Beginning May 19, 2005, Factiva customers will have an additional option for receiving results from their "track current awareness" searches—an Enterprise RSS feed via NewsGator online and NewsGator Microsoft Outlook. Note that this enterprise version of RSS requires you to be a Factiva subscriber to receive updates and that the feeds are limited to NewsGator as the aggregator. Factiva's Editor's Choice feeds will also be available in NewsGator premium products beginning in early June. However, Factiva customers will not pay to download and use the NewsGator Business Subscriptions product.
According to Karin Borchert, Factiva's chief product officer, "This is another way to extend the value of what we're delivering." Current awareness search results can also be delivered by e-mail, on a News Page, or in a Track folder. Two types of Track folders exist—one that can be seen only by the subscriber and one that can be shared with a group. In many ways, Factiva RSS feeds are simply another form of push technology. Adding NewsGator RSS feeds fits well with enterprise work flows, particularly in its integration with Microsoft Outlook.
Factiva is not completely new to delivering information via an RSS feed. Sharp-eyed subscribers noted a few months ago that the "Editor's Choice" selections could be delivered via a beta version of Factiva RSS by clicking on the orange RSS beta button. Editor's Choice pieces are news articles classified into 25 broad industry groupings, including Accounting/Consulting, Consumer Products, Hotels/Restaurants/Casinos, Insurance, Media, Pharmaceuticals, and Transportation/Shipping. Unlike the deal with NewsGator, the Editor's Choice information can be used with any RSS aggregator.
The decision to offer Editor's Choice in a beta RSS provided "market validation" for this delivery model, says Borchert. She is very enthusiastic about the feedback received from users, which was overwhelmingly positive. "Customers were increasingly asking for RSS feeds and sent lots of short notes saying they were delighted when we implemented the RSS beta." One problem identified by users was authentication. If the authentication was complex, particularly as with distinctions between personal and group Track folders, the RSS feeds didn't work. Using NewsGator as the RSS platform solves this problem.
Another advantage Factiva receives from working with NewsGator is exposure: Factiva may gain new customers who had not heard of the company previously. "It speaks to the way the world and the content supply chain is changing," notes Borchert. "RSS is just another model. For the newer generation, it's a given. It's how they want to get information."
RSS not only gives people information the way they want to receive it, it also places premium content alongside opinion pieces that show up as blogs. This can lead to interesting juxtapositions of fact and critiques that traditional information delivery misses. Blogs can point out what was missed or misunderstood in a mainstream media article. They could also indicate popular opinion on a business issue or industry product, regardless of whether that opinion is backed up by facts. Balancing the two sources of news will become increasingly important as business journalism changes. "It's a different way to look at information," says Borchert.
RSS feeds have not escaped the notice of other online search services favored by information professionals. LexisNexis' Mealey Publications & Conferences Group has its top legal news as an RSS feed with more than 50 legal news channels, ranging from the general (insurance, privacy, international property) to the specific (Baycol, latex, asbestos). LexisNexis reports that it has "the capability of pushing RSS streams out to our subscribers, but to date our customers get their feeds from our direct publishing (Publisher) product in either XML or HTML." Thomson Dialog is transmitting its press releases via RSS feed, and the company is "in the exploratory phase of offering Dialog Alerts via RSS." Look for RSS Alerts sometime in 2006.
An article by Steve Smith, "Tapping the Feed: In Search of an RSS Money Trail," which appeared in the March 2005 issue of EContent (http://www.econtentmag.com), predicted the convergence of fee-based RSS delivery of information to the enterprise. Smith quoted Ross Mayfield, CEO of Socialtext (http://www.socialtext.com), as saying, "You will see companies like Factiva make a big push in that area." The next person quoted in the article is Greg Reinacker, president of NewsGator, who said he couldn't go into detail about pending deals. With 20/20 hindsight, he was probably referring to his negotiations to deliver Factiva Track to enterprise customers. For those who love RSS feeds (and there are more every day), this deal between Factiva and NewsGator is welcome indeed.