Physicist Richard Feynman once gave a speech entitled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" in which he discussed the problems of manipulating and controlling things on a small scale. The bottom, as envisioned by Feynman, didn't have the somewhat negative food-chain implications one might immediately conjure; rather, he was theorizing about the possibilities afforded by miniaturization. Less, as the saying goes, is more.
In the fee-based info world, this has been borne out by the increasing problem of information overload and the savvy content user's preference for packaged content offerings that simplify the job at hand. The fact is that information is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different users have different needs and, importantly, different sized organizations have different budgets for that information. OneSource Information Services, long known for its high-end business information product, Business Browser, has moved into the small to medium business information strata with the introduction of OneSource Express.
OneSource has been in the business of consolidating corporate information for 20 years, and built its reputation on "looking at all of the information out there, pulling it together in a relevant format, and targeting it at sales and marketing tasks," according to Ed Hutchinson, the company's director of strategic communications (Note: Hutchinson has since left OneSource). Its Business Browser product, from which the company currently derives about 60% of its profits, is targeted at very large organizations—those with over $500 million in revenue and that have sales and marketing staffs numbering in the hundreds. With the OneSource Express product, the company will aim its sights at organizations with "dozens, as opposed to hundreds, of sales and marketing people," says Hutchinson.
Brad Haigis, VP of products for OneSource Information Services, says the company sees a "large opportunity for a product targeted at these types of organizations. Express rounds out our offering by allowing us to borrow a lot of value from our higher-end product and scale it down." Business Browser aggregates and integrates information on more than 3.2 million public and private companies and 7 million executives worldwide at a starting cost of $20,000 per user (though the price moves down to about $150 per user at large volumes of seats). OneSource Express, by comparison, will cover about 500,000 U.S. and 20,000 international companies and include 1.3 million executive contacts—at a starting price of $5,000 for five users, which quickly drops into the $100 per user range with multiple seats.
As John Blossom, president and senior analyst of Shore Communications explains, "With more pressure than ever to use business content as a resource that can be converted into top-line rev- enue contributions, it pays for business information companies to adopt a variety of purchasing options that are suited to patterns of use that yield the highest return on content investment possible."
Blossom points out that InfoUSA, which bought OneSource last June, has a good deal of experience bringing business content to a broad market. "So, from a long-term perspective it's very much in line with InfoUSA's overall footprint in the industry," says Blossom. However, OneSource Express will go head to head with the best known brand in affordable business content: Hoover's. "Hoover's is highly recognized as a brand name to small and medium business owners that sets a high standard for usability," says Blossom. "But," he continues, "OneSource has its own high standards and is becoming increasingly adept at content quality control and integration. The test will be in coming up with a product that's as usable as Hoover's with higher data quality."
Haigis believes that OneSource has the edge over Hoover's product offerings in terms of content integration, pointing out that while Hoover's was quick to leverage the assets of its parent company, D&B, it has not streamlined integration and still requires users to search several databases separately. The focus for OneSource Express, he says, is simplicity. "While our interface may not be the sexiest in the world, it is very simple and easy to understand," says Haigis. "Whether a salesperson uses our tool once a week or once a month, we want them to understand how to get the information they need very quickly."
While the interface focus may be on ease of use, OneSource's move to extend its reach into the small and medium sized market is based on building business opportunities. According to Hutchinson, "We often get people who call and say they are interested in the product, and then ask how much it costs and a certain percentage of those calls stopped at that point. One of the goals with this product is to keep that conversation going."