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Competitive Intelligence Tools for Enterprises
by
Posted On February 1, 2001
The information industry has come a long way in the past few years. We're not just seeing content aggregation and selling, but the integration of diverse content using advanced technologies, melded with sophisticated tools and applications targeted at specific business needs. Businesses of all kinds need timely market and competitive intelligence (CI) information: what's happening in the industry, what the competition's doing, and how a company and its competitors are mentioned in the media. Though searchers have had CustomClips in Dow Jones Interactive, and similar kinds of predefined search options in other services, businesses now have the choice of some fairly sophisticated products that are designed specifically to help them with their competitive intelligence requirements. Several new tools made their debut recently.

Northern Light (http://www.northernlight.com) has introduced its RivalEye service, a competitive intelligence tool for corporate enterprises. RivalEye provides a real-time search and alerting service that integrates into a corporate intranet for easy desktop access throughout an organization. RivalEye makes it easy for companies to gather relevant data and have it presented in an organized way, freeing CI professionals to do more analysis and make sense of the information. It also allows individuals within corporate departments with varying CI requirements to access what they need, be it financial data, company news, corporate profiles, or sales and marketing materials.

The new service is based on the Northern Light Special Editions (http://special.northernlight.com), which offer one-stop collections of resources and links for key topics and issues, with the option to run live queries. (If you haven't discovered them yet, they're great. They offer mini-literature reviews on topics like computers and privacy, computer viruses, managed care, and the latest, wireless technology. It's a great way to get up to speed quickly.)

For RivalEye, as for the Special Editions, Northern Light's professional editorial staff select, annotate, and organize useful competitive information from the Web as well as from Northern Light's Article Archive of over 7,000 full-text journals, trade publications, and news sources. A single page "micro-site" provides a clear layout, with a Competitor Section and an Industry Section. A search box allows users to do real-time searches of either the entire Northern Light database or a selected, relevant vertical industry. Search Alerts will notify users by e-mail when information on selected topics is updated. A key element in the precision of Northern Light's search capabilities is the extensive taxonomy of about 20,000 terms that are used to classify and organize information.

A typical implementation for a new enterprise customer begins at about $45,000 per year, and is not dependent on the number of desktops that access the service.

Last fall, Hoover's Media Technologies (HMT), a business unit of Hoover's, Inc., announced its Hoover's Intelligence Monitor (HIM; http://hmt.hoovers.com/enterprise), a Web-based application service that allows clients to monitor coverage of companies, people, products, and issues from a wide range of news and information sources, including news wires, newspapers, and more than 2,000 periodicals. The service has initially been targeted to the corporate subscribers to Hoover's portal, Hoover's Online (http://www.hoovers.com); to marketing, investor relations, and corporate communications professionals at large companies; and to advertising and public relations agencies.

Michael Gallagher, vice president of sales and marketing for HMT, said, "Hoover's Intelligence Monitor is a breakthrough service, because, for the first time, an organization can integrate all of the information sources it needs to monitor into a single, easy-to-use, outsourced application."

In addition to monitoring Hoover's content, HIM provides users with the option for integrated monitoring of news and research from other licensed services, such as Dow Jones and LEXIS-NEXIS. The HIM service manages the logins; translates queries to the native system syntax; and consolidates, normalizes (presents in a similar format), and ranks the results. It will also provide integrated monitoring of specified Web sites, including subscription and password-protected sites, and of any intranet-based database or documents that are already indexed by a program such as Verity. Queries are currently run twice a day on a defined schedule. At this time, users can't run ad hoc searches, but HMT plans to add this capability.

The company claims it takes only 3 to 5 business days to arrange for a new implementation. Pricing is based on the number of desktops, with the base cost of $799 per month for the first 10 users. Gallagher indicated that most of HIM's customers have been departments or groups within corporations, rather than entire companies. He said response to the product has been excellent, and that the pricing has been lowered since it first launched. He also noted that the content arrangement with Bell & Howell Information and Learning's ProQuest that had previously been arranged by HMT (when it was Powerize) has been rewritten. HIM will now include 4,500 sources from the ProQuest service.

HMT recently announced a partnership with TVEyes, Inc. (http://www.tveyes.com), a provider of real-time television alerts and broadcast monitoring. This partnership will enable subscribers to Hoover's Intelligence Monitor to monitor 32 U.S. and Canadian broadcast channels and cable networks for information about the companies, people, products, trends, and issues that are important to them. Currently, this option costs an additional $100 per month, but the company is looking to bundle it into the base price. Gallagher also said HMT is in negotiations now that will allow it to add additional Web content as part of the base offering.

What if these services just aren't in your budget or you're not an enterprise client? There are some Web-alert options that can at least tip you off to new press releases or news coverage of a company or topic. (Of course, that assumes you can clearly identify your competitors and the correct terms, and are willing to put up with imprecision in the results.) You can set up Yahoo! Alerts (http://alerts.yahoo.com), though I've experienced erratic delivery notification. There's also Company Sleuth from Infonautics (http://www.companysleuth.com), CyberAlert (http://www.cyberalert.com), and NetCurrents (http://www.netcurrents.com). Happy Sleuthing!


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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