I had discussion with Jim Fowler, the CEO of JigSaw, a couple of weeks back where he walked me through their new offering, Data Fusion, that JigSaw announced today. Data Fusion is a data-as-a-service offering that allows Salesforce.com customers to buy a large list of prospects with detailed verified contact information provided by JigSaw. There are plenty of legal and ethical issues around how JigSaw acquires the business contact information. Michael Arrington does not like JigSaw and Rafe Needleman calls it one of the creepiest products that he has ever seen. I don't want to argue about these ethical and legal aspects. I would let the other people, users, and customers sort that out.
I find the idea of acquiring such a list to pre-seed a CRM instance with the vetted data is an interesting one that utilizes data-as-a-service. A pre-seeded CRM instance speeds up the adoption of the tool inside an organization since suddenly sales people start seeing value in the tool and are willingly to invest their time into it. This could cause similar kinds of network effects that a social network causes where more people and more data bring in a lot more data. The sales people inside an organization typically view CRM system as an administrative overhead since they don't get any value out of it. They are compensated based on the deals closed and not the data being correct. This dynamics affect the adoption of a CRM tool and the quality of data in it. Pre-seeding a CRM instance with some good data and keeping it clean moving forward could solve this problem.
Jim Fowler says if the organizations have made a conscious decision not to own software by moving to SaaS why should they even own data? That's certainly an interesting take on data-as-a-service to enable SaaS 2.0. There has been an ongoing tension between LOBs and IT since most of the SaaS purchase decisions are initially driven by LOBs and IT is brought into the discussion late in the game. LOB will continue looking for an easy solution that meets their needs and does not require upfront IT involvement. The data-as-a-service certainly has an added value on top of SaaS. I can imagine some "come to Jesus" meetings between LOBs and IT. I would love to be a fly on the wall for some of those meetings!