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How Dun & Bradstreet is transforming data analytics in the cloud

By Microsoft in Business Team on September 20, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Business

Focus on: Empower Employees, Optimize Operations, Engage Customers, Transform Products

Dun & Bradstreet is built on data. Since their founding in 1841, Dun & Bradstreet has used data to foster and grow the most valuable relationships in business. With a rich history that saw the business become one of the first publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange, employ four Presidents (Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, and McKinley), and shape nearly two centuries of business deals, for 176 years, Dun & Bradstreet has equipped the right people with the right information at the right time to better inform business decision making. Operating in over 200 countries, Dun & Bradstreet provides data and analytics to a blue-chip customer base—including 90% of the Fortune 500, and over 170 million other enterprises and small to mid-size businesses. Its collection of sales and marketing capabilities, risk management solutions, and data-driven insights empower customers to build healthy business relationships and make critical decisions with the most up-to-date commercial data and insights available.

Those business relationships are made possible by Dun & Bradstreet’s immense collection of data. With over 265 million business records inside the world’s largest commercial database, Dun & Bradstreet uses this vast store of data to help its partners and customers assess the stability, reliability, and opportunity of the businesses they may choose to work with. Part of Dun & Bradstreet’s ability to curate those interactions hinges on its custom Data Universal Number System, otherwise known as the D-U-N-S Number. Think of a D-U-N-S Number like a corporate fingerprint. Any organization—regardless of size, location, industry, or history—can register for its own unique nine-digit identification number that stays with it for the life of the company. This D-U-N-S number helps establish a Dun & Bradstreet business credit file that vendors and other potential partners can then use to assess that company’s credibility and reliability. In short, the D-U-N-S number not only provides stability for outside interactions, but legitimizes any business in the eyes of the existing market.

Truth and meaning in dataSales teams can gloss over previous red flags, and procurement teams may miss how a company they are doing business with is linked to an overseas supplier that is linked to modern slavery, but find the right data, and the truth will come to the surface. For 176 years, Dun & Bradstreet has made that data available to their customers. In fact, that ability to find truth and meaning in data holds immense value for its customers and stakeholders as they arrange partnerships and plan for their future. Data doesn’t lie, and with more than twice as many commercial data assets than its closest competitor, Dun & Bradstreet is in a unique place to provide insight into the financial, operational and compliance risks, and growth opportunities for its global customers, prospects, suppliers, and partners. But, to reliably deliver that truth and meaning, the data must be up-to-date to the second. President and Chief Operating Officer Josh Peirez explains, “If data is old, it’s not valuable. Getting data to the customer from when it first exists in the world at a much faster pace [is] critically important.”

Chief Content & Technology Officer, Curtis Brown, adds, “There’s this window of time that we want to compress, and make it smaller and smaller and smaller and get us toward real-time content.”

For Dun & Bradstreet, that urgency means its analysts, reports, and information must exist in nearly real-time—a challenge when you’re tasked with adding, managing, and retaining hundreds of millions of business records every day. Timeliness is indifferent to things like server maintenance or operational silos.

That’s why, four years ago, Dun & Bradstreet introduced its new transformation strategy. From updating its infrastructure, to shifting its culture and refining its solutions, Dun & Bradstreet chose to actively pursue modernization at all levels of the organization. Since 2014, Dun & Bradstreet has taken great strides to expand its lead in data and analytics, update the way it delivered data, and upgrade its brand and talent to better reflect its stance as a forward-leaning, globally-focused organization—and Microsoft Azure is the next step in this transition. “We knew that we had to adopt a whole new set of technical capabilities, including cloud technology,” says Brown.

Although technologies like IoT and machine learning continue to gain traction and increase the total amount of data Dun & Bradstreet collects, the company’s overall mission remains unchanged—to help customers use that new influx of information in beneficial ways. Chief Technology Officer Pat McDevitt explains, “The number of new data sources that are becoming available is exploding, and the ability to rapidly integrate that with our partners’ systems, with our customers’ systems, is really what the future looks like. But for these modern technologies to deliver true business benefits, the foundational data needs to be good – without accurate and quality data, the technologies out there are window dressing, sans the window.”

Partnering for improved efficiency

“I look for us to continue to expand the solutions and the insights we can deliver to our customers with the help of Microsoft,” says Mike Sabin, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Global Business Solutions.

As Dun & Bradstreet continues its journey of business transformation, it isn’t just customers’ access to data that will evolve. Employees at both Microsoft and Dun & Bradstreet will have faster, more efficient tools that will open-up more customers to world of data that can empower a company – of any size – to maximize their business relationships to help grow their businesses. And, with the integrations between Microsoft and Dun & Bradstreet applications on Azure, customers can experience enhanced efficiency and productivity with the help of an industry-leading relationship.

“The best relationships are bi-directional,” explains Tim Clarke, Dun & Bradstreet’s Vice President of Global Alliances and Partnerships. Together, Dun & Bradstreet and Microsoft will soon be able to connect mutual Microsoft and Dun & Bradstreet customers to the timely, integrated, accurate and quality data they have been longing for. This connection empowers both companies by equipping Dun & Bradstreet with the cloud services it needs to enhance the value it provides to customers.

From connecting their customers to key data-insights, to digitally transforming to stay competitive into the future, Dun & Bradstreet’s journey reflects the same values they’ve relied on for over 176 years —being relentlessly curious, data inspired, and inherently generous. Its passion for data leads Dun & Bradstreet to embrace change, to learn, to challenge the status quo, and share those discoveries with their partners, customers, and colleagues. And it’s with those values in mind that Dun & Bradstreet continues to search for the truth and meaning in data as they help to grow the most valuable business relationships around the world.


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