The 'Voice' of Dun & Bradstreet Speeds Credit Clearing in Britain

Article excerpt

LONDON -- The voice on the telephone is pleasant and well modulated. There is no reason for the caller to think he is listening to a computer, relating concisely the data he has requested. Nor does he realize that the computer's electronic data passes several times across the Atlantic even while he is taking down the facts.

The system is called DunsVoice. It is the latest credit clearing service from the Dun & Bradstreet Corp., and it has been available in Britain since Jan. 1 after three years' service in the U.S. -- where DunsVoice already has some 8,000 customers.

Among the many British firms that have signed up for service, or have it under consideration at the moment, are such prestigious organizations are British Airways, Duracell, and Thorn EMI. French and Dutch versions should be available later in the year, and DunsVoice intends to tackle the complicated task of integrating the service across Europe in 1987.

The introduction of DunsVoice is, in many ways, a textbook example of how modern technology is transforming a leading organization in the financial information field.

Dun & Bradstreet's basic business -- providing well-researched information about the standing and creditworthiness of companies so that its customers can make informed decisions -- is still the same. Technology, however, has influenced its business three big ways: in how it collects the basic data; in how it collates and analyzes the data; and in how it delivers reports.

Key to Expansion of Market

Dun & Bradstreet is developing its technology base in Britain through its European Business Information Center in suburban London. DunsVoice is only one of several delivery mechanisms the company uses, but in many ways it is the key to how the company is trying to expand its market.

Before the application of high technology became feasible, mailed or telephoned requests for information about companies would have involved a manual search through paper files and compiling a detailed business report on paper.

Today, Dun & Bradstreet holds all that information in a data base stored in the memories of large computers and gives its customers access through a variety of electronic means.

The flagship service is DunsPrint, through which information held in the database can be supplied directly to the customer's personal computer, dumb terminal or teleprinter. Then there is DunsTel, in which a local call puts the customer in touch with a Dun & Bradstreet consultant who provides the required information over the telephone. …