Customized Desktop Content: New Information Power for the Knowledgeable Worker

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Make News Actionable
The big news at Factiva is not its content riches, but rather its suite of integration products, which turn its databases into decision-making tools. According to Pat Sabosik, Factiva vice president and director of global marketing, "As we move up the content value chain, there's our news…and our news in context. If you're going to make a decision," she asks, "how do you make news actionable? If a company's doing well, you might want to up your proposal. If it's not, you might want to cut back your proposal or put it on a credit watch." Sabosik explains that Factiva dissolves the difference between internal and external content, through partner-developed applications of its integration products, "With Factiva Fusion," she says, "we work with the client's IT department to provide a set of normalized, indexed data that enables the organization to search both their internal content and our news files at the same time, and come up with a unified set of search results." Sabosik adds that this extends even beyond the desktop, pointing out Factiva's XML feed that pushes profiled news to a handheld device.

At the Lois Paul & Partners public relations agency, associates must track media coverage of their clients day-by-day and even hour-by-hour. Rich Wadsworth, manager of research services, says that 80 associates use Factiva directly, "Everyone here has their own account. They can go in and customize it for the specific accounts they're working on, and even more specifically, for the roles they play within those accounts." Wadsworth explains that even customizing an individual worker's Factiva profile is a team effort, with assistance from Wadsworth's department and Factiva support. His own staff also uses Factiva, especially its advanced search capabilities, to do complex searches for the associates.

The benefits of these Factiva applications, Wadsworth explains, relate to the time-sensitive nature of his firm's work. "The biggest thing is that it enables the associates to save time," according to Wadsworth. "The second thing is that some of the more prominent publications are available in the service earlier than they would be on the newsstand. This allows our people to get the news before it is news, which can be very helpful in alerting our clients to stories that will be coming out."

Get It Where You Want It
COMTEX News Network is one of the most widely syndicated news aggregators, blending hundreds of news sources into topical wires for over 1,000 clients, including numerous Web sites and online services. Its most creative applications, however, occur in its enterprise accounts, where the full power of Applink, its customization tool, can be applied. COMTEX CEO Charles Terry's mantra is: "Getting the right content to the right person at the right time is the application." In the face of news on free Web sites, Terry re-emphasizes the critical importance of one-click access, "Having the news embedded in the desktop application makes it a lot more valuable for the sales rep than going to some free news site and having to figure out a search."

Although the knowledge worker won't actually see it, Terry emphasizes the sophisticated cataloging and analysis that underlie the added value with which companies like COMTEX infuse raw content. For example, says Terry, "The most used metadata item is the ticker symbol. All of the trading and personal investor applications use it, yet it's one of the hardest value-adds to do and do right." He explains, "There might be a press release about a merger and one company's ticker symbol is on it and the other is not. We pick up all of the synonyms and aliases: Big Blue, IBM, International Business Machines." According to Terry, the next most common metadata are industry categories like healthcare, for example, in which COMDEX employs a 3,500-word taxonomy.

COMTEX's synonyms and industry descriptors are used not only in preparing subject-oriented wires and feeds; the metadata can also be used by clients to apply yet another layer of customization. Terry says, "Once they get our content, they can use its metadata to route it wherever they want."

Content Context
Customizing content is the core business for Clientelligence, which uses COMTEX content to support the work of its sales force clients. According to Board Chairman and CEO Scott Lucas, his firm carries content analysis into new territory, "Clientelligence allows salespeople to leverage the knowledge that they have of their clients," says Lucas, "by gathering not only information that is appropriate to their business interests, but also to their personal interests. We're able to provide support and information based upon the needs and goals of the client, and that's not existing out in the business world now."

Instead of relying upon standard search front-ends, Clientelligence's analysts use the company's proprietary information analysis system to extract the key, client-centered data. As Lucas says, "We specialize in parsing content that meets specific client interests, and COMTEX is a necessary starting point."

OneSource aggregates business, news, and company data. Its Applink tool allows total aggregation of OneSource content, according to Bill Schumacher, senior vice president for content. He observes that: "More and more it's evolving that the information is embedded in existing desktop applications. We have customers who are integrating company, industry, and executive information into a CRM, a portal, or even into an analytical model. The information is put completely into the context of the business process."

OneSource marketing vice president Yvonne Cekel explains that integrated content can leverage the enterprise's entire information infrastructure. "Typically, the customers who are engaging upon this have already made the investment in a portal or in CRM, and they're now finding that the uptake of those apps are not meeting their expectations," she says. "One of the reasons is that there's not enough useful content flowing into those apps to bring the field organizations to them. The real issue becomes linking internal content to the external business information. We're creating a user experience where all relevant data are coming together into the application that the user is most familiar and comfortable with, so they don't have to jump around to other environments to get different pieces of data."

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