Grab a Partner, Do-Si-Do
Premium content vendors seek partnerships with technology vendors because these types of integrations provide a way to deliver premium content directly to workers' desktops. The better that content is incorporated into the workflow, the more valuable it is to employees as they go about their daily tasks.
Elizabeth Rector, SVP of corporate and federal markets at LexisNexis, says that the company has formed partnerships with several portal vendors including Plumtree, Microsoft Sharepoint, IBM WebSphere, and Hummingbird. "The LexisNexis Portal Components are platform-neutral and designed to integrate with any enterprise portal platform. We also offer our expertise in building taxonomies so our customers can better organize their vast amounts of data. With these integrations, employees can then find the information that they need to quickly and successfully perform their tasks," Rector says, adding, "LexisNexis also helps customers integrate their content into existing applications using XML output from the LexisNexis Web Services Kit." This tool can also be used by partners to incorporate LexisNexis content into vendor offerings.
A significant factor that prompted Factiva to team up with Microsoft was the ability to get direct access to the masses of Microsoft-dominated desktops. Scott says that with an estimated 271 million desktops running Office—a number expected to grow significantly over the next several years—it makes sense to integrate the content into tools that people already use every day. "The partnership with Microsoft allowed us to integrate more effectively into Office. Now we have Factiva information and content flowing within the Microsoft environment," Scott says.
Can RSS Play, Too?
In the various routes premium content providers are using to deliver content to the desktop, the RSS XML syndication standard may have a role to play in the future. Right now, however, while premium content vendors don't dismiss it completely, they seem to have varying degrees of interest in delivering content using RSS technology.
LexisNexis, for one, believes its own products work better than RSS. "If the interest is to display current news topics on their intranet or Internet Web sites, LexisNexis Publisher is a much more flexible solution than a typical RSS feed in that an editor can set up a wide variety of custom topics from thousands of legitimate news sources, select the presentation style, and if they wish, receive the results in HTML or XML feed," Rector says.
News Technologies, maker of TriggerNews software, aims to make RSS compete with the big boys in delivering relevant content directly to users. By using keywords in conjunction with an RSS feed, TriggerNews pushes targeted news to a desktop application that sits in the Windows system tray and alerts users when there is relevant news (based on keyword, RSS feed, or editorial decision). Steve Burrows, president and founder of News Technologies, thinks that some content providers may be threatened by RSS.
"From an industry perspective, everyone is a little afraid of RSS, especially newspapers. By giving an RSS reader to end users, content providers are a little concerned users will get content from the competition, as opposed to coming to them for the content. I think there is a little bit of avoidance of RSS, but I think it's an idea whose time has come, and as a result, content providers are being forced to do something about it," Burrows says. When Burrows shows the client the TriggerNews Product that bears the content provider's brand, he says, "that's when they get really excited by it because they see that it helps keep end users' eyeballs on their own content as opposed to marching off elsewhere to get it."
Factiva has not fully embraced RSS, but they have experimented with it, and included RSS capability as a customized service. "We think RSS technology shows promise. We have been experimenting with it; we did an RSS feed with the Tsunami news where you can get publicly available news around the Tsunami. We believe it's something important that our clients are asking questions about. Some of the issues we have are around authentication and security, but those are some things we are working on, and we do think it will be significant in the marketplace," Scott says.
Ultimately, whatever the service or function, fee-based information services are working hard to maintain the high value to end users that is necessary to merit high price tags. Without a doubt, they must make it easier for workers to access, manipulate, and incorporate premium content into their work and must examine and leverage emerging technologies to do so. As Blossom puts it, "Content finds premium value when it has the most valuable human context possible."
Companies Featured in this Article
Thomson Dialog www.dialog.com
News Technologies www.triggernews.com
Yankee Group www.yankeegroup.com