We’ve all seen the articles posted by Forbes, Wired and many other news organisations that talk about what Big Data knows about you and if you haven’t, you won’t be surprised to know that the answer is quite a lot!
From a personal perspective, Facebook knows when your relationship is on the rocks, Google knows how old you are, what your gender is and your buying habits. All held within a pretty comprehensive ad profile. Your bank or credit card company knows what you buy and where, and your phone knows how fast you are travelling at any given time. Amazon knows what you read, watch or listen to if you’ve got an Alexa. But what do they and a myriad of other data companies know about your company?
You can find out quite quickly via a quick Google search that as of year-end 2018 there were 5.7 million private businesses in the UK. Of that 5.7 million, 99% of them are small and medium-sized enterprises (SME Businesses). 5.4 million of those are micro businesses, accounting for 96% of all the businesses. In total, those SME companies account for £1.9 trillion in turnover every year or almost 717 billion medium lattes.
That’s important not only because that is a lot of lattes, but also because this turnover comes from companies that have total revenues of less than £10.2 million a year and as such only need to file Abridged Accounts.
Now back to the topic at hand – what do we know about those 5.7 million UK businesses? Again, the answer is a lot. Static information isn’t hard to find – if you’re registered with the government, you will appear on Companies House and most likely Google.
To give you a practical example of just how much data can be found, I’m going to take you through some of the data we can find on our own company:
Let’s start with just the name Digital Fineprint
By putting Digital Fineprint into Companies House search I know the company was registered on the 16th February 2016, that the Company Number is 10006744, that it is registered to ARQUEN HOUSE, 4-6 SPICER STREET, AL3 4PQ as a Private Limited Company and that the directors are Bo-Erik Abrahamsson (Our CEO), Sam Evans (Board of Directors) & Marc Moens (Board of Directors); I also know where they live, their dates of birth, nationalities and when they became directors of Digital Fineprint. I can see the SIC Code (Category to define the Nature of the Business) assigned to the company is 62012 – Business and domestic software development, and it’s correct because we write finance & insurance software. Since we also put our accounts online you can see how much money we have made each year, how much is retained in the bank and roughly what we did with any external shares.
Doesn’t seem like much, but we can then feed the same information into Google and find our website. From there we can find all of our social media, the members of staff we display publicly as well as our Trading Address. I can see who we work with, who is liking our posts on social media, and what we blog about to generate interest.
Again, using Google, we can find our ‘Opening Hours’, where we list on Google Maps, our contact number and email. I can see how many reviews we’ve had and how favourable they are and I can see our CrunchBase profile to see how well we’ve done in funding rounds over the last 3 years.
All of that is just surface information I can find about our company without doing anything clever. Which if I’ve written this well enough, you’ll be thinking ‘What can you find out if you do something clever?’ The answer is – a lot more!
Looking at our website, I can parse the code and using Googles Website solution know:
- How accessible our website is to the disabled or short-sighted (93%)
- How good our SEO is, from H1’s to H3’s, what we are doing around meta tag and titles, the speed the background scripts load
- If we’re using a contact form, where that contact form is going
- If we have a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress and what version it is on (and how secure that version is from cyber-attack)
- We can also see how often someone might change that website, which gives an idea of how tech savvy we might be
- We can even look at the entire text content of our website and analyse it to know what our Google Analytics keywords are and what we might be selling
- We can see what ports our web server has open on and how secure we are from an attack, where we host our website and who that website is registered with
- We can tell when our SSL certificate will expire and what level of security exists
If we take our trading (or registered) address we have the ability to model how many staff we have. To give an example, our trading address is Unit 305-308, Metal Box Factory, 30 Great Guildford St, London SE1 0HS, and using just the square footage that comes with that address we can estimate we have between 12 and 22 staff and since we have 23 staff, I know we need to move offices soon to fit more people in!
We can take everything in those balance sheets that we have sent to Companies’ House and use that to model an accurate prediction into what our turnover is and could be year on year based on our current growth and the historic growth of similar companies across the UK.
What’s more, we can look at the historic crime, flood & fire risks for our postcode and see exactly what has occurred across the last few years and how it might be trending.
All this information can appear disparate and only accessible from different websites, and that is exactly why we have built the DFP Risk Atlas to allow access to all of this data (and more) in a single overview.
So, to wrap all that up, and to answer the original question posed ‘What does your data say about your business?’ Exactly the same as your data says about you. A lot! What is important is what someone does with it!
Written by Guy Walker