Martin Belam ushers in a new era of open corporate data
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Wednesday, 29th February 2012 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added

By Martin Belam


For a long time the preserve of dusty legal and financial databases, services like Duedil and Openly Local are making the corporate financial data of the UK easier than ever for people to research on the web.

Item is a start-up service that aggregates data about companies in the UK. Using it you can very quickly visualise the relationships that companies have with each other, and their reliability and corporate history. The main basis of the data is that held by Companies House, but Duedil augment it with data from a variety of sources, including the Intellectual Property Office, British and Irish Legal Information Institute and London Gazette. The information is also augmented with social data pulled in from Twitter and LinkedIn.

Founder Damian Kimmelman recently spoke at a London Hacks/Hackers meet-up, and explained that the service is due to launch in several more European countries. Duedil is short for due diligence and the company argue that all good business relationships are built on trust, and transparency of data can only help that trust to form between potential partners. Of course, the data also plays a role in gathering business intelligence about competitors too.

Information professionals always want to be careful of the provenance of data, and Duedil make a promise about the accuracy of theirs: “If we have made a mistake in our financial information, and you spot it, we'll send you £5”.

A forthcoming feature will give people the ability to make lists of companies – effectively being able to put together your own personal FTSE. It might just be companies you are interested in, or it could be an index of your rivals. The ability to compare all their financials against each other and spot trends amongst the organisations in your sector could be immensely valuable.

Duedil seems to be part of a movement to democratise data on the web happening in the UK at the moment. An interesting counterpart is Openly Local. This takes data on local government spending, and turns that into a searchable database. So far they claim to have a record of over 2.3m financial transactions.

What intrigues me is that here are some aggregations of data that used to require specialist knowledge and specialist access to information before you could interrogate them. Now, thanks to services like this, it is easier for small investors or small businesses that previously wouldn't have had an information function to make decisions based on data.

It seems yet another development that is both a threat and an opportunity – can information professionals be the first people to really get hold of these services and understand the value of joining them together?

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