In the business to business sales world, D&B is a well-known and highly regarded company that has been monitoring and evaluating business profiles, credit, payment performance and a variety of other business aspects for over an impressive 172 years. Over the past 20 years I have heard about D&B information when working with finance groups. Personally I was not deeply aware of D&B services until launching my business. Now I can’t imagine operating a business without this invaluable information source!

There are a few reasons why you may want to review D&B for getting detailed company information. I rely on D&B Business Credit Reports for reviewing prospect company financial health, vendor payment performance history, recent trends and legal records prior to making contractual commitments since I often extend business-to-business credit. Other reasons for checking a company’s D&B profile may include interviewing for a new job, prioritizing incoming leads or supplementing your customer master data for reporting or analytics.  D&B company profile data provides insight that company employees may not even know themselves.

D&B Power Query

In addition to company credit and profile reports, D&B recently added data services. They offer a variety of APIs and OData feeds for integration in applications, ETL processes or even queried from new Excel Power Query. You can combine D&B data services with your existing data to provide a current, validated view of a business using proven matching techniques and continuously updated data. Here are a few fun facts about available D&B data services:

  • 90% of Fortune 500 companies are D&B customers
  • D&B data spans across 238 countries around the world
  • Over 5 million business entity records updated daily

Playing with Trial D&B Data

Probably the easiest and fastest way to review available D&B data is to pull in a few datasets with Excel 2013 Power Query, Alteryx or another self-service ETL tool. For example to qualify new prospects, you could cross-reference an Excel list of collected company names and with D&B Business Verification data. The D&B service is available in Apps for Office. In the Excel 2013 menu, go to Insert > Store, search for D&B and then add the D&B app you want to evaluate.

Office Web App

In my example, I chose Business Verification. By simply copying and pasting a list of company names and addresses into the nice D&B provided Excel templates, I was able to validate the company details that I collected in a recent free webinar. Often people will enter fake information but quite a few do enter valid data. I could have alternatively used Excel Power Query for the same information. In Excel Power Query, I could call have used Windows Azure Marketplace that now includes D&B OData feed APIs for business name, DUNS number and Firmographic information.

D&B Excel Template

Another common use case for D&B data is for data quality services projects. Match, verify and grade the accuracy of company data with D&B Company Cleanse APIs in SQL Server Data Quality Services, Integration Services, Visual Studio and even any OData client like Excel Power Query. D&B grades are determined by choosing the best company match given eleven components for business name, address, telephone and industry code. Match grade patterns are supplemented with a confidence code interval from 1 to 10. Apply Confidence Codes to programmatically divide results for automating data cleansing or validating data entry processes to ensure correct information is being saved. I have seen numerous, tedious, time consuming ETL projects to de-duplicate and cleanse dirty Dynamics, Salesforce or other CRM customer records for business intelligence data mart or reporting projects. Those kinds of data cleansing projects could have been avoided altogether if a validated cross-reference data source had been implemented into business application processes.

Where to Get More Information

If you’d like to evaluate D&B, check out the Company Profile and Credit Reports or available data services. If you are interested in learning how to use the APIs and OData feeds, the amazing Lynn Langit has a collection of excellent getting started videos on her YouTube channel.