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EBSCO Publishing Offers Corporate Intelligence Tool
by
Posted On February 1, 2006
Most librarians think of EBSCO as a provider of databases and subscription management services for libraries. A few years ago, when I interviewed several top executives for a feature article in Information Today, I was surprised to learn of the wide-ranging nature of EBSCO's business. The company doesn't just encompass the familiar EBSCO Information Services but nearly 20 other business operations under the EBSCO Industries, Inc. umbrella—including real estate, steel manufacturing, and fishing lures. The company exudes the model of "diversification provides strength and stability." So, I guess we shouldn't be surprised at the recent news that EBSCO Publishing—traditionally strong in the public and academic library space—has diversified and introduced a product for the corporate end-user market—one that it has not previously targeted.

Executive Daily Brief (EDB) is a new business information monitoring and alerting product for corporate end users in "global 5,000" enterprises. EDB was developed by EBSCO Publishing and Content Analyst Co., a Reston, Va.-based provider of text analytics technology. The service is being targeted at marketing and brand executives, sales personnel, engineering departments, research and development groups, corporate information officers, and corporate general counsels.

EDB combines Content Analyst's patented Concept Search technology with business content drawn from EBSCO's business databases. EDB's content repository includes business journals, current articles, reports and yearbooks, and real-time business news from a variety of premium information sources. Users may also customize EDB's content by exposing other sources of data to the Concept Search, such as pertinent company documents and intranet resources.

EDB enables users to search for conceptually related content by entering phrases, paragraphs, or entire articles into a search box. EDB then finds and retrieves the best available relevant information. EDB "trains" itself as it operates, creating a more intelligent search with each use. Users set up customized folders on topics or projects of their own choosing. EDB monitors more than 10,000 premium business sources each day and automatically places relevant articles into the appropriate project folders for review, based upon example documents, e-mails, or articles that the user places in each folder. Users can also do an "archive search," which pops up another window for searching using the EBSCOhost engine and interface. Some EBSCO sources date back to 1918, while most date back to the mid-1980s. Users can visit the EDB inbox to see what's new in their folders or opt to receive e-mail alerts when documents of interest arrive.

"We're delighted with both the partnership and the technology provided by Content Analyst Company," said Joe Tragert, EBSCO Publishing's director of market development. "Executive Daily Brief is a key component in our corporate information product line, and Content Analyst's powerful conceptual search technology is an innovative resource for executives who need timely, relevant, and actionable business information."

Tragert admitted that the new product is a deliberate move by EBSCO Publishing into a new space—the enterprise market. He said the company showed EDB to the corporate librarians on EBSCO's advisory board—"and they loved it." The product isn't designed to compete with core business information services, such as Factiva or LexisNexis, but could be complementary and serve unmet alerting needs of end users within corporate departments. He noted that EBSCO has also branched out to provide medical information products—another growing market segment for the company that likes diversification.

Among its national news sources, EDB monitors USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Christian Science Monitor. Tragert pointed out that other sources, such as a newspaper from London or Canada or The New York Times, could be added since EDB can handle RSS feeds.

Tragert said that EBSCO is looking into RSS technology in general and considering whether there's a value-added way to include aggregated blog content, first for EDB and then for other EBSCO products. The company will need to consider the licensing and legal issues involved. But, he commented: "The different context it can create is stunning. You could see the entire flow of a particular event, from blog entries through major media coverage."

Content Analyst Co. is a fairly new firm that was spun off from Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), a systems integrator. SAIC had been developing the Content Analyst technology for 6 years, offering it to its federal customers. The new company focuses on further developing and improving the technology for commercial markets—of which EBSCO's application is one.

The Content Analyst technology automates the analysis and categorization of unstructured text and data using a machine-learning technique called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). According to the company, LSI technology is designed to extract every contextual relation among every term in every text object within a collection. It then generates a vector space representation of all terms based on those relations. Within that space, proximity is a good indicator of conceptual similarity. The result: similarities can be identified based on concepts within the material.

Pricing details for EDB were not available. According to an EBSCO Publishing representative: "EDB is a customizable resource. As such, pricing is based on the specific content involved with access, as well as additional factors including employee population/company size, buildings, number of end users, etc. For specific pricing and customized access, contact EBSCO Publishing at: information@epnet.com." For more information about EDB, visit http://www.epnet.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=18&topicID=542.


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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