Jigsaw Cleans Your Cloud

Incomplete or inaccurate contact data continues to be a pain point in many sales departments. According to Jim Fowler, chief executive officer of online business directory Jigsaw, companies -- especially B2B ones -- spend a huge amount of time trying to procure and manage CRM records. In order for software to work, the data layer needs to be clean and up-to-date, but when left to salespeople to manage manually, data quality often falls by the wayside. With its recent Jigsaw Data Fusion release, Fowler's company aims to remove the difficulties surrounding data procurement by automatically cleansing contact data in the cloud.

Fowler likens Jigsaw's business model to Salesforce.com's (incidentally also a Jigsaw partner) -- a software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model that essentially removes management and maintenance issues that Fowler says are inevitable with on-premises installations."You don't want to be in the business of having to procure and manage software," he says. "We believe, with Fusion, that exact same revolution is on the cusp with the data layer."

Jigsaw has had its head in the cloud for more than five years now. The company began as a collaborative online business directory, allowing its members -- now numbering 800,000, according to its marketing materials -- to contribute to and correct contact data. (Jigsaw boasts that its database currently includes over 12 million business contacts, each containing "a contact name, title, company, address, email address and phone number.") The Rolodex-like company then began offering businesses its data-cleansing services. Now, Fowler says, the hygiene and management capabilities are fully automated in Jigsaw Data Fusion. "Automation is the overlay of all of this," he says. "If [salespeople] have to do it by hand, the fact is [they] don't do it. That's why data sucks -- people don't like to do entry."

The basic concept is to integrate all the data and updates generated by Jigsaw users directly into CRM solutions. So, for example, Fusion will take a copy of a user's Salesforce CRM data, compare it with the freshest Jigsaw data, and then present the results listing any changes that were made. The solution, according to Fowler, does all of the following entirely behind the scenes:

  • fills in incomplete data;
  • fixes incorrect data;
  • flags dead data; and
  • notifies the users of duplicate data.

Fowler says he expects Data Fusion's primary customer base to be within the small-to-midsize business (SMB) realm. Once again likening Jigsaw to Salesforce.com -- it never hurts to suggest you're on the same path as the first SaaS company to hit a billion-dollar run rate -- Fowler says that he expects initial interest to come from the smaller end of the market and then eventually move upstream. He notes that few companies currently have automated data management and hygiene, and those organizations tend to be at the high end of the market. This kind of solution simply hasn't existed for SMBs, he says.

China Martens, an analyst with The 451 Group, notes that it's typically been up to the sales organization to procure its own contact lists. A bigger company, however, might engage with Dun&Bradstreet (D&B) or another high-end provider of data-cleansing services to take its records, clean them up, and give them back.

Interestingly, the release of Data Fusion happens to coincide with a related development: this week's announcement that D&B had formed an alliance with Jigsaw, allowing D&B clients to access Jigsaw's B2B contact information. "[Jigsaw] has been very clever in terms of partnerships," Martens says. "Not only on the CRM side, but we will see a bunch [of deals] with other marketing automators coming. Who would have thought they would announce an alliance with Dun & Bradstreet?" As corporate relationships in this market shift, she says, watching where the players end up will be captivating. "This is a very interesting business," she notes. "All of these data providers are competitors, but at the same time they've got to be close partners because not each of them has all the pieces of the puzzle."

Martens also brings attention to Data Fusion's clever pricing model. The pay-per-seat pricing closely resembles that of -- wait for it -- Salesforce.com. Jigsaw, however, is offering an incentive for users to become more active: Those who choose to share accounts, leads, and contacts back into the Jigsaw database get a $20-per-seat discount off the regular price tags -- a Clean & Consume "Sales" seat would be $79 instead of $99, a Clean-Only "Support" seat just $29 instead of $49.

At launch, Jigsaw has initially positioned Data Fusion for Salesforce.com customers, but the product has an open application programming interface (API), which means it can plug into a number of CRM applications. In fact, Fowler revealed to CRM magazine that tighter integrations and partnerships with CRM vendors can be expected, a list that might include Landslide Technologies, Maximizer Software, Microsoft, NetSuite, Oracle, and SugarCRM.

The source of that list is hardly a surprise. Last summer, Jigsaw declared June 4 as "Data Independence Day," announcing its Open Data Initiative (ODI) to provide free access to basic information housed in its company database. CRM and contact management providers including Landslide, Maximizer, NetSuite, Oracle, Sage, and SugarCRM jumped on board, allowing their customers to easily access Jigsaw in their respective CRM systems. Following ODI, Jigsaw launched Unlimited View, which allowed people access to additional contact information.

Martens sees a certain logic in Jigsaw's progression: "There was ODI, then Unlimited View -- then it was, 'What if we package up Unlimited View with automation?' Then we're truly talking about data-as-a-service." Martens points out that Jigsaw has also introduced a company wiki that will help in competitive terms. "They were losing deals in the past because they didn't [offer additional] research," she says. The wiki provides users with contextual, real-time information about contacts.

What matters now, Martens says, is having all of that information in one place.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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