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Dialog Technology Changes Foreshadow Improvements
by
Posted On March 15, 2004
Dialog's recent announcement of a new platform and enhanced interfaces to both Dialog Profound and Dialog NewsRoom provides insight into some changes users can expect from Dialog in 2004/2005, according to Roy M. Martin Jr., Dialog CEO and president. Beyond mere look-and-feel modifications, the new Dialog platform incorporates a more intuitive user interface intended to work across product lines, a new indexing system utilizing NewsEdge, Thomson, and Dialog technologies, and a Web-based invoicing system designed for client billing or internal usage tracking.

Dialog currently supports several legacy product lines, including classic Dialog, DataStar, and Profound, in addition to the acquisitions of Intelligence Data and NewsEdge. The company was sustaining separate data centers and billing systems for each product, which increased the complexity for experienced searchers to retrieve relevant data. Financial and technology investments from Thomson have allowed Dialog to develop a consolidated technology platform to integrate a range of services and provide improved functionality to its customers.

"The development of the platform is the result of roughly 3 years worth of work by technologists from Dialog and all around the world. We've leveraged a significant amount of Thomson components and technologies in the eventual finished goods," said Martin. "The enhancement of Dialog Profound and Dialog NewsRoom is only the beginning." (Editor's Note: Martin had discussed Dialog's integration strategy and technology plans in an interview with Paula J. Hane in the October 2003 issue of Information Today, page 1.)

Customers of Dialog Intelliscope, Dialog Company Profiles, and Dialog NewsEdge should expect interface standardization with Dialog Profound and Dialog NewsRoom later this year, with the ability to use a single password for all services under their existing contracts. Searching across all products is intended to be a seamless process; therefore, customers will be able to use their product's existing Boolean and proximity operators for multiple database searches.

The new platform also incorporates the launch of SmartTerms, Dialog's exclusive taxonomy that leverages the strengths of the NewsEdge Real-time Content Refinery (RtCR) and the Dialog Profound InfoSort taxonomy. The most notable improvement to the taxonomy is the inclusion of a broad company authority file (approximately 800,000 company names) provided by Thomson Financial. SmartTerms improves document hyperlinking, which allows users to retrieve related documents within an individual product or on another Dialog service.

"With the release of our new taxonomy, we think SmartTerms is as sophisticated as anything available in this particular niche of the industry," added Martin. "We will continue to build SmartTerms out and extend it across all products on the platform, where appropriate." Former Dialog Profound users should notice increased functionality and ease of use in the new release.

With the release of Dialog BillBack, a free, Web-based usage tracking system, the end may finally be near for customers desiring a single access point for client invoicing and internal budgeting purposes. Customized usage reports can be created on the fly or on a scheduled basis, and data are downloadable into spreadsheets and accounting systems. Dialog BillBack leverages technology developed by West, part of the Thomson Legal & Regulatory group.

Dialog customers have long desired a more unified interface that permits comprehensive searching across related arrays of content, especially in the areas of business news, financial data, and market research, and it looks like the future is becoming a reality. Dialog Profound and Dialog NewsRoom are significantly improved in the upgrade process, and the integration of the recent acquisitions of Intelliscope and NewsEdge into the mix so quickly is certainly a good sign. (For more information, visit: http://support.dialog.com/publications/chronolog/200403specialed/)

Martin isn't discussing whether there are any imminent changes planned for classic Dialog or Dialog DataStar searchers, but one would expect such an undertaking to require careful planning and effort. Generally, the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance, however, is the technology tide turning for Dialog?


Matthew J. McBride is an independent information consultant based in Washington state and a columnist for Searcher.

Email Matthew J. McBride
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