dots connected with lines representing linkage

Data Talks, Episode 13: Extended Linkage Insights (ELI)

A step beyond legal linkage

Host: George L'Heureux, Principal Consultant, Data Strategy
Guest: Susan Wellenkamp, Data Strategy Consultant

Businesses require a variety of insights on their customer, partner, and vendor relationships. Often they require specialized views mapped to specific business challenges and opportunities.

Extended Linkage Insights (ELI) is a new predictive linkage solution from Dun & Bradstreet that utilizes machine learning to link businesses as a linkage expert would, and capture a wide spectrum of potential relationships including majority ownership, minority ownership, franchise, dealerships, and more. ELI brings together entities that may not be legally linked but have similarities or affiliations, This builds on the more frequently used majority ownership model that identifies business-to-business relationships where majority ownership (greater than 50%) exists.

Learn about ELI, its use cases, and how it provides benefits  - including linkage metadata – beyond legal linkage. 

 

Read full transcript

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 and the Advisory Services team here at Dun & Bradstreet. In Advisory Services our team is dedicated to helping our clients maximize the value of their relationship with Dun & Bradstreet through expert advice and consultation. On Data Talks I get to chat each episode with one of the expert advisors at Dun & Bradstreet about a topic that could help consumers of our data and services to get more value. Today's guest expert is Susan Wellenkamp. Susan is a Data Strategy Consultant at Dun & Bradstreet. Susan, tell me, how long have you been with the company?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Oh goodness. Can we say just over 30 years?

George L’Heureux:
We can say however you'd like.

Susan Wellenkamp:
Yeah, let's go with that. It's been a while, but I've been in many different jobs, but all with Dun & Bradstreet,

George L’Heureux:
Can you tell me a little bit about the work that you do in your role as a data strategy consultant right now?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Absolutely. I work closely with Fortune 1000 companies in bringing together their information with Dun & Bradstreet information to drive business efficiencies and really using information to drive knowledge and actions in the marketplace.

George L’Heureux:
That's great. Susan, one offering that we've been talking about a lot inside of our team recently and with our clients as well is what we call ELI. But what is ELI?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Well, ELI sands for Extended Linkage Insight, and it is one of the new solutions that Dun & Bradstreet has brought to the marketplace. I will add that it is something that our customers have been asking for for years, and years, and years. Dun & Bradstreet is very well known for its legal linkage. Legal linkage is really defined as where one company owns greater than 50% of another company.

George L’Heureux:
What does Extended Linkage Insights bring beyond the legal linkage?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Exactly. What extended linkage does is, it brings together entities that may not be legally linked, but have similarities. It could be alternative relationships like franchisees, franchisors, dealerships, agencies, health care. It could be a number of different relationship types, and then on top of that, extended linkage also brings together through modeling entities that may have affiliations with the parent company, with the bigger structure, the bigger organization.

George L’Heureux:
Can you give me an example of what that modeled linkage might look like?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Absolutely. What we do is, we use evidence scores. One of the things that ELI does is it creates a brand name, and it will look at all of the legally linked entities and create a brand name for those, and then go out into the universe of businesses and identify other businesses that may look similar. They may have similar names. They may have similar industries. They may be in the same location. They may have the same domain. There are actually 11 different evidence scores in ELI that basically bring these groupings together that we can then provide to our customers to understand their expanded relationships.

George L’Heureux:
I would imagine that the strength of those scores and what they look like in combination with each other, we can use those to help explain to clients just how confident we are in that extension of the family tree.

Susan Wellenkamp:
That's exactly right. There's something that we call a source code that basically takes those 11 evidence scores, and with the values, the grades that are in those evidence scores combined together will predict the likelihood, the higher confidence that yes in fact this entity should be considered a part of the broader entity.

George L’Heureux:
So you and I in talking with clients and just really playing with it ourselves inside of Dun & Bradstreet can see just how powerful this extension can be. Is there a reason that we keep it separate from the standard legal linkage?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Well, legal linkage is absolutely crucial to customers. If you're looking at a financial use case as a for instance, they need to know who has financial obligation for a particular deal. If the company is having difficulties paying, who is the organization that owns this other company, so legal linkage is an absolute must. ELI associations are looser than the legal linkage and would include things like, and I had mentioned this before, affiliations through franchisees, through agencies, through dealerships, where you've got a relationship with another business but there's not a legal ownership. We with ELI will tell you that.

George L’Heureux:
So ELI really, because it includes the legal linkage plus all of this additional stuff, it's more of a supplement to our standard legal linkage. It's not a replacement.

Susan Wellenkamp:
It is not. It is absolutely not a replacement. It is used to augment the legal linkage and do it with eyes wide open. So if you're using a financial use case, you really would use ELI data in a different way than say if you were a marketing use case like a go-to-market use case where you're defining territories, or who owns what account, and how are we going to divvy the account up. Here you might be looser in the way you're defining those relationships where you want Joe's territory to include all of the pieces of that organization whether it's legally linked or not.

George L’Heureux:
When you would talk about tighter versus looser, that's not a binary decision though. We've got a dial essentially that clients can use to say just how loosely they want to incorporate extended linkage information.

Susan Wellenkamp:
That's absolutely right. There's a source code that ranges from a three at the lowest to a six at the highest, and again, those evidence scores feed into that. What you're able to do is look specifically at the source code that's associated to a particular record and decide whether you want to include that or not. I've got a customer who uses the extended linkage, and as a for instance, they will pull for their use cases everything that is a source code of a five or higher, and really leave the threes and the fours to manual stewardship where if they've got a particular account that they're reviewing they would have stewards looking at those lower source codes.

George L’Heureux:
So as with most things, it's a combination, a little bit of science and a little bit of art where you can auto accept some things, and say we have to leave the decisions to humans on some of these other things.

Susan Wellenkamp:
That's right. That's right.

George L’Heureux:
So what are some of the other use cases we've seen? We've talked about financial a little bit. We talked about marketing, go-to-market type things. Another area where I think we've seen some success with it is in things like vendor management on that supply side.

Susan Wellenkamp:
Exactly. That's just what I was going to say. Vendor management is a very strong use case. I had a customer who was using extended linkage to pull together all of their vendors, and part of the challenge with legal linkage was, as a for instance let's use an example, they did a lot of business travel before COVID hit, and one of their big vendors was Hilton Hotels. As you may well know, Hilton Hotels is made up of corporate-owned locations, but many of them are franchisees. When this customer was looking to understand all of the spend that they do with Hilton, they don't care whether it's legally owned or if it's a franchise. When they're going in and they're negotiating with Hilton for the discounted rate, they want to show all of the spend that they're bringing to that organization, and so ELI just was perfect for the vendor application.

George L’Heureux:
That's a great example, and I think between the several examples we've talked about, it really illustrates some of the power of ELI to our clients. So I guess if there's someone out there who's not using Extended Linkage Insights and thinks this could be something that could really help them, what do they need to do in order to be able to start using it? What's the interface like for Extended Linkage Insights?

Susan Wellenkamp:
We provide extended linkage through flat files that you could get on a monthly, on a quarterly basis, or you could get it through APIs. Basically what you want to think about is, what is the universe of businesses? Do you want everything that D&B knows about the ELI universe? Or is it certain geographies? Is it a list of your top 2,000 customers, or your top 2,000 vendors? How do you want to define it? There's a lot of flexibility when it comes to defining the specific universe that you're going to take.

George L’Heureux:
Are you able to quantify at all, even in general terms, what some of the benefits are that our clients have seen as a result of beginning to use ELI where they hadn't before?

Susan Wellenkamp:
Absolutely. We did a research study as we were coming to market with the ELI data, and we've estimated ... What you want to understand is, customers are doing this. Businesses are using D&B's legal linkage, but they're augmenting themselves records that they think should be part of the relationship. There's a lot of cost associated to doing that manual work. And the study that we did showed that about 70% of that cost could be avoided, which is huge.

George L’Heureux:
It is.

Susan Wellenkamp:
Now that's not to say that there's not still some work that needs to be done. ELI is a great starting point, but there still might be more that is out there that you want to bring in. Basically, if the evidence scores are not high enough, then we might not bring certain entities into the relationship. You may find that. But one of the really cool things about ELI is there's a feedback evidence score where we will take that feedback in and build it into ELI so it's constantly learning.

George L’Heureux:
That is really neat, and to know that it's not just a finish it, we think we're done, but it's an evolving, it's a growing, it's a learning tool for our customers to be able to use. Susan, as we wrap up, what's the one thing that you hope people who are watching this or listening to this might walk away from this conversation with?

Susan Wellenkamp:
I think it's really around the efficiencies that leveraging the ELI content can bring to bear. It is the cost avoidance. You're probably doing some level of this work today, and basically D&B can bring you, on a platter, a lot of that work so that instead of you having to create it yourself, we're bringing it to you and you're just dealing with potentially some exceptions.

George L’Heureux:
Well Susan, I really appreciate you taking time today to sit with me and chat about this topic. I hope that it's been really useful to a lot of the people watching or listening.

Susan Wellenkamp:
That's great. Thank you so much George.

George L’Heureux:
Our guest expert today has been Susan Wellenkamp, the Data Strategy Consultant at Dun & Bradstreet. This has been Data Talks. I hope you've enjoyed today's episode, and if you have, I encourage you to share it with a friend or a colleague. For more information about what we've discussed on today's episode, please visit www.dnb.com, or talk to your company's Dun & Bradstreet representative today. I'm George L'Heureux. Thanks for joining us. Until next time.