With an increasing proliferation of databases these days, it can become hard for a business to make sure it is properly represented in multiple data products. That’s because every database producer collects data in different ways and updates it at different times. Increasingly, data producers are licensing data from third parties, and with increasingly sophisticated matching and overlays, it’s often difficult to even say with certainty where certain data elements are coming from. And if all this is complicated to the data producer, imagine how overwhelming it is for the typical business owner.

That’s why opportunities are emerging for what might be called authority databases. These are databases where a business owner supply their information and keep it current. The information about the business is represented exactly as the business owner wants it, and is the most current information available. The database owner then arranges with other data companies to use this data and treat it as definitive. The advantage to the business owner is that business details only have to be entered and maintained in one place. The advantage to the data companies using the data is a trusted source of authenticated information. Business models vary. Currently, the business is generally paying a fee to participate, but there’s no reason the data companies using the data shouldn’t pay. In an ideal situation, both parties would pay.

Do such databases exist? Indeed they do. Universal Business Listings has for a number of years offered an authority database where businesses could input authoritative data on their companies. Universal then syndicated this data to hundreds of online databases, getting them to accept it as authoritative. That’s an important little detail, because it prevents this data from being overwritten by data coming in from other sources.

You’ve probably also heard about new regulations meant to increase the accuracy of health plan provider directories. Wouldn’t it be great for physicians if they could enter their basic information in one place where it could be picked up by all the health plans they are associated with? Well, a non-profit organization called CAQH is doing just that. The benefit to the health plan is that it doesn’t have to constantly chase its plan physicians to re-confirm their information. The benefit to physicians, who can be affiliated with a dozen or more plans, is the efficiency of maintaining their information in just one place, rather than having to provide it over and over again, endlessly to multiple plans.

These are just two examples of authority databases. Hopefully they’ll get you thinking about your own market, and whether there might be an authority database opportunity in your future.