Friday, July 2, 2004

OneSource, But Not Every Source?

With all the discussion of the acquisition of OneSource by infoUSA, one name is conspicuously absent from the conversation: idEXEC, the infoUSA subsidiary that to my mind has the best fit with OneSource, and offers the most opportunities for new and joint product offerings. This, and a few other factors, gives me a bit of concern that infoUSA may not fully understand what it has just acquired.

infoUSA has put OneSource into its Donnelley Marketing division. That seems like a reasonable move, as Donnelley has deep experience with the bigger corporate clients that comprise the OneSource customer base (although I am willing to wager the overlap in customers lists isn't large). At the same time, the roots of Donnelley are in consumer data, not business data. Donnelley Marketing now hawks infoUSA business data in addition to its consumer files. Can we conclude from this that OneSource will soon be offering consumer data as well? That's a move that shouldn't be made in haste.

Published press reports seem to indicate that infoUSA can't wait to swap out the D&B file currently licensed by OneSource for its own business file. Again, a reasonable move on the surface, but even leaving aside the hotly debated issue of data quality, these are not identical databases, and there is a risk this could be disruptive to customers. In the hotly competitive aggregation business, you never want to disrupt your customers.

In the most recent issue of InfoCommerce Report, infoUSA's Chief Marketing Officer, Rakesh Gupta, said in regard to OneSource that, "it's not that different a business ... both companies are in the content business from our point of view." Once again, a statement that sounds reasonable on the surface, but the devil is in the details. infoUSA made its name as a list compiler; it knows how to gather and maintain data. OneSource made its name as a data aggregator/reseller. It doesn't know how to gather and maintain data (as its painful acquisition of the CorpTech database proved), but it understands how to package data from both a software and marketing perspective. Complementary? Yes. Same business? Hardly.

Then there's idEXEC, acquired by infoUSA to be its repository of deep, real-time company information that could be used for high-end sales prospecting. If that sounds a little like OneSource, you see my point. After an initial flurry of new products, new features and expanded datasets, idEXEC got very quiet. Not necessarily bad, but curious all the same.

The new president of OneSource, Yvonne Cekel, has made comments that suggests that she will focus on developing new products for OneSource. My suggestion for quick results? Run, don't walk, over to idEXEC and start comparing notes. If you don't already know all about them, you should.

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