreements in Europe and the Far East to enable complete replacement of the D&B data. The sources that we have found are superior in every case in both numbers—that is, counts of executives and companies—and quality. The D&B content swap will be a great blessing for our customers. We will be conducting a client event in the U.K. on Nov. 4 at which we will announce the new data source providers and brief our clients on the new content that will start to appear in March 2005.

The second step of our content replacement is for domestic data. That will take place on a phased basis between September 2005 and March 2006. The D&B domestic data will be replaced by infoUSA data. I should point out that the original source data provider to OneSource was infoUSA (the ABI product). The D&B content has only been there for about 4 years, so this is, in effect, going back to the roots of the data.

For customers, this is very good news—the data sources will be superior, the counts higher, and the quality will be better. We've already previewed this for some of our European clients, and every one said they believe the alternate suppliers' data are superior.

Q: You have stressed data quality and accuracy. In the past, I know infoUSA commissioned some studies that compared its data to others and specifically to D&B. Tell us about your quality control procedures.

A: An audit was recently completed by Creighton University's Joe Ricketts Center in Electronic Commerce and Database Marketing that studied the data quality of the five main providers of consumer information. infoUSA and the Donnelley file, specifically, came out at the top of that audit. But, on the question of quality of our business data, we provide data compiled specifically for marketing purposes. We are not a credit bureau where providing data for marketing is an afterthought. We pay close attention to providing the most complete coverage, to accuracy, and to recency—how current the information is. If you take a snapshot of our database of some 14 million companies, about 80 percent of it changes every year—this could be an address change, phone number change, executive change, etc. Every piece of information on every record in the business database is reviewed at least once a year, and some businesses are reviewed more frequently. It's a continuous process.

By the way, we are the only original compiler of this type of information that has an in-house business research compilation facility. We have 600 business researchers on the phone at our facility in Omaha, Neb. Every other company in this business does this on an outsourced basis, or they don't do it at all. Every one of the companies we list is contacted by a telephone researcher—and that's really the "secret sauce" that contributes to the incredible accuracy of infoUSA business data.

Q: Donnelley now covers a broad range of markets for its products. Would you talk about your strategies for different markets and the resulting pricing variations for Donnelley content?

A: Yes, The Donnelley Group of companies serves a wide variety of vertical market segments, but, in addition to that, we also have a variety of distribution channels. We sell directly via a contact sales force. For small businesses we have an outbound telesales channel and a Web channel. We also sell via re-marketers through a wholesale channel. Whenever you have multiple distribution channels there are going to be pricing dissimilarities. It's true in every industry I've been involved in. We also license data to many of the search engines (for example, Yahoo! Finance and the Yahoo! business yellow pages), to other data providers and online services, and to many news services.

Q: The OneSource Business Browser products have been targeted and priced at the high end. What about plans for lower-priced derivative offerings that would aim at more of the low and mid-markets—maybe competing in the Hoover's space?

A: Yes, we plan to introduce a product in the first quarter 2005 called OneSource Express [Editor's Note: This is the working name for the product.] that will combine the best of idEXEC and the best of Business Browser. It will be priced competitively with Hoover's. This will be the first entry into this low-end market by OneSource. We think it will be clear, both for features/functions and for content, that it's a superior product to Hoover's. I don't want to pre-announce this, so I can't give you more details at this time.

Q: What trends are you observing in the tools available to sales and marketing professionals, such as analytics and other work-flow tools?

A: There's no question that, at the high end of the market, there's a clear trend of embedding information within the context of applications on the user's desktop—this is here to stay and it's growing in importance. It's somewhat less significant at the mid-markets and not a big deal yet at the small business market.

Trend two is maybe the Holy Grail of sales and marketing professionals. It's not so much about the quantity of content, it's about the relevance and "actionability" of the content. Our Insight modules for OneSource Business Browser, which will be released in the fourth quarter [Editor’s Note: These were announced on Oct. 18.], are targeted to address that specific trend—namely, that research and analyst professionals have less time to spend on the grunt work of digging up information at the same time as organizations are placing greater importance on having the information. Therefore, the information provider that can distill information and put it into a usable context will win—and we think we have achieved just that with our Executive Insight and Company Insight modules. So, those are the two megatrends that I think are driving the industry.

Q: It's the acquisition of OneSource that actually brings the sophisticated wraparound tools to infoUSA, which were lacking with its databases, correct?

A: I should have mentioned this as a fourth benefit of the OneSource acquisition, as it clearly was on our minds. We have not provided information in an applications context the way OneSource does. The ability to embed infoUSA data into the applications context of the OneSource tools was highly appealing to us.

Q: Besides the new content deals and replacement of the D&B data, what are your plans for The Donnelley Group for 2005?

A: We will put a greater emphasis on interbusiness-unit cross-selling, in other words, introducing users of one or two products of The Donnelley Group to a broader array of products and capabilities. This is high on our priority list for 2005. Second, we will work on greater integration of the products themselves, such as integrating Donnelley Market Zone (an analytic product) with Yesmail products. (Yesmail is an e-mail marketing service platform.) Third, we will be enriching and improving our data content itself—more data sources, deeper insights in consumer and lifestyle information, greater emphasis on new businesses and start-ups, and more executive profile information.

Q: I noticed that infoUSA recently announced a product called FindUSA, an investigative database for identity verification and screening. Is this a new product and market for the company?

A: This is a product derived from the core consumer infoUSA database and tweaked for investigative purposes. This is a market that we have not historically been strong in, but it is one in which we have seen a growing interest from our customers.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge you face as a company?

A: Like all information providers who deal in consumer information, we must always be mindful of consumer privacy. While it might not be the most significant challenge we face, it's among the most significant. Protecting consumer and business customer data is absolutely critical and becoming more so, given recent regulations and laws—Do Not Call, CAN-SPAM, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, California Senate Bill 1. These are all examples requiring that marketers who use information must be concerned with the protection of consumer privacy.

Q: So, how are you dealing with this? Are you filtering who can access consumer data and for what purpose?

A: This could be another interview topic just in itself. We rigorously comply with the Direct Marketing Association's guidelines for data protection and privacy—this covers things like data compilation processes, access to information, data security, rights of usage, ability to change data, etc. It's a wide and comprehensive policy.

We have also, for the last 4 years, sponsored the Donnelley Marketing Information Privacy Forum in Aspen, Colo., at which industry experts help clients understand the complex issues around this topic. In 2004, in addition to such keynote speakers as Tom Peters, Martha Rogers, and Bill Clinton, we had seven round-table discussions, one of which was on privacy in the media and featured a panel of journalists. Join us next year to see firsthand what this conference is all about.

(NewsBreak on the OneSource acquisition)

Paula J. Hane is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is
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