D&B Direct: A New Model for Consuming D&B Supply Management Data (Part 1)

Early this winter, we had the chance to catch up with the D&B team to learn about their D&B Direct announcement from this fall. D&B Direct is not a new content offering for D&B. Rather, it provides a new means of consuming D&B data directly through non-D&B systems, including a broad range of sales and marketing (inclusive of CRM), procurement, ERP, HCM and related systems. D&B positions D&B Direct as yet another step in D&B's ability to "seamlessly integrate" data inside corporate applications. Yet, in reality, the potential power available to companies through real-time calls into data like D&B's far transcends a basic real-time integration use case.

Supplier management is just one area where D&B sees companies benefiting from access to D&B data through an API. D&B also offers access to data with APIs for sales and marketing purposes as well as through Hoovers. For the purpose of this blog, we'll direct our attention to the supplier management side.

Consider, for example, predictive D&B supplier data. Based on established criteria (e.g., on-time supplier performance, invoice accuracy, responsiveness to corrective action requests), companies can call the data off of a D&B content service linked through an API into a supply risk or supplier management system, setting off further predictive computations and analysis in one's own systems. Moreover, the applied activity for when this data might be called or queried through an API might depend on one's own system's computation (e.g., a decline in one internally captured metric might set off a call to D&B to get a certain supplier score).

From a technical standpoint, D&B Direct uses a basic API-driven approach to connect D&B's database with specific customer applications (e.g., spend analysis, supplier management, supply chain risk management, contract management, eProcurement). For this system-to-system API-based integration, users can preselect from six different specific D&B Direct Supply Management offerings. These include a Supplier Basic offering, which, in D&B's words, provides "a deep list of a supplier's business identification, demographics, and diversity/socio-economic information" inclusive of over 70 data elements. These include sales, employees, executive names, NAICs codes, import/export information, FEIN, public/private IDs and related basic fields.

The second API-based supply management D&B Direct package consists of a Business Entity Match capability where "an input record about a given supplier is connected to the matching D&B D-U-N-S numbered business record" within the D&B database. In other words, this offering provides a form of validated matching for verifying vendor master information. The third package that D&B offers focuses on Supplier Family Linkage. This API-based package provides the standard parent/child look up information in full consideration of "corporate family relationships, headquarters, parent, local country ultimate & global ultimate, total employees at the global ultimate level," etc.

The fourth available package focuses on what D&B describes as Supplier Current Risk. This package offers intelligence into a supplier's "current business standing" based on a range of indicators such as "payment performance, indicators of financial embarrassment activity, presence of suits, liens or judgments, events such as natural disasters or operational activities like ownership change or merger/acquisition, etc." The fifth package, Supplier Predictive Risk, takes a more forward-looking view of supply chain risk on the vendor level, offering insight into "a supplier's possible future business standing" inclusive of risk scores and data based upon "credit scores, Financial Stress Score (FSS), Supplier Evaluation Risk (SER) rating and debarment indicators." The sixth and final package provides basic supplier financials -- cash/liquid assets, total assets, total liabilities, net worth, sales, net income, statement date, etc.

For early deployment, one D&B customer in the A&D industry is using D&B Direct API-based integration to pull supplier management data into their ERP environment to understand risk factors (e.g., SER and PAYDEX information) on a multi-tier level. Since D&B Direct pricing is based on use-cases -- which we'll explore in more detail in Part 2 of this post – and were designed to encourage the maximum consumption of information, the configuration and data integration approaches for this real-time information can look quite different from how procurement organizations have consumed only batch-based or periodically-refreshed (e.g., monthly, quarterly) D&B data in the past.

Stay tuned as our investigation of this offering continues, including D&B's pricing approach.

Jason Busch

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