RealTime IT News

ZoomInfo Automates Social Networking

Online social networking isn't for everybody. For those who don't enjoy the social part, there's ZoomInfo, which, thanks to recent enhancement, sports more info than the original version launched in March.

ZoomInfo offers people search via what it calls a "summarization search engine." Its specialized Web crawlers scan Web sites, press releases, electronic news services, SEC filings and other online sources looking for information about people in business.

It then builds an index that includes not only information about the person, but also about what can be inferred about his or her business network. For example, if a company hires someone, ZoomInfo can infer that person has a relationship with other people who work there.

Zoom Information rolled out enhancements to ZoomInfo to automatically build lists of colleagues and relationships. Users can invite others to join their colleague lists, as well. Thanks to another upgrade, they also can contact each other through the service via e-mail, without exposing their private e-mail addresses.

ZoomInfo added automatically generated keywords that are published with each summary to aid searchers in finding similar people or companies.

Russell Glass, director of consumer products for parent company Zoom Information said the new features move the site toward more interactivity.

Searching for a person's name on ZoomInfo returns a summary that might include the person's work history and education. Starting on Monday, summaries also include automatically built lists of colleagues and relationships.

It's also expanded its company summaries, formerly in limited beta release, to include financial information, key employees, the number of employees, Web references and the ability to search for their competitors.

"These are real-time lists," Glass said. "We're able to create a competitor list where no one else would have one, and a deeper list than you could do manually."

ZoomInfo's people search aims to eliminate the painstaking personal contacts required by social networking sites.

Jupiter Research analyst David Card said that, while it's a lot of work getting invitations and inviting other people to link on networks such as LinkedIn, "enough work has been done that there's value to it. ZoomInfo is more passive; it's much more like a search engine." (Jupiter Research and internetnews.com are owned by the same corporation.)

Card saw ZoomInfo as a hybrid of consumer and business service, which can be problematic. "If you really are using this as a headhunter or salesperson, and you want qualified leads, you want to be sure those things are correct," he said. "So, the passiveness or lack of editors could be an issue. Doing it with robots is inherently inaccurate."

To date, the ZoomInfo service is supported by Zoom Information's corporate accounts. Businesses including Blockbuster, Microsoft, Oracle, PepsiAmericas, Pfizer, Raytheon, Staples and Yahoo subscribe to the service for recruiting, sales leads and competitive intelligence. ZoomInfo also makes money by sending traffic to other sites and with sponsored links. It hopes to add revenue by charging for premium services such as enhanced profiles.

Card said the enhancements make ZoomInfo feel more complete, but he'd like to see more. He said, "If you put what they do together with some other features, it would be a really good solution."