Jennifer B. Davis
Remember in the childhood game of hide and seek, when you found the person who was hiding you'd exclaim, "I found you!" This search would involve traditional methods like looking under and behind things and listening closely for giggles uttered by those so consumed by their own cleverness in finding the perfect hiding spot that they unwittingly revealed themselves.

Well, I learned of a company from my colleague Patrick, that seeks to employ the web in a professional version of hide and seek. Utilizing methods like "Natural Language Extraction, Artificial Intelligence Algorithms, and Information Integration Logic" (whew!) they scour the web and consolidate their findings into profiles of nearly 31 million business professionals and 2.5 million companies. The company is zoominfo (Waltham, Mass) and they call themselves a "summation search engine." The net result is that you can search the site for a person or coompany and find everything that has been written about them or by them and published online. It is unclear as to whether or not they search blog content.

They are selling the tool to HR professionals as a way to find targeted candidates. Recruiters can now find people with specific employment history or those associated with thought leadership in certain industries. They can search up to 20 different characteristics to locate the right person for the job. They are also showing it as a LinkedIn alternative.

The company profiles are very interesting. They are like mini-DNB reports, showing revenue, employees, and contact information. With their premium package, apparently, you can also find competitors or employees of this company. Talk about redefining "hide and seek."

I am wondering if there are other uses for this data set? Could the tools be used in a predictive sense? For instance, rather than just showing the candidates past mentions and job titles, could the site use algorithms to indicate which companies people may be attracted to based on a host of criteria? This might be useful for job seekers or college placement departments, who could help candidates find jobs not only based on location and job descriptions, but also on company culture and strategy. Could it help companies find customers that share particular problem sets/pain points?
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