Data Available Beyond Consumer Data

By Meta S. Brown

Not all the data you may need is about people. Perhaps you’re more interested in businesses or nonprofit organizations. Maybe you have an interest in thunderstorms, pineapples, or bridges. No problem. Commercial sources can provide data for all these things, and many more.

If data is available that you value enough to consider paying for it, somebody probably is out there ready to sell. This is true of data concerning people and organizations, and also true for data about myriad other things. Some widely used categories include data about

  • Geography and locations

  • Resources and products

  • Weather and climate

Many of the kinds of data that you use to understand people and their behavior have equivalents for businesses and other organizations. Basic descriptive facts about people, such as age, gender, and income, are called demographics. Similar information about organizations is called firmographics. Information about an organization’s financial status, financial transactions, or connections to people and things is also often available through commercial sources.

Richer data is often available for organizations than for individual people. Organizations, especially publicly held corporations and nonprofit organizations, are often obliged to make information about their finances and activities public, and even many private companies choose to share some information. In addition, data suppliers may have more liberty to research and share business information than information about people, and even those who offer opt-out options to consumers may not do so for organizations.