Sun, 02 Feb 2003

Business directory on CD-ROM helps you find leads

Zatni Arbi, Columnist, Jakarta,

Seven years ago, I worked in partnership with a friend from Singapore and started a small direct mail business in Jakarta. We hired three young girls whose job was mainly to collect names, addresses, phone numbers and company names and enter them onto our computers. The lists were then stored in a database that we offered to customers who wanted to promote their products and services through direct mailing.

Unfortunately, I soon found out that the work was quite boring and took too much of my time. So, I resigned and went back to being a contributor and writer, which is far more interesting. However, during the few months I worked with this friend I learned more than just a few things. I learned that the lists had to be regularly verified and updated. I also learned that the databases could be very useful -- especially for businesses that were interested in targeted marketing. * Database of businesses

Last November, I received a B2B Indonesia Business Directory 2002-2003 CD-ROM from PT Dataindo Inti Swakarsa (PT DIS). Somehow, the CD-ROM got lost underneath stacks of magazines and company profiles on my shelves, and I just found it again last week. As this product is still relevant, I installed it on my PC and tried it out to see what it had to offer.

PT DIS, in cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Trade and Industry and some other organizations, has built an impressive database of Indonesian companies that can be used for multiple purposes. You can use it to market your products, find the right suppliers, contact the right persons, check out tax and duty tariffs, etc.

The B2B Indonesia Business Directory on CD-ROM can be purchased in five different access levels: Standard, Classic, Gold and Platinum. that's four!With the CD-ROM, I got the standard access level. It had a list of 60,000 names of companies and organizations -- including business associations such as the Association of Indonesian Retailing Merchants. It also has the names of 80,000 executives, too. There is also a list of 10,000 e-mail addresses. Well, this is something that I would really like to ask marketers not to use as freely as they wish, because we already have so much spam in our Inboxes that it has become a very annoying problem. The list of e-mail addresses may be useful for very specific purposes, but certainly, unsolicited e-mail is hardly welcome any more.

The database also has 300 industry sectors, 10,000 product types and 6,000 brands. With an upgraded access, such as the Rp 5.5 million Platinum, a much broader range of data will become available to you, including Indonesia's Export and Import Tariffs and Taxes, and comprehensive trade statistics for the last five years. The Gold access level, which would cost you Rp 1.1 million, will allow you to print mailing labels directly from inside the program, for example.

* Ease of use

Installation of the B2B Indonesia database was eventless. If you purchase an access level higher than the standard, you will be required to contact the publisher to get the access password. You can choose English or Indonesian during program installation and use.

During installation, B2B Indonesia asks you whether you want to copy the databases onto your hard disk. If you do, you will not have to insert the CD-ROM each time you want to use the database. Besides, the search will be much faster, too. However, it will take up 400 MB of hard disk space. If you are a mobile professional who regularly uses the database, you should just do it.

As I learned during the few months with the direct mail company, a database like this will not be of much use unless the data is current. There is a facility inside the program that companies can use to update their data online to ensure the accuracy of the database. For a premium, they will also be placed on top of the list and printed in bold red characters for prominence. It means that the user of this database can be sure of the accuracy of the data.

To find the address of The Jakarta Post, for example, you can use different approaches. You can use the Tree and scroll down to the letters TH, and then click on it. The program will give you the list of organizations with names starting with the letters TH. Or, you can enter the name in the box provided on top. You can even enter the name of an office tower, such as Chase Plaza, and the program will give you a list of all the tenants in that building. Enter the name of a street, and you will get the names of all companies in that street.

This CD-based database can also be very useful if you want to look up the categorization of industry and business sectors. It also contains data on other countries, although it may not really be the latest. Perhaps a Web search engine will give you more up- to-date results. * Wish list

This database contains a variety of information, and the program has a lot of features. A casual computer user will not be able to use it confidently without the help of an easy-to-follow manual. The booklet in which the CD-ROM was shipped did not really provide the instructions on how to use the software. I guess, a simple manual would help tell users not only what is available on the CD-ROM but also how to access them.

A company profile of the publisher is also absent. For a product like this, I think a brief description of the publisher should be included under "About Us". Furthermore, in terms of software design, it would be nice if the user interface could be made a little more flexible by allowing you to move the panels around.

More serious is perhaps that, when searching a long list, it is impossible for you to multitask as the program keeps appearing on the top of the other running applications on the screen. It is not possible, for example, to read e-mail while B2B is searching the list of goods imported from New Zealand.

Apart from these gripes, B2B Indonesia Business Directory on CD-ROM is a really useful product. It is more than just a yellow pages directory, as it classifies the companies according to their business sectors, etc. It can be a very helpful marketing resource, too. But, then again, if you use it for your marketing campaigns, please do exercise discretion in using those e-mail addresses.