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Factiva Launches Web Portal for Searchers
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Posted On October 23, 2000
Factiva, a Dow Jones and Reuters company, has initiated a new Web portal service designed to serve information professionals. The Factiva InfoPro Alliance Portal (http://www.factiva.com/infopro) is open to all searchers, not just current members of Factiva's InfoPro Alliance program, or even to subscribers of Dow Jones Interactive (DJI), Reuters Business Briefing, or any other Factiva services. The site provides a wide range of resources, including articles written on key topics of interest, headlines taken from online publications, and direct inquiry and discussions through connections with U.K.-based FreePint (http://www.freepint.co.uk). Though material written directly for the site may reflect a Factiva marketing bias, the general offerings appear very useful, and the FreePint connection assures the flow of information on non-Factiva concerns.

The leader of the four-person InfoPro Alliance Portal team is Anne Caputo, Factiva's director of InfoPro and Academic Programs. The other team members are Barbara Burton, Lorraine Bell, and Gillian Versey. In discussing the new portal, Caputo stated: "The role of info pros within information-intensive organizations has evolved extensively as a result of the rapid growth and adoption of knowledge management and intranet initiatives. Factiva's goal is to support info pros and their professional development with a new portal that combines community, commerce, and customized content. The launch of the Factiva InfoPro Alliance Portal underscores our commitment to info pros in today's ever-changing business environment."

In an interview, Clare Hart, CEO of Factiva, emphasized the three focuses of the new portal: content, commerce, and community. The content will include articles on industry trends that are updated every 2 weeks, including white papers and case studies; documentation on the effective use of Factiva products; and current and back issues of Advisor, Factiva's newsletter for information professionals. The InfoPro Resource Center will offer sets of links to professional organizations, publisher Web sites, and research tools, all related to professional searcher needs. Although it was initially a headline service focused on e-commerce, search engines, and e-books, Hart indicated that the company plans to expand the topics covered as the portal develops.

In the commerce category, the site also opens up access to the 6,000-plus full-text sources carried in the Publications Library. Current DJI customers can have their password "cooked" to pay for the items retrieved. Non-DJI customers can buy articles through Qpass credit card registration. Users who scan the pre-retrieved headlines must also pay for the full-text articles they want to read.

In the community category, Factiva opens up connection to the FreePint Bar, an online discussion group where some 32,000 registered users post research questions, discuss business topics, and network with colleagues. FreePint also publishes a biweekly newsletter. Hart pointed out that the U.K. connection also reinforces the global nature of the online searching community. The connection would also seem to mirror the Reuters side of Factiva's parentage. Hart indicated that FreePint's staff would help identify new topics of interest arising from searcher discussions.

In creating the new material, Hart said that the InfoPro Alliance Portal team can draw on expertise throughout the organization. For example, early material will cover Intelligence Indexing, tapping the experience formed in automated, real-time, in-house indexing projects. The material developed for the site is based on the professional and personal competencies outlined in the Special Libraries Association's (SLA) "Competencies for Special Librarians of the 21st Century."  The portal carries a specific link on each page entitled, "Our Partnership with SLA." The Factiva Library and Information Science (LIS) area offers a comprehensive package of materials for use in academic settings to educate students about using Dow Jones Interactive and Reuters Business Briefing Search.

Factiva has also announced a move for its corporate headquarters to New York (105 Madison Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10016). According to Hart, the New York move would establish a greater independence for the organization. The New Jersey location left Factiva, as a company, in a Dow Jones-dominated environment. Hart stated that the new address would support business development, sales, and marketing—sections of the company already largely located in New York, but at different facilities. Factiva has offices in 58 cities in 30 countries covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Last month, Factiva moved its over 400 New Jersey-based employees into a 133,000 square foot office complex in Princeton. The New Jersey staff, according to Hart, comprise most of the technical developers of the service as well as customer support.

Portals for information professionals seem to be on the rise in the traditional online industry, from Dialog's InfoPro Portal to SIRSI's LibraryHQ.com—a very positive development and one all searchers should encourage. Take a look at them. Mark them with your browser's Favorite/Bookmark feature. Keep visiting them regularly until you figure out how best to use them in your daily work. At least, that's one searcher's opinion.


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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