Business news and information provider Factiva (http://www.factiva.com) has been working to implement a broad strategy of making it easier for users of its products to discover, interpret, and use information rather than wade through scads of headlines. Now, further leveraging the Factiva Discovery Technologies implemented with its Factiva Search 2.0, which launched earlier this year, the company has introduced similar visualization capabilities in its Factiva SalesWorks product, which is designed for sales professionals. Factiva has also added new prospecting functionality, new content, and enhanced reporting, delivery, and application integration capabilities. The company said the enhancements are designed to help salespeople stay on top of changing business news, such as management moves, company financials, or new ownership.
Factiva SalesWorks was first introduced in January 2005. The company's first year was spent pouring additional content into the product, according to director of product management Simon Bradstock. Now, he said, Factiva is introducing technology enhancements that should give users even more of a competitive edge by providing innovative functionality.
By leveraging Factiva Discovery Technologies, a suite of capabilities that uses text-mining technologies, charts and graphs, and Factiva's patented taxonomy, Factiva SalesWorks now provides a graphical view of news highlights and trends related to a company or industry. After users retrieve a company or industry snapshot, the discovery pane is populated with filters that provide a graphic visualization of the news article results, based on a 90-day archive. The discovery pane allows users to select filters for refining, refocusing, or narrowing the news article results and uncovering trends and related topics. Here are the filters:
- Top 5 most common: Companies, Subjects, and Industries that appear most often in the results
- News Themes: clusters of phrases found together in many of the most relevant results
Perhaps even more important and, according to Bradstock, unique to Factiva, the product provides new prospecting functionality. Sales professionals building a prospect list of companies can filter by geography, size, industry, revenue, etc., and now they can also include specific news criteria. Users can include a keyword, such as VoIP or wireless, or a corporate topic, such as mergers and acquisitions or regulatory filings.
Alan Scott, chief marketing officer of Factiva, said: "As a recognized leader in innovation, Factiva wants to transform the way sales professionals compete in today's marketplace—and these enhancements are aimed at driving sales productivity and revenue in very unique ways. In fact, customers have shared that Factiva SalesWorks has increased their ability to sell more effectively, and our revenue supports that feedback. Within the first four months of 2006, Factiva has doubled its revenue for Factiva SalesWorks."
Factiva SalesWorks provides content from news providers such as Dow Jones and Reuters and business information from Reuters Fundamentals, D&B, Datamonitor, ZoomInfo, Hemscott, Standard & Poor's, Mergent, Investext, Thomson Financial, Jobson's, Marquis Who's Who, Freedonia, IBISWorld Business Information, MarketResearch.com, and others.
Bradstock said that Factiva SalesWorks has added new executive and technology contentprovided by Harte-Hanks, which enables users to expand networking to executives responsible for IT decisions and to uncover new opportunities. He said this information is not available in products from competitors or in Factiva.com.
Market research profiles from Datamonitor have also been newly structured (working from the metadata) to be part of the snapshots and profiles within Factiva SalesWorks.
The product now provides improved reporting capabilities, letting users select from a prebuilt report template or customize their own reports to view as PDFs.
Earlier this month, Factiva introduced Factiva SalesWorks for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, which integrates Factiva's content within Microsoft's customer relationship management solution. Factiva SalesWorks can also be integrated into environments such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services, Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, and Microsoft Office Word 2003. Additionally, Factiva has developed more than 15 Factiva SalesWorks components for Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies that facilitate the delivery of content in context.
Bradstock said that Factiva SalesWorks now offers additional delivery capabilities, including new RSS alerts. Delivery to the BlackBerry platform is now more robust and has improved navigation. These improvements were driven by customer feedback. "No other competitor is enhancing their products as quickly or investing as much as Factiva," said Bradstock. The next major release is planned for October, but he declined to share any details. He also said that a sister product, Factiva Companies and Executives, has also been upgraded with the visualization functionality, though no announcement has yet been made.
Interestingly, one SalesWorks customer with whom I spoke didn't know the news about the major product upgrade until she saw the press release come over a wire service. In fact, the new product version actually solves an issue her organization had been having with the product. Apparently, no communication about the upgrade has been sent out directly to customers.
However, one major shortcoming with the product, in some people's estimations, has not yet been addressed—the 90-day file. I asked Bradstock if this was due to lack of processing resources. Here's his response:
The Discovery technology that powers the visualizations in Factiva SalesWorks is the same underlying technology used in Search 2.0, which currently operates from a 90-day archive. This technology is still in beta and at a later date we may begin to increase the length of archive (obviously this is true for Search 2.0 as well). Factiva SalesWorks is targeted at sales people and relationship managers; typically the strongest need in terms of information is to understand what is happening now at a company rather than researching historical information. That being said, news in a typical company snapshot goes back up to one year archive and the Key Developments information that Reuters supplies goes back even further to look at key news events at public companies. It is only in the news discovery pane and in ad hoc news searching that the archive is 90 days.
Information professionals would be wise to educate the end user sales professionals in their organizations about the need to examine search results closely—look for dates on reports, question unexpected results, cross-check important data using multiple sources, etc. An aggregated product can only be as good as its underlying data sources. In some random checks for known companies, the data used in the analyses I found in SalesWorks was more than 1-year-old. But, this is not a new problem. Info pros have always been aware of these issues—it's just important that we share these cautions with the newly empowered masses of end-user searchers.
For a product review of Factiva SalesWorks, see Rosemary Whitney's article in the September 2005 issue of Searcher at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/infotoday/
For details on Factiva's new Search 2.0 interface, see the NewsBreak "Factiva to Launch Search 2.0 Beta" at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16009.