Mind Readings: You Pay in Time Or Money

I was looking at a paid service the other day that charges $300 a month for data that’s free elsewhere online. I used to hate companies like that, but now I’m okay with them. Here’s why.

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Christopher Penn 0:15

In today’s mind reading, I was looking at a paid service the other day, a patent and trademark service that charges customers 300 a month to provide them with data about patent filings.

And at least here in the United States is where I’m based.

Now, the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides that information for free.

Now saying you’re going, you’re charging300, for the exact same files, I can get over here for free.

Why would I pay you? Well, there’s a couple reasons why companies like this exist.

One is, there’s some folks who are unwilling to do the work to process the data themselves.

Because there is still some processing, what you get out of the federal government is very much government data, government data is known for two things.

completeness, there’s a lot of it very rich, and obscurity, in the sense that it is very difficult to sometimes work with because elaborate data dictionaries is variables, how all sorts of crazy names that are like super condensed abbreviations, leftover from their heritage, and a lot of cases from original databases back on mainframes, back in the 60s and 70s, when these these agencies started using this type of data.

And so to process it in something a little more user friendly, does take a little bit of elbow grease to do it, or you can pay somebody else to do it.

The other thing is that companies might be saying it’s just less, they’re less willing to invest in soft dollars.

To do that, they, they’d rather invest hard dollars.

So instead of having a data analyst on their team, do the work of processing the data, the free data, they’d rather pay another company to have have it done for them.

And then they can just get to work with it and not have to worry about it.

And when I was younger, and much more stingy.

I was rapidly opposed to to even the existence of companies like that, like, you know, that’s, that’s just a ripoff.

But as I’ve gotten older, I see that and go, you know, what, if somebody else can make money, taking someone else’s goods, as long as they have a right to use it, and repackaging it, who might argue with that? Right? Sometimes, if you don’t have the ability to reprocess the data, you just don’t have the time you don’t have the people, as other companies willing to do that.

You know what, that’s fine.

I have no problem with that.

Because in the end, to use this information, we’re gonna pay for it somehow, we’re either gonna pay for it in our time with the free data, or in money with a company that’s repackaging it.

The only case where I would have a problem with companies doing that is if they’re repackaging data they don’t have right to.

So there are a number of services online that will take other people’s data that they did not license and repackage it and resell it.

And that’s not okay.

That is a violation of intellectual property law.

And that’s when the lawyer starts sending cease and desist notices.

But for things like government data, which again, almost all data published by the United States government, and I know for sure, the European Commission, the EU has a lot of public data sources Canada does, too.

For all those things, where everyone, anyone is welcome to use data that’s already paid for by taxpayers.

Hey, if you build a company on top of that, that makes it easier to use faster to use, slices and dices that exactly what customers want.

Great.

In the end, a company that’s doing that is working towards the same goal we all are, which is get people to use data, get people to use data, to make decisions to make better decisions, to move their businesses forward.

And if somebody wants to charge 300 bucks a month, and another person wants to pay for and they’re willing to pay for the fair market value of having somebody else do the work for him.

Again, who am I to argue? So your takeaway is look at the data that you’re paying for, look at the data that’s available for free and say, which do you prefer to do? Do you prefer to have it done for you? Or do you prefer to do it yourself? Either way you pay.

Right? Either way you’re paying in time or money, but which is the more palatable cost? And that comes down to basic ROI, right? What is your return on the investment of your soft dollars and time $100 in monetary costs, which has the higher ROI.

And if you don’t know that you should probably do that calculation.

But if you do know that, it becomes a pretty easy decision, you’d go with the thing that has the higher ROI.

Christopher Penn 5:16

Or the thing that where there’s other business considerations, like, for example, business continuity, if you’re working with a third party can provide you with process data, that you don’t need to rely on internal team talent do that if you have people leaving, thanks to the great resignation.

On the flip side.

If you are concerned about a vendor going out of business and taking your entire model with you, you may want to have talent in house who can also replicate that same data processing in some way so that you’re not left out in the cold if a critical vendor goes away.

So those are some thoughts about time and money you’re paying for in data.

Thanks for watching.

We’ll talk to you soon


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