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    (April 11, 2002) - About 30 minutes from the San Diego airport is a little instant town called Poway. Poway has distinguished itself as the "City in the Country" and is characterized by lush, mature landscaping, rolling foothills, miles of hiking, riding and jogging trails, over 3,000 acres of dedicated open space, and many recreational facilities; including Lake Poway and the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve.

    It's also the home of ERISS, a small company that claims to be the leading provider of job market surveys and interactive web applications. We suppose they've never heard of Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, Apple or a couple of others. They are, however, a very sophisticated call center devoted exclusively to the delivery of job market surveys. They call each and every employer within a defined area and gather very detailed information on salary, job openings, attrition, hiring requirements and so on.

    The company, so far, works exclusively for federal, state and local governments producing detailed pictures of local employment markets on an employer by employer basis. It's tough work and they are incredibly disciplined about the processes through which they incrementally improve the percentage of their calls that are completed. With something like a 25% completion rate, it is fair to say that no other operation we know of is as predictably accurate in its assessment of the dynamics of specific marketplaces. To date, they have actively surveyed nearly 200,000 businesses and have detailed data on HR contacts, hiring requirements, turnover and so on.

    On first listening, you'd be tempted to believe that ERISS has a lock on the marketplace for intelligence and data on the entire domestic American marketplace. In fact, their assets are somewhat more humble. They have an aggressively successful data collection machine but, you have to pay to have the data collected. Depending on who you ask, the number of employers in our economy is somewhere between 4 and 12 Million. That means that ERISS has real data on between 2% and 5% of the available universe. Our estimate is that a complete inventory (at a 25% success rate) would end up costing between $100 Million and $300 Million  with data maintenance costs running about 60% of that per quarter.

    That's not so outrageous when you think of it. In the data collected (with machine like precision) by the ERISS call center would be radical alternatives to the data provided by the US Department of Labor including very localized unemployment statistics in real time, moment to moment industry data, real connections with real employers, labor market dynamics, local supply and demand, lead generation and a host of other interesting pieces.

    If you need labor market information about Phoenix, Chicago, Southern California, Tampa, Indianapolis, Lubbock, TX or Greater Richmond, there are no resources on the web that come close to offering the flexibility or completeness of USWorks, a web based product produced by ERISS as a part of their research for various local governments. One can easily imagine the power of the tool if ever taken to completion. It's just that teensy weensy little question of who pays and why. If you were selling employment advertising or related products in the areas that they have actually covered, you would do well to consider USWorks a fundamental lead list. The data available from a deep scour of the website is astonishing.

    If you were building a local business in online employment advertising, you might consider hiring ERISS to generate specific leads. They may be able to accomplish more cost effectively than any other tool we've seen. We're not certain that they're ready to sell such a service but it's a very logical business extension.

    We know that the Chicago Tribune, for all of its investment riches, is continually losing ground in the local classified advertising market. We know of no other source for the information that only 44% of the telemarketing opportunities in Chicago are advertised in newspapers (many in the fifty or so small competitors to the Trib who are also detailed in the USWeb Data). The survey data is good enough so that an account manager in change of telemarketing jobs could identify key employers with predictable needs, call, make the pitch and close the deal.

    Whether or not ERISS is viable as a long term player in our universe, the vast scope and detail available in their web materials ought to make everyone in the industry stand back for a moment and think about what's possible. Assuming that our industry is worth between $15 and $25 Billion per year, the effect of spending a couple hundred million on real base lining of the data is worth considering. So far, all the company has is a method and a couple of demonstrations. In the right hands, with the right investment, they open the possibility of real market ownership.

    - John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.



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    Copyright © 2013 interbiznet. All rights reserved.
    Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
    Mill Valley, CA 94941

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