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Nov 15, 2006

December 2006 Issue

Reed Elsevier

With some of the most widely recognized vertical content offerings under its corporate umbrella, Reed Elsevier might be tempted to stick to its tried-and-true formula for global success. But, as its executives know, staying on top of the information industry takes constant innovation and expansion. In 2006, the U.K.-based company did both, breathing new life into its banner products with powerful new tools and tapping into some of the world's biggest markets for the first time.

Reed Elsevier has already bridged the pond—it is based jointly out of the United Kingdom and United States—but this year this content company turned its sights east, with major expansion into China and India. Its Chinese efforts have been spearheaded by Shan Mei, the newly appointed Chairman of Reed Elsevier in China. LexisNexis China was launched in 2005, and since then Mei has been working to integrate and adapt Reed Elsevier products for use in government and commercial operations. Late last year, Reed Elsevier also began laying the groundwork and forging partnerships for entry into what it sees as the biggest future markets for its products: Brazil, Russia, and India.

In the professional world, an open web search will inevitably miss critical information and Reed Elsevier's vertical databases and search tools have catered to niche markets—like law, medicine, and business—for years, but a few key acquisitions expanded its reach into new areas. For instance, its April 2006 acquisition of Gold Standard, a clinical drug database and software service in the United States, now allows health care professionals to access up-to-date pharmaceutical news cultivated by experienced pharmacists. Zibbsearch.nl debuted in early 2006 in the Netherlands for improved business-to-business and industry news searching, and since then has launched in the United States and the United Kingdom as Zibb.com.

Reed Elsevier also continues to forge strategic ties with content companies and professional organizations. Its agreement with Google provides some of Reed Elsevier's free products with a reliable advertising model. The American Bar Association and American Bankers Association are among the professional organizations that have teamed with Reed Elsevier to come up with extensions of popular applications that cater specifically to the needs of thousands of professionals.

Reed Business Information (RBI), Reed Elsevier's U.S.-based publishing branch, took a major step into the digital content arena this year when it announced the creation of a new division, Reed Business Interactive. Headed by RBI's chief internet officer, Jeff DeBalko, Reed Business Interactive is one of the first major magazine companies to publish content directly to digital for many of its business publications. Of RBI's 80 publications, over half will have digital editions by the end of this year, according to DeBalko. Although the company has been making copies of its print publications available on the web for nearly four years, DeBalko sees Reed Business Interactive as an exciting new way for his company to find new readers and cater to the needs of existing ones.

"At RBI, we embrace digital content, invest in it, and use it to lead our markets. Digital publishing is no exception. Our effective deployment of this technology also allows us to reduce costs, deliver innovative products, and expand our markets—for example internationally, where print distribution is prohibitive," says DeBalko.

RBI isn't the only branch of the Reed Elsevier family to embrace new technologies in order to bring better content to its users faster. Elsevier's medical database now offers weekly podcasts with the latest news to supplement its print material. Full-text blog feeds via Newstex Blogs on Demand have been integrated into LexisNexis for easier searching and instant on-point access to updates and news. And, in June 2006, LexisNexis announced that it would be launching the Congressional Hearings Digital Collection, which will be the largest online collection of Congressional information in the country.

DeBalko says, "Like most information companies, our online business is rapidly becoming the centerpiece of our value proposition to our customers." So while Reed Elsevier may be one of the largest companies in the content industry, it remains agile—willing to flex its digital content muscles to remain in the forefront of the evolving information marketplace.

—Jessica Dye

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SDL International

SDL International is a multinational par excellence, with 50 offices in 30 different countries. This means adapting to diverse cultural norms, languages, and markets on a daily basis. While many companies might see this as a hurdle, for a company in the global information management industry, it is actually quite an advantage. Chairman and CEO Mark Lancaster says, "Over the last few years we have seen the internet explode around us driving a faster and more competitive landscape."

If ever there was a time for global information management, it is now. The web has made the world a smaller place, but this hasn't decreased its complexity. To help organizations adapt to the expanding universe, Lancaster says his company "focuses on the provision of technology and services to accelerate the delivery of global content across an enterprise. Our goal and vision is to provide the industry with complete solutions that enable global corporations to achieve higher customer experience levels as well as increased revenues and profits."

Like most of us, SDL believes that one of the best things about the internet is its ability to bring together disparate groups of people. This creates enormous opportunity, but companies that wish to participate in the world market face many challenges. Lancaster says, "On the one hand, economic and technological advances make global trade easier; on the other hand, managing global information for different languages and cultures is a complex and difficult business issue." SDL is constantly working to meet these new needs by offering a wide range of products, from authoring, to content management, publishing, and translation.

A very basic challenge many global companies face is language. Although English tends to be the favored language in which to conduct business throughout the world, potential customers cannot and should not be relied upon to speak it. SDL's Trados platform offers companies certified language providers and translation services to meet their varied language needs. Anything that helps us understand each other a little better makes the complex process of managing—and maximizing—global content a bit easier.

—Heidi Gautschi

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Teragram Corporation

A Content Management System can help organize content across an enterprise, often in multiple languages, but without good multi-lingual metadata and underlying taxonomies, the content can become "unfindable," essentially trapped inside the CMS.

That's where Teragram Corporation comes in. President and cofounder Yves Schabes, Ph.D., says his company's tools—such as automatic categorization, taxonomy management, and entities and events extraction—help large companies organize content in multiple languages so workers can extract it when they need it.

"We're finding that companies are using our language processing tools to treat their content similarly to online libraries and publishers. Large businesses are finding more value in their content, and want to make it accessible for all of their employees by organizing it in a logical way," he says.

Teragram's products work in more than 30 languages, providing a way for global companies to generate metadata and taxonomies in multiple languages, and Schabes sees this as a key differentiator for his company. "Using the knowledge we've gained about 30 different languages, Teragram has been able to create very large, out-of-the-box taxonomies, generic taxonomies, as well as taxonomies targeted toward specific verticals," he says.

The World Bank, an organization that needs to process content in a single system across multiple languages, is a prime example of a Teragram customer. Working with the World Bank was a challenging undertaking, to say the least. Schabes says, "We had to break down the linguistic patterns in the roots of each language, and we found that not all are similar to Latin-based languages. For example, some Asian languages do not contain spaces between words. We had to develop a technology that truly understood where the words were, and then analyzed and parsed the sentences grammatically to process the content."

Among its accomplishments this year, Teragram released a standalone product called Direct Answers for the Enterprise that works with enterprise search solutions to give direct answers to search queries based on structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data in the organization.

"The fact that our technologies understand language so well allowed us to create a technology that understands the content of documents in the enterprise, delivering direct answers to its workers," Schabes says. And that means enterprise users can find the information stored inside that CMS, no matter where it is or what language they speak.

—Ron Miller

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Vignette Corporation


As user demands evolve, Vignette prides itself on being the solution to clients' needs, regardless of what stage of the content management life cycle they need help with. The company positions its content solutions in three categories: collaborative document and records management, imaging workflow, and next-generation web presences (not content with the same old portal solutions).

For many Vignette clients, personal communication—which is increasingly taking the form of trends like social networking—has increased in importance of late. Mike Aviles, Vignette's president and CEO says, "The rapid adoption of Web 2.0 technologies into the social fabric has fundamentally changed the way organizations communicate with their customers, partners, and employees." The 10-year-old company feels it's well-positioned to handle challenges related to this emerging phenomenon.

"Our next-generation web solutions enable organizations to provide a differentiated experience to their customers through the use of personalized content," says Aviles. The company's solutions are designed to provide a comprehensive approach to employee, customer, partner, supplier, and reseller internet portals, managing the complete information value chain from collaborative creation of content, to management, and to personalized, targeted delivery.

Vignette continued to bolster its core strengths in 2006. In May, the company released Vignette IDM 20.1, which increased the reporting and workflow automation capabilities of its imaging and workflow product. In June, Vignette received U.S. patents for its content caching, categorization, and user tracking technologies, which are part of the company's web presence offering.

Vignette welcomed new leadership in February when Aviles was named to the top post and to the board of directors. Strategic partnerships helped Vignette evolve on many levels this year as well: Its alliance with Lombardi Software, a business process management (BPM) software provider, should help customers better leverage the services of both companies. Vignette also integrated its ECM suite with HP Reference Information Storage Systems for financial services customers and Medical Archive Systems for healthcare customers.

With deep roots in the portal vendor community, Vignette is not afraid to change over time, and this strategy will likely continue as the company focuses on meeting organizations' ever-evolving content needs.

—Marji McClure

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Workshare, Inc.

Workshare supplies a solution to a growing problem that is evident to anyone who has scanned a newspaper in the past year. Workshare provides businesses with secure outbound content compliance solutions to ensure safe information exchange while preventing business disruption. When a bank, corporation, or government agency admits that customer records have inadvertently been made public, they've succumbed to the type of corporate risk that Workshare's products mitigate.

Secure content management has traditionally focused on external threats like spyware, viruses, and hackers. But with the advent of new compliance and privacy requirements—and high-profile data leaks that seem to make headlines every week—companies are taking endpoint threats like a lost USB drive or a stolen laptop more seriously. Joe Fantuzzi, president of Workshare, notes that "in the past two years there have been nearly 300 security breaches, revealing the personal information of 80 to 90 million people." These inadvertent breaches can strike a major blow to a company's reputation, not to mention the damage inflicted on affected individuals.

Workshare Protect Enterprise Suite is the company's main offering for outbound content security. It is a network-level endpoint solution that alerts users of security violations, blocks when necessary, and cures the breach when appropriate. Workshare Protect evolved from the company's first product offering, Deltaview, which Fantuzzi calls "the lingua franca" of document change management. Deltaview is a document integrity software product, providing users like legal professionals an efficient, secure, and auditable means of collaborating on document updates. The security features inherent in Deltaview became the basis of the Protect product.

Workshare was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in London, with offices in five countries. The company has 5,500 customers in 65 countries. Privately held, Workshare's 2006 revenue is estimated in the high $20 millions, up 30% from last year's estimated revenue in the low $20 millions. Fantuzzi sees educating its customers about rapidly evolving privacy and compliance requirements as one of Workshare's responsibilities. "We are building smarter software around jurisdictional compliance," he says, embedding geographic and industry- specific requirements into the initial software configuration. Ultimately, Workshare is working to help companies, and individuals, feel a lot more secure about keeping private data private.

—Nancy Davis Kho

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