Data Talks, Episode 2: The Importance of a Name

Episode Two: The Importance of a Name

Host: George L'Heureux, Principal Consultant, Data Strategy
Guest: Mary Hagemes, Data Advisor

What’s in a name? The name on the sign hanging on the front door of the business isn't necessarily the business's legal name. A company can conduct business under multiple names: their legal name and multiple trade styles. It’s important to understand which name you're working with based on your use case and then be able to aggregate it all under the same record.

A unique identifier, such as the Dun & Bradstreet D‑U‑N‑S® Number, may be a better way of identifying a record and getting an understanding of all of the names a company uses to operate, so that when you're making decisions, you can see the full picture of that business and treat your use case appropriately.

 

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Episode 2: The Importance of a Name

George L'Heureux:
Hello everyone. This is Data Talks, presented by Dun & Bradstreet. I'm your host, George L'Heureux. I'm a Principal Consultant for Data Strategy here in the Advisory Services Team at Dun & Bradstreet. Here at Advisory Services, our team is dedicated to helping our clients maximize the value of that relationship they have with Dun & Bradstreet, through expert advice and consultation. On Data Talks, I chat every episode with one of the expert advisors at D&B about a topic that can help consumers of our data and our services to get more value. Today's guest expert is Mary Hagemes. Mary is a Data Adviser at D&B. Mary, how long have you been here at D&B.

Mary Hagemes:
I've been with D&B for the last 23 years in various roles throughout the company.

George L'Heureux:
And can you tell us a little bit about what you do in your current role as a Data Advisor?

Mary Hagemes:
Sure. I work specifically with our strategic customers in the insurance vertical to help them ingest our data, understand it, consume it, and use it to make a better decisions moving forward.

George L'Heureux:
And before that at D&B or other positions, what led you into the role that you're in right now?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, I've worked with some of our small customers, all the way up to our Fortune 500 customers. Working with them on mitigating risks within their accounts receivable portfolios, streamlining workflows, working with them on using data to improve their sales and marketing strategy plans, as well as in the supplier space, working with critical suppliers, understanding their risk and also spend analysis to create efficiencies within their vendor portfolios.

George L'Heureux:
Great. And as you and I were getting set to chat today, one of the things that you brought up as being really important that you felt like we wanted to talk about, is the idea of the importance of a name. What's in a name? And I guess that is going to be applicable to clients across all those different verticals. Why is understanding how businesses are named so very important?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, it's important to understand that a business can conduct business under multiple names. So, the name on the sign of the door of the front of the business isn't necessarily the business's legal name. So it's important to understand which name you're working with based on what use cases you would like to use that name and that you aggregate it all under the same record.

George L'Heureux:
So before we go any further, what is the legal business name? What does that mean exactly?

Mary Hagemes:
Sure. The legal business name, there's only going to be one legal business name and that is registered within the local country or within the United States, it would be registered with the Secretary of State, what their legal operating business name is. And then we also have trade styles we're doing business as, which a company can use multiple trade styles to do business, and that's one that's usually more recognizable. It's the one that the public would be familiar with for that company.

George L'Heureux:
So that trade style, to use the term you used a minute ago, that's more the name you're going to see on a sign on the street?

Mary Hagemes:
That is correct. If you're walking up to the business, the front door, that would be the sign on the door or the more familiar, the recognizable name of that company.

George L'Heureux:
Okay. So why would a business do that? Why, if you're going to name yourself one thing as your legal business name, why wouldn't you just use that as the name that you use on the door?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, there's multiple reasons for that. Some people like to register their company name in their name. And so therefore, that name isn't very flashy or maybe attracting as much business, so they would use a name that would help them drive business to their storefront. And there's also other reasons. There could be a management company or companies that own several different types of restaurants, for example, where you can have a company that owns a steak house, a seafood house, an Italian restaurant, and they would want to name those companies appropriately for that business so they can make the public aware of what they do and drive business through that name.

George L'Heureux:
So I might be a restaurateur and my company name is L'Heureux's Restaurants Incorporated, but my steak restaurant might have George's Steaks and my seafood restaurant might be called L'Heureux Seafood. That's basically the idea?

Mary Hagemes:
That is correct, but it's still all owned and operated by the same company, which would have one legal business name and several trade styles.

George L'Heureux:
So inside of D&B, how do we keep track of all of that? If there are going to be one to 10, 20 different names for a business, how is it that we manage to make sure that that's all in the same place?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, when we aggregate the data and collect the data for the records, we put it under a unique identifier and not just the name. So our records can hold the legal name of the business along with multiple trade styles. So we're able to say this one record under this unique identifier is going to operate under these different business names.

George L'Heureux:
And that unique identifier is our D-U-N-S number.

Mary Hagemes:
That is correct, our D-U-N-S number.

George L'Heureux:
And so if we do all that work and we pull it together under the D-U-N-S number, what is that doing for our customers? How are they then able to take advantage of it?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, they're able to take all of the information that comes from each one of those records. So, in their systems, if they have the multiple names under different records, they would be able to aggregate all the information about those records into one complete view of the customer using Dun & Bradstreet. We can help them do that. Using that unique identifier, that D-U-N-S number, we can help them bring together those records so that when they're making business decisions on a company, they can make the appropriate business decision on all of the information they have on the company instead of just pieces.

George L'Heureux:
So you mentioned that this information is maybe in the Secretary of State's office or other places, what stops the company, why wouldn't a client of ours, just say, "You know what, I'm going to go find out all this information and I'm going to do this consolidation myself." Wouldn't that be possible for them? Or is it too challenging? What makes it so special, what Dun & Bradstreet is able to do?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, it is a huge challenge. Dun & Bradstreet has over 30,000 sources of data, where we're aggregating all of this data together. We're conducting many different ways of getting this data. So it's not just getting to the Secretary of State. Yes, we have that information and we will bring that in as a legal name, but we also have other sources we're using to pick up those trade styles from our intelligence engine and all those backend ways that we're doing it through multiple sources. And so, we're sourcing out of all those different sources to be able to aggregate all of that data together. It's a very large process for any one company to take on.

George L'Heureux:
So, you mentioned it a moment ago. I want to go back to it. You talked a little bit about duplicates and being able to pull what might otherwise be duplicates together under a single umbrella and be able to look at it holistically. What would some of the drawbacks be if you're not doing that? If you allow those duplicates to persist in your database?

Mary Hagemes:
Well, the biggest drawback is you're never going to get that 360 degree view of your customer, your prospects, your vendors, whoever you're trying to make a decision on. You're going to have disparate information spread throughout your organization. And you really would like to know all about that specific company when you're making a decision. So, you're missing out pieces of information to actually put a good decision forth for that specific plan that you're making, whether it's mitigating risk or sales and marketing plans or analyzing your supply chain. All of those things you want to take a whole look, a whole view at that record.

George L'Heureux:
When we have that whole view, we're able to look at those different names, we're able to say, "Okay, this is maybe the legal business name. This is the trade name. This is my view of it." But it's not just limited to names, right? I mean, we're talking about names here, but the same kind of thing goes for addresses or phone numbers or anything like that, right?

Mary Hagemes:
Oh, that is correct. With D-U-N-S, we write a physical address, but you can also have a mailing address, a PO box. We can also have multiple sources and multiple pieces of information within that record up until even understanding the family. It belongs to. If you want to understand who owners are, ownership is above and beyond just that specific company itself, that entity. So that D-U-N-S Number allows for you to aggregate all that information in and keep a whole view of that record.

George L'Heureux:
I mean, clearly this is something that you're dealing a lot with our clients on, and that we think a lot about internally, just as a team. How do we convey this? How do we talk about this? How do we express the importance of it? But actually doing things in data management can sometimes be challenging. What are the biggest challenges that you see when you're talking to customers about this, maybe in terms of them understanding it or doing something about it?

Mary Hagemes:
I mean, the biggest challenge I would face is really just not knowing sometimes that they have to look a little bit deeper on the name. They have to understand a little bit more how they're doing business, but once we open up and show them what we have, what a legal name is, what a trade style is, how they're operating, how it comes together, how all that information comes together. It's easy to realize how much value that brings to that company because they're able to make the decisions then on all the information that they have when they're able to see the full record.

George L'Heureux:
So, as we wrap up here today, Mary, what is one thing that you might want someone who's watching or listening to this today, whether they're a client or not, to be thinking about, to be taking away from this discussion about different types of business names and how they impact the way we look at companies?

Mary Hagemes:
I would say the one big takeaway I would want people to take from this conversation is that using a company name may not be the best way for identifying a record. Using the unique identifier, like a D-U-N-S Number to identify that record and get all of the names for that company, whether it's a legal name or it's a trade style, so that when you're doing business and you're making decisions, you can use the appropriate name for your use case, where if you want the more recognizable name, the trade style, you have the information to use that versus if you want to take a look deeper into a company, legally, you might want to use their legal name. So, having all of that for you under the unique identifier, you are able to use that record how you want to with your use cases.

George L'Heureux:
Fantastic. Mary, thanks so much for joining me and sharing your expertise on this topic with anyone who's listening or watching today.

Mary Hagemes:
Thank you.

George L'Heureux:
Our guest expert today has been Mary Hagemes. She's a Data Advisor here at Dun & Bradstreet, and this is Data Talks. We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode, today's discussion. And if you have, we encourage you to share it with your friends and colleagues, let them know about the show. And if you'd like more information about things that we've discussed today, please visit www.dnb.com or talk to your company's D&B specialist today. I'm George L'Heureux. Thanks for joining us. Until next time.