By Andrew Dunn, Chief Technology Officer, OpenCorporates
OpenCorporates is already the largest open database of companies in the world – which is no mean feat. But there is great potential to expand the data we cover and improve the way we provide that data to our users. That potential is exactly why I joined as CTO late last year.
Users of data want it in a format that lets them spend less time wrangling with it and more time leveraging it to drive insights and opportunities. In my previous roles, I transformed product offerings to meet end user needs, and that is my aim at OpenCorporates.
In this blog, I will outline a flavour of the significant improvements we hope to make to our product to offer our data to users how, where and when they want it.
Once we improve the technology that delivers our data, it will transform our product, disrupt the company data industry, and – most importantly – benefit all of our users.
After all, unlike legacy business information providers, our data is truly transparent, meaning it’s: traceable (so you know where it came from), unified in one place, up-to-date and accessible – so anybody can leverage it.
My vision for OpenCorporates’ product
The way some providers deliver data is akin to giving users an entire telephone directory, like the UK’s old “Yellow Pages”, every single day. Ingesting this very big file of information requires users to expend a lot of time, effort and processing power.
Our work will allow clients to equip their systems with all the information they want just once – whether that is our entire dataset or a particular jurisdiction’s worth of legal entities. After that, we will only need to provide them with the changes that apply to that slice of data every day. Think of “post it” notes rather than the phone book.
This means users can keep their systems up to date with the latest information and be more ready to act on material changes, while we take care of what we are good at: data collection, normalisation and aggregation.
All of this is part of our efforts to create a 360 degree view of the company universe – delivered via an open platform with on-demand access which provides high quality, transparent data that’s traceable, unified, fresh, accessible and flexible.
Our product will offer the following features:
Clients can receive data in the way that works for them – whether through our API or a data exchange.
We will deliver a stream of consciousness of legal entity data on the subjects that you deem relevant. You can subscribe to everything, or be more selective, and we will let you know of any changes in the area.
- Depth of understanding
Our cloud-based product will offer unparalleled scale to start building out a reflective graph of the entire world’s entities. This will give you a richer picture of company data and deeper insights.
How this will benefit you
Too often, companies focus on the technological power and possibilities of their product without asking a simple question: how will it make the most impact on our end users? That question will be the guiding principle of every change and improvement we make.
Ultimately our new approach means users can get the data they need at the right time.
They will notice the following benefits:
- Time savings
We will make it easy for users of our data at scale to initially ingest and then update the information in a digestible and streamlined way, rather than needing to wade through an entire dataset.
- Freedom to focus on higher value work
This time saving removes the need for users to do ETL (“extract, transform, load”) work on our data, and instead can focus their time on the work they need to do with the data.
- Quicker time to insight
As a result, users should be able to drive insights and opportunities which will lead to better results for their business or organisation.
Learning from experience
Disrupting a long-established industry may sound ambitious, but I know it is possible. I have led this process of product transformation at numerous companies throughout my career, most recently at Arachnys and Smarsh.
Getting the technology right is the easy part. There will be challenges, but that is what engineers are built for. I often ask my teams: how do you eat a whale? The answer: in very small bites.
In the same way, we will address our challenges head on and break them down into manageable tasks. Then we will build out and deploy our product on a stable, scalable platform.
It is easy to talk about our vision for creating a best-in-class product, but what will that mean in practical terms?
Over the next few months, we will drive:
- Scalable data pipelines
We will add more jurisdictions and different types of data into an ever growing data pipeline.
- High-speed, real-time delivery of data
Once the right pipeline for data delivery is in place, we’ll create the platform so that users that have initially ingested our data will receive bite-sized, ongoing changes in the data in real-time.
- An ever-disruptive culture
The biggest barrier to transformation is typically changing the way we think about problem solving. Our users will soon detect our dynamic, client-focused approach, if they haven’t already.
This is only the beginning of our journey but we are lucky to be starting with a massive advantage: an unrivalled collection of the world’s company data. It is foundational information that every business in the world needs.
In the future, we’ll enrich our legal entity data with more data sources and insights than ever before – all with line of sight back to the legal entity they relate to.
Want to know more?
- Our new CTO
Read the press release on Andrew’s appointment as CTO.