July 2014 saw Companies House openly commit themselves to offering all of their digital data free of charge by the end of June 2015. The idea came after some serious self-evaluation from the government agency following a strategy review a few years ago. The move arrives soon after the agency’s significant shift to “The Companies House Service”, a new unified approach to the way in which Companies House operates.
The Companies House Service saw its beta launch towards the end of 2014, replacing the separate filing and search services with a new RESTful API. This updated interface allows both Companies House and third parties to straightforwardly create filing and searching facilities. To support this change on the technical side, a NoSQL MongoDB infrastructure is also replacing the relational Oracle database.
“It has been very well received”, says Companies House chief executive Tim Moss, of the Companies House Service system. “We’re now in the process of moving to full public access, and then also making sure all the information is released free through that service.”
“Ultimately the purpose of the registry is to provide information”, Moss continues. “The registration piece is just the input bit, but actually how do we support the economy? We support the economy by providing data and allowing people to make decisions, compare companies they’re going to do business with or not”.
With regard to achieving the projected timeframe for offering all digital data free of charge, Moss remains confident. “We’re on track to deliver that and we think it’s a game changer for the UK business information market. It’s a really important thing for Companies House and a big shift for us as an organisation”.
Upwards of 80% of the data Companies House currently receives is now filed digitally and Moss asserts that their output is around 99.9% digital. “We’re well on our way” he states. “Our aim is to push on the input side to get up to the 90s and beyond”.
Moss has also made it clear that the digital agenda remains the number one focus for Companies House. The overarching strategy for the agency is to continue evolving until it can truly be considered a register that is completely digital.