Following a successful launch in September 2011 of Business Insights: Global, Gale, part of Cengage Learning, introduced Business Insights: Essentials on July 11, 2012. The new product, designed to replace Gale’s Business and Company Resource Center database, has the same interface as Business Insights: Global. Current subscribers to Business and Company Resource Center will be offered the opportunity to migrate to Business Insights: Essentials, at no charge, starting later in July.
The interface moves away from the large company, industry, topics icons of the Resource Center in favor of a more integrated approach. The new interface for Essentials is identical to that of Global, as they share a single platform. It is designed to model the research process of business professionals and students, according to Frank Menchaca, executive vice president. He sees the new platform as moving away from the more traditional approaches and assisting with business literacy.
In addition to the basic search box found on the homepage, advanced search is available. This permits searchers to build more complex search strategies using Boolean operators and makes limiting by content type, publication title, peer-reviewed journals, full text, NAICS, SIC, and date explicit. It also leads you to the controlled vocabulary used to index the articles in Business Insights. The structure of the advanced search page will be very familiar to information professionals.
Essentials combines information from a number of Gale and other sources. It includes a glossary of several thousand terms, pulled from Gale encyclopedias and Cengage Learning textbooks, text-to-speech functionality, translation tools for both the interface and text within articles, citation tools, and interactive charting. The homepage presents the searcher not only with a single search box but also puts tabs above the search box for company and industry searches, saved searches, search history, the glossary information, and comparison charts.
You can build a company list by combining any of these parameters—country, state, city, SIC, NAICS, revenues, and employees. You can also simply search the company name in the search box. Once at a results list, you can further limit your search by clicking on the facets to the left. These generally consist of company chronologies, histories, journals, market research reports, markets share reports, rankings, recent news, SWOT reports (from DataMonitor), videos, and company profiles. Clicking on the chart icon displays just that, a chart, from which you can build comparisons, which presents a graphic display that is frequently more powerful than descriptive text would be. “Graphs tell the story behind the data,” says Menchaca.
The interface is designed to simplify the search process without losing functionality. David Furman, vice president and publisher, sees it as making it “easier for users to not only find information more quickly, but to make connections among disparate data.” Menchaca adds that the Business Insights products should help people articulate their questions better and let searchers concentrate on looking for answers regardless of format. Content is integrated by relevance rather than format.
Search results, whether they are lists of links to external articles, financial data, case studies, statistical data, association information, or reports, make deep linking visible. Menchaca phrases it as “Dig deeper; move laterally.”
Although Business Insights: Global at launch was aimed at the academic market, it has proven popular in corporate environments as well, and the Gale sales staff think the same will be true of its new Essentials offering. Global includes more sources than Essential, so you can view it as a subset of Global.
Not every Gale information source is included in either of the Business Insights products. Still to come are the RDS databases, particularly TableBase, which would nicely complement the existing sources and fit well with the charting functionality.
The Business Insights products are a very interesting evolution for business researchers and show what can happen when traditional information sources are combined and amplified to meet the needs of modern researchers.