Cashing In on Your Data: How to Monetize Your Unstructured and Structured Data

Not many companies have penetrated the market like Herold Business Data GmbH, a top publisher of phone books, special guides and other reference materials in Austria. Two-thirds of Austrians ages 14 to 65 conduct a search every six months using one of Herold’s print, online or mobile platforms. HEROLD.at, one of the biggest websites in Austria, reaches more than 23 percent of active Internet users in the country.


Enterprise NoSQL provides the necessary horsepower to accelerate development.


HEROLD possesses a tantalizing stockpile of information, including 3.6 million phone numbers and data on 360,000 businesses. However, the company faced a common problem in trying to monetize its stockpile of data after it purchased a directory business.

Much of its valuable information—including product information, user reviews, ratings, photos and text descriptions—was unstructured and spread across 15 separate data systems. As a result, HEROLD’s huge treasure trove of data could not be aggregated and structured in a way that allowed it to be turned into new revenue-driving products.

As HEROLD explored new products to satisfy ever-more demanding consumers, it realized traditional relational databases could not handle the big data challenge it faced.

Like many companies struggling with integrating vast amounts of data from different sources, HEROLD turned to a new approach: MarkLogic, an Enterprise NoSQL database platform, which is able to easily ingest large amounts of structured and unstructured data.

HEROLD’s 15 different systems were aggregated into a central repository. With this simpler and less complex infrastructure, the company was able to begin developing new products from its merged data stores in only six months.

With its streamlined data pipeline, HEROLD created a powerful new product search tool, which allowed consumers to easily find products and information across its diverse directory portal. The searches are served up faster and more precisely, improving customer satisfaction.

From this product search function, HEROLD also created a maintenance and fulfillment product, which allows customers to search for the product they want and then have it shipped to their home or to a brick-and-mortar store for pickup.

And that’s just for starters. Thanks to its richer data stores, HEROLD has already identified nine possible monetization options.

Many other companies are thinking along the same lines. In a recent survey, IT executives said they believe big data will shape the future by driving three key areas for opportunities: creating new business models (54 percent), discovering new product offers (52 percent) and monetizing data to external companies (40 percent).