By Alan Zeichick
“Where are our best prospects?” the CEO asks the sales manager. “Two companies in our market are merging—how will that affect us?” the CEO asks a business analyst.
To answer these types of questions with enough depth to make decisions, management teams need lots of data that’s relevant to the decisions and actions the team must face.
What’s more, the data must be easily analyzable by traditional business intelligence tools and artificial intelligence. But simply having access to relevant data that’s accurate and fresh and interpretable by AI-based analytics is not enough. Business leaders can gain a competitive edge by incorporating dynamic signals into their applications to drive contextual action.
Dynamic signals are AI-driven insights that chew through the internal data and external feeds to provide timely, relevant alerts. By embedding these capabilities into enterprise applications, businesses can make the best decisions based on the available information and signals as fast as possible.
InnovationQuarter, based in The Hague and Rotterdam, helps foreign companies—from startups to large corporations—establish a business presence in West Holland. The organization, funded by the Dutch national, provincial, and local governments and three universities in the region, provides information to help companies learn about doing business in the Netherlands, helps them find office space and housing, assists with hiring and permits, and even offers business-to-business networking and public relations services.
AI-based data analytics and smart signals help InnovationQuarter identify companies that might want to expand into the Netherlands, explains Chris van Voorden, director of foreign investments. A challenge: There are hundreds, even thousands, of prospective clients, and van Voorden’s 14-person team needs to find the best ones. But who are they?
One tactic is trade shows. “We go to those events, but it’s much better to investigate the companies that will be exhibiting or attending an event up front,” van Voorden says, to determine if they’re worth pursuing. That’s where the data feeds and AI analytics come in. And that’s where Oracle DataFox comes in.
Oracle DataFox provides access to data on millions of organizations, including most public companies worldwide. Algorithms continuously source, refresh, and analyze data, performing more than 49 million customer record updates per week to help ensure that the data is fresh and accurate. By providing data on company head count, funding, revenue, growth, and more, Oracle DataFox integrations within Oracle’s ERP, sales, and marketing applications enable improved AI outcomes.
We’re saving money, saving time on preparation, and finding the right targets.”—Chris van Voorden, Director of Foreign Investments, InnovationQuarter
“Now we can import these exhibitor and attendee lists into Oracle DataFox, and it will come up with indicators we are looking for in these companies, the right sorts of signals,” van Voorden says. “Did they get new funding? Do they have international expansion plans? Is something changing in their geographical footprint? Are they recruiting business development managers or directors for the EMEA region: Europe, Middle East, and Africa?
“Those are the signals we can get out of the Oracle DataFox system. This helps us to become more effective, because we know which companies to talk to. We also have the indications of what to start a conversation about. We’re saving money, saving time on preparation, and finding the right targets.”
The more of that fresh and accurate data, the better the insights. Take company information: Oracle DataFox monitors press releases, web-based information, blogs, and other sources of competitive intelligence on more than 3.7 million public and private organizations, updating much of that information weekly. That information can then be scored and correlated to help prioritize top sales prospects, identify opportunities, and warn of risks.
The smarter that data, the better. “Smart data is precise. It’s high quality,” says Bastiaan Janmaat, former CEO of DataFox and vice president of product management at Oracle. “Smart data is continually refreshed, so it’s not stale or static. Also, smart data includes dynamic signals, reflecting data types that are constantly changing.”
And finally, Janmaat adds, “smart data, with artificial intelligence, should be embedded into business applications.” Those AI-infused applications then “nudge” users with information on what they need to know and do, says Clive Swan, senior vice president for applications development at Oracle.
In March 2019, Oracle announced new Oracle DataFox integrations with Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud (Oracle ERP Cloud), Oracle Customer Experience Cloud (Oracle CX Cloud), and Oracle Marketing Cloud.
“All of our solutions are underpinned by Oracle’s smart-data strategy, which enriches first-party application data with third-party, web-scale, trusted data, enabling our AI solutions to make even better decisions,” Swan says.
BrightTALK, which operates a library of 150,000 expert online talks on topics ranging from information technology to financial securities, reaches eight million professionals, thanks in part to its AI-based recommendation engine, which helps connect the right content with the right person at the right time.
Oracle DataFox is part of BrightTALK’s multilayered AI. “Oracle DataFox plays a big role in working with our customers at the business level,” says David Pitta, BrightTALK’s chief marketing officer. “It’s key to our go-to-market strategy and how we acquire, retain, and grow our business with customers.”
Our vision includes the use of AI to minimize or eliminate the low-value tasks performed by our people.”—David Pitta, Chief Marketing Officer, BrightTALK
BrightTALK’s comprehensive, custom AI solution—Ada—presents the company’s webinars and videos to specific professionals. “Ada is constantly serving content to professional audiences and giving them the option to curate a unique experience,” Pitta says.
As professionals engage with BrightTALK, “our AI is learning their interest in specific topics and where that content fits in their journey,” he says. “This builds out the user’s profile and trains Ada”—to not only make better recommendations but also to improve the overall experience.
Furthermore, AI is helping make BrightTALK employees more productive, enabling them to spend more time on higher-value tasks. “Our vision includes the use of AI to minimize or eliminate the low-value tasks performed by our people and get their brains focused on solving high-value, complex business problems,” Pitta says. “The year 2019 is all about simplifying and automating our business.”
Simplification and automation: Those are benefits Oracle’s Janmaat sees as well. “Every customer is quick to see that AI, built on smart data, is good for them,” he says.
Customers often don’t need to get involved at the most complex algorithmic level. “What they care about is the output,” Janmaat says. “They don’t need to know how the sausage got made, as long as the sausage is delicious.”
But the ingredients are important. Says Janmaat: “It’s the Oracle DataFox code under the hood that gets all this data from all these different places and structures it all, cleans it up, throws out the junk, keeps the stuff that’s useful, deduplicates when we’re grabbing data from multiple sources, and then puts it all in one place.”
Illustration by Wes Rowell