Is Your Data Ready?

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Through meeting with amazing companies doing amazing things, we see where the industry is headed and the level of innovation going on in our sector. Data meets analytics. Analytics meets decision-making. It’s now all embedded in software and magic happens.

I had the pleasure of sitting down recently with Harry Blount, CEO of DISCERN. They have built what Google does for images but for data. What I love about what they’ve done and are doing is they’ve created the holy grail for business decision-makers — the integration of internal data with free external data (think open web) combined with external licensed data. Further, they have options for users to license additional third-party data at point of use, creating doorways for vendors who want to control their data, but enabling access for users in keeping with their and third-party licensor needs. Wow.

At Outsell, we have been tracking and analyzing this industry for 20 years. In that time, I have seen enterprise customers want the holy grail. The refrain goes like this: “Please let me integrate my data with your data and with other people’s data, so we can make the decisions we must make with the right data, at the right place and at the right time.” Sound familiar?

This is the first platform I have seen that actually makes this work. It is agnostic and has a visual front end rather than boring row after row of text strings … so yesterday. This platform … so now. I can show you diagrams from reports Outsell wrote in the 90s for heaven’s sake, which points to the need for this type of integration. It only took 20 years and near obliteration by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the other big platforms for the technology to catch up and our industry’s innovators to rise to the occasion to meet this need. DISCERN has a really interesting solution and opportunity in front of them.

Now, what I love most about them is the learning they’ve applied to vendors to ensure their data is ready for integration. I’ve written about “your data being ugly but no one wanting to tell you.” We spoke about this at Outsell’s DataMoney. We hear every day that data isn’t fit for purpose, and we hear how “backwater” legacy information and data company architectures are. So, with the DISCERN platform comes Harry’s rules for Data Readiness. They are learned from experience, and they are relevant for anyone because he wrote them for one of the hardest customer segments to serve — financial services, which always leads the way in our industry. So, if your data is ready for a company on Wall Street, it’s ready for just about anyone.

Checklist for Marketing Data to Wall Street Quantamentalists:

1. Has the data been sold for financial securities decision-making before?

2. What securities (bonds, stocks, commodities), geographies (US, World, Europe, etc.), sectors (11 GICS or 134 sub-GICS) can the data be used to enhance investment or lending decisions?

3. How is the data delivered? CSV, FTP, API, and is there a front-end?

4 How much history is available?

5. How frequently is the data updated — constantly, daily, weekly, etc.?

6. Has there been any white papers (or other documentation) published establishing the predictive value of the data?

7. Has the data been restated?

8. What is your business process for informing customers about changes to your data dictionary? How much advance warning, etc.?

9. Do you have a data dictionary ready to send?

10. Do you have a relevant data sample ready to test? (Wall Street firms often want to test 30–180 days before deciding)

11. Why (and how) is your data different than other vendors?

Follow Harry’s checklist. While you are at it, if you have an application that needs a great data front and the ability to integrate data, give Harry a call at (650) 336–0222 or email him at

Anthea C. Stratigos is Co-founder & CEO of Outsell, Inc., the leading research and advisory firm focused exclusively on data, media, information, and technology. Get professional and personal lessons from a career spent mentoring successful leaders. Tell your story or ask a question — confidentially. Ask Anthea!

Is Your Data Ready? was originally published in Outsell Inc. on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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