Why You Need Technographics

If your sales and marketing teams are reaching out to prospective buyers, being relevant is an essential component of gaining interest. Given all the companies competing for a prospect’s attention, if you’re not able to hook your audience with some phrase, comment, or insight that shows you know something about them, chances are your message will be ignored.

If your company offers a B2B technology product or service, one of the most valuable pieces of information you can know about your account is if they are using a technology product that competes with or complements your own offering. Knowing this allows you to prioritize which accounts to pursue, and reach out to your prospects with a message that’s relevant and directly addresses their pain points.

Technographics from HG Insights enable you to get a complete picture of the technology footprint for your key accounts or prospects, including:

– an organization’s core hardware and software stack

– whether the technology is on-premise or in the cloud

– the likelihood of a particular technology being installed

– and approximately when the company deployed or stopped using the technology

This is information you can use to out-market, out-sell and outgrow your competition.

Limitations of Current Methods for Curating Technographics – Quality & Scale

Phone Surveys

Technographics are not new. People have been collecting technology installation information for decades. Back in the 60s, employees would get on phones and conduct surveys to gather the information they were looking for. In fact, the method was so effective that some companies still use it today – only they use teams of highly skilled analysts to make the phone calls and extract the information. However, this approach is not very scalable. For example, you might find a vendor chooses a very particular niche, and maybe they’ll track 5,000 companies in a particular category.

Digital Scraping

There are also other companies that track technographics using a simple technique that digitally scrapes the code from a website. For example, if a company is using Google Analytics, Omniture, Marketo, or something where the code is readily available on the website, there are companies who can provide you with this digital signature information. But this type of approach will not give you any information on hardware or software technologies that do not leave a digital footprint, leaving you with an incomplete profile. Oftentimes the information is also inaccurate as a lot of legacy code remains on a website long after a product or service is no longer in use.

Salesforce digital scrape
Example of source code on web revealing a Salesforce installation

Example of source code on web revealing a Salesforce installation (click image to enlarge)


A third method of gathering technographics involves the use of models. For example, some third-party data providers will identify a very small number of companies that use a certain type of CRM or marketing automation platform and then proceed to build a model to extrapolate other companies who may be using the same technology. This approach is interesting, but most models simply do not have enough data to deliver anything more than a calculated guess, which, at best, provides inconsistent results.

Solving the Technographics Quality and Scale Issue

When we started HG Insights, we decided our approach to collecting technographics would be based on answering two questions:

1. How do we build the most accurate data set available?

2. How do we do this at scale worldwide?

In order to achieve what we were after, we felt we needed the ability to process as much data as we could so that we could develop accurate, verifiable business intelligence. Doing this would require a solution capable of not just processing clean, pre-parsed data sets, but also extracting facts from billions of messy, unstructured documents in a wide range of formats.  This was a problem that had never been fully solved at the scale in which we operate.

In our case, we felt it was essential to use advanced machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) techniques as part of our data curation process. So we invested in a team of really smart engineers and data scientists to develop algorithms and training sets that can auto-generate rules.

This means that every time we learn something new, whether we get something wrong and want to correct it, or we get something right and want to repeat it, we have a very sophisticated environment and platform that allow us to do that. This is how we achieved our goals of accuracy and scale.

How We Derive Value for Our Customers at Scale

One of the things that sets HG Insights apart is the amount of data we process on a daily basis. We don’t use models to build our dataset because we know that when you start with really high-quality, factual, and empirical data, you’re going to get a better result. We also have a quality team dedicated to purchasing, licensing and vetting documents from a variety of providers, to ensure we build our technographics from the best sources possible.

In brief, we:

1. parse through billions of documents and more than 22 different document types,

2. digitize the information in a massive document repository,

3. use our unique IP, consisting of natural language processing, machine learning, algorithms, and analytics, to analyze and provide context for the insights we produce,

4. and perform human validation of statistically relevant samples and independent phone surveys to ensure we’re providing our customers with quality business intelligence.

Build Process

When you’re processing documents at this scale, you need to have a system that can quickly tell the difference between words that mean different things and put them into context. For example:

– Cisco, Texas vs. a Cisco router

– Salesforce CRM vs. a global salesforce

These are very simple examples, but there are literally thousands of examples just like this that any solution parsing big data needs to consider in order to scale and derive value. At HG Insights, we’ve had more than seven years of practice  developing and refining our algorithms and training sets to extract the right insights for our customers.

The science we’ve created allows us to consistently aggregate facts at scale. For instance, it’s one thing to hear a fact one time from a company on a specific point in time, but it’s quite another thing to hear that fact hundreds or thousands of times over an expansive or compressed period of time. When you amass and are able to parse through that much data, a clear story begins to emerge about what technologies companies are using, the rate of technology adoption, and other important trends our customers find very useful.

Democratizing Access to Technographics

For the last several years, we’ve been hyper-focused on nailing our technology and data curation process, much less so on creating experiences and integrations around that data. Consequently, we’ve sold our data primarily to Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 technology companies because they are the ones with the staff knowledgeable enough to work with large and complicated data feeds.

Now that we’ve established our expertise in the technology and data aspects of our business, we’re entering the next phase in which we’re democratizing access to the intelligence our data provides. Our goal is to make sure that all companies in the B2B world, including small to midsize companies, are as successful with our data as our Fortune 500 customers, many of whom have been using our technographics for years.

One big step we’ve taken in that direction is the release of our new HG for Salesforce App, which allows teams to use technographics directly from Salesforce, the most widely-used CRM. With this app, you can use our tech install information to create campaign segments, score and prioritize leads, and deploy workflows and triggers to build more intelligent business processes.

> Learn more about HG for Salesforce

In addition, we recently launched our HG Audience segments which now enable digital advertisers to hyper-target their digital display ads using technographic in hundreds of different advertising technology platforms.

> Learn more about HG Audience Segments

To get this article as a PDF white paper, including customer quotes:

>  download it here.

About HG Insights: The Trusted Leader in Technographics

HG Insights offers the most comprehensive technographics in the industry, indexing billions of unstructured documents each day – including B2B social media, case studies, press releases, blog posts, government documents, content libraries, technical support forums, website source code, job postings, and much more – to produce a detailed census of the technologies companies use to run their business.

Learn how you can start using technographics to maximize the impact of your marketing and sales programs by visiting our technographics page.
best in class technographics