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Dialog Sets 2001 Strategy in Flurry of Announcements
Posted On May 7, 2001
After months of comparative silence, Dialog Corp. (, a subsidiary of Thomson Corp., has published a spate of announcements reflecting its new strategy and plans for 2001. Under the theme "Information to Change the World," Dialog has launched a number of new products and services as well as a set of new graphical marks for its product lines: Dialog, Profound, and DataStar. The market strategy appears to continue the company's traditional information-professional focus with the reorganization of staff and the enhancement of special services assisting that market. The company also continues its outreach into company and institutional intranet connections. At present, Dialog has no plans to change the controversial DialUnit pricing.

Roy M. Martin Jr., president and CEO of Dialog, said: "Dialog's strategy is to develop products and services for our core customers—information professionals—that build on our traditional strengths while leveraging the power of our brands, content, global sales and service organization, and leading-edge customization tools for the Internet." Martin also promised that "2001 will mark the first solid progress by Dialog as a result of [last year's acquisition by Thomson]. Customers are going to observe increasing evidence of Dialog's and Thomson's commitment to our markets and information professionals around the world."

Libby Trudell, who was appointed senior vice president of Information Professional Market Development as part of the new initiative, states: "Because our information is so deep and our search tools so precise, Dialog stands alone as the information service of choice within government agencies and private organizations worldwide. Our products deliver the information that helps customers to develop world-changing products and support major industry-altering transactions in more than 100 countries. ‘Information to Change the World' could not be more appropriate in emphasizing Dialog's position as a pivotal supplier in the information society."

In her new position, Trudell, an executive with Dialog since 1983, coordinates and champions all Dialog programming to the information professional and librarian marketplace on a worldwide basis. This includes managing the relaunched Quantum2 professional development program; supporting ongoing high-level contacts with library associations, including the Special Libraries Association; enriching Dialog educational programs at library schools; and establishing Dialog customer advisory boards. Her team also provides input regarding the needs of the information professional market to assist with product and content development, strategic marketing, sales, and pricing. The announcement of her appointment included a pledge to implement an enhanced focus on customer support and service this year. Previously, Trudell was senior vice president of strategic development.

In describing the new Information Professional Market Development Team, Trudell said, "The establishment of this group is a significant step, building upon on the rich heritage shared by Dialog and the information professional community." The team also includes Bonnie Snow, a frequent speaker and writer on pharmaceutical and biomedical information, and Ron Kaminecki, an expert in intellectual property applications. They will form the nucleus of the group. Betty Jo Hibberd, former manager of Drexel University's distance-learning program, will oversee Dialog's educational and professional development programs for librarians. Within Dialog's own organization, the group will provide input to other sections regarding the needs of the information professional to assist with product and content development, strategic marketing, sales, and pricing.

End-User Product Developments
The 2001 strategy leaves plenty of room for end-user services as well. The company has launched improved versions of Profound and Dialog1. Profound now offers faster performance by the installation of AltaVista-powered search technology with enhanced usability and features.

Dialog has also added more content, some from new publishers. An exclusive relationship with Frost & Sullivan provides the Market Engineering Series through Profound Researchline. Other Researchline content additions include over 250 IDC technology business reports, multi-industry market information from Snapshots International, China regional market intelligence from Asian Information Resources Limited, GIA global industry market research, and Datamonitor reports.

Profound's QuickSearch content now includes full collections of Adobe PDF-based financial and business reports from Investext, Kompass Directory files for non-U.S. businesses, Teikoku Databank for Japanese companies, ICC British Company Financial Datasheets, and D&B Market Identifiers. Both DialogSelect, another Web-based outlet, and Profound now offer the complete set of Investext reports, complete with images, in PDF. Investext carries over 2 million corporate and industry reports written by expert analysts from some 600 investment banks, brokerage houses, and consultancies. Most of this content already exists on the main Dialog service. Some does not (such as GIA and IDC reports), but Trudell informed me that the company planned to add any content currently only on Profound to the main Dialog service.

According to Dialog testing, the new AltaVista search engine retrieves answers to 80 percent of defined searches on Profound within 10 seconds and 95 percent of all searches within 35 seconds. The new release also improves Profound's navigation, search input, and search output reviewing. Users can now do table of contents pricing, and pricing for both Profound and Newsline has now been standardized worldwide.

News headlines and information currently available on Profound can now feed directly to institutional intranets throughout the day using Dialog's new Intranews service. Part of Dialog's IntraIntelligence suite of services, Intranews matches news wire content with user-interest profiles and delivers the results automatically to user networks in either XML or HTML format. Organizations can set up unique news profiles specifying subjects and sources. Intranews uses the InfoSort document classification technology from Bright Station to process and categorize documents automatically by thousands of separate market sectors, locations, companies, and subjects.

Dialog1 provides a user-friendly delivery system for Dialog information catered to specific vertical and horizontal markets using a "question-and-answer" interface. "Many of the search tools deploy powerful Dialog command language ‘behind the scenes,' providing information with pinpoint precision," said Paul Colucci, Dialog's senior vice president of product development.

At present, modules available on cover intellectual property, pharmaceuticals, business intelligence, marketing, and world news, with energy, engineering, and biotech scheduled for release later this year. According to Trudell, the marketing and world news modules are new. Otherwise, the service is the same as has been offered in the U.S. for some time, although the company will now market it worldwide. Dialog users can access Dialog1 with a Dialog password.

Less Than Impressive?
Old Dialog veterans seemed a little under-impressed by the new announcements, though compliments went out to Trudell as a familiar and welcome face to information professionals. Most interest focused on what was not mentioned—namely, DialUnit pricing. Comments from Dialog executives have long promised a review of the controversial and disliked pricing scheme. Rumors sprang up again in April after a major Dialog in-house meeting with staff called together from all over the country. As one veteran searcher commented: "It's disappointing that we're still hearing no news about pricing, after all this time. The info pro market has cut Dialog a lot of slack over the years, but ignoring the pricing issue is like ignoring a dead elephant in the living room." But hope springs eternal. Predictions are rife that Dialog will announce a major initiative in this area by next month.

Headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, with major offices still in northern California, Dialog hosts the widest array of databases for the supermarket search services, covering science, engineering, finance, law, and general information. It has over 20,000 customers in 100 countries. Thomson Corp., with 2000 revenues of approximately $6 billion, also owns Gale Group, Derwent, and many of Dialog's other leading database producers.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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