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Jigsaw Pioneers Data-as-a-Service

If software can be a service then the next step is obviously data-as-a-service - now isn't it

If software can be a service then the next step is obviously data-as-a-service - now isn't it. It's only Mr. Spock logical.

And the first data-as-a-service company looks to be a little number called Jigsaw, a 100-man San Mateo-based global business directory that means to have Dun & Bradstreet watching its back - and its $1.7 billion in revenues a year.

See - in tandem with Salesforce.com - Jigsaw is launching Data Fusion, the first cloud-based system for acquiring and managing database records, widgetry that promises to be one of those annoying, lethargy-shaking schemes that disrupts everything and forces people out of their ever-so-comfortable cocoons.

It means to get B2B database owners out of the business of procuring and managing company and contact records since at best they do a lousy job.

A positively shocking 96% of the records in most CRM systems - ostensibly the corporate jewels - are wrong or at best incomplete - not to mention dead or duplicated - and so sub-optimal, to say the least, for prospecting and driving sales.

Because of these nasty dentist-style cavities - and the absence of any affordable way to fix them - Jigsaw CEO Jim Fowler claims "CRM data is fundamentally broken."

Fowler figures poor data quality costs US businesses more than $600 billion - as in - God help us - billion - a year.

And, although something like $50 billion a year is spent on B2B marketing data, he says, "Your usual data acquisition avenues - list rentals, online data services like Hoovers, OneSource, Zoom and that old technique cold calling - are hard and expensive and don't provide automatic updates, maintenance or net new records."

So Jigsaw has adopted what Fowler calls the "Tom Sawyer approach" that Tom dreamed up to get Aunt Polly's fence whitewashed.

It has built what it calls the world's largest user-generated database claiming that its business contact information is complete and updated thanks to a Tom Sawyer-like first-to-know community of over 800,000 users.

Jigsaw currently has 12 million contact records and two million company records heavily weighed to the IT business of course. They are the early adopters. Its members build and maintain the database and Jigsaw reportedly kills all partial records; all fields have to be complete.

All of Jigsaw's records are updated in real-time and include name, title, company, work e-mail, business phone and address. Cell phone numbers are considered intrusive for the moment - a bit of silly privacy-preserving flummery we'd take issue with.

Data Fusion is meant to leverage the Jigsaw database to move CRM record management to the cloud. It claims the result is consistent and automated cleaning and maintenance of a company's CRM records along with a regular influx of net new sales and marketing contacts.

Data Fusion comes as a monthly subscription service but companies can reduce the usage costs by contributing back to the Jigsaw system.

It connects with a CRM system and automatically matches and updates records daily, with a dashboard to monitor activity and changes and the option of accepting or rejecting any specific updates. Administrators can pick which fields in each record they want to synch daily.

After Salesforce, Jigsaw expects to add other CRM systems and databases this year and next. It has published an open API and a Developer Toolkit so any CRM or database vendor can integrate Jigsaw.

Data Fusion comes on a per-seat, per-month basis just like Salesforce and other SaaS providers. A full license like a big OEM just bought runs $500,000. With Data Fusion, if you have 25 seats of Salesforce then you buy 25 seats of Jigsaw.

If you share, it costs $79 a seat. If not it runs $99 a seat. If you only want Jigsaw to clean up your mess it's $49 a seat and if you share it's $29 a seat.

Fowler says Jigsaw means to teach people to share rather than regard every tidbit as competitive.

Google is reportedly one of the 800 corporate customers already using Jigsaw's widgetry.

Started in late 2003, Jigsaw is profitable and says its revenue is doubling every year. It doesn't need any more VC money having banked $18 million from Austin Ventures, Norwest and Eldorado in years past.

As we were going to press D&B cut an alliance with Jigsaw to pick up its data. Jigsaw also cut a deal to use Alterian's query widgetry to improve the performance and manageability of its database.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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