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LexisNexis Extends and Expands Answer Products
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Posted On June 9, 2003
Celebrating "30 Years of Innovation," LexisNexis' Enterprise and Library Division has announced an expanded and enriched Company Dossier product and a new Industry Dossier product. The new products meld data from numerous authoritative business reference sources to create reports formatted for use in major software, such as Excel spreadsheets. LexisNexis also announced that it would introduce an integrated Publisher product by the end of July. The new Publisher software will combine and enhance the features available on the Intranet Publisher and Web Publisher services currently available.

The expanded Company Dossier has improved searching, screening, and analysis. Users can specify search elements on up to 16 attributes simultaneously, e.g., geographic location (which now includes county), company size, and financial metrics. When producing side-by-side company comparisons, users may use ticker symbols as well as company names. Content coverage has expanded to reach over 12.5 million public, private, and international companies. By the end of June, the service will offer two versions on both the nexis.com and lexis.com platforms: Snapshot, equivalent to the current Company Dossier, and Complete, the enriched version.

Enhancements to Company Dossier include more data sources, e.g., international business directory information such as D & B's Dun's Market Identifiers for France, Italy, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Australia. By the end of the year, according to product manager, Burt Corbin, LexisNexis will have added all the D&B files. Corbin also indicated that the company had removed unnecessary duplication from the Executive display layout, whenever possible, and added Counsel and Auditor information, when available.

Subscribers to the Complete Company Dossier will also be eligible to subscribe to the new Industry Dossier service, which provides snapshot industry reports with descriptions, lists of related industries, industry performance aggregates, recent industry news, and the top 20 companies in an industry with related financial data. Four other industry report types are also available: Legislative, Mergers, Economic Report, and Industry Revenue.

Data sources include Integra Industry Reports, covering over 900 industries representing almost 4 million businesses, with aggregates for 13 separate sales ranges within each industry; the American Statistics Index abstracts of the U.S. Census Bureau's Economic Census reports; Mergerstat M&A Database; Market Guide Industry Aggregates covering aggregated revenues and other key ratios for over 114 separate industries; Disclosure; and Congressional full-text bills as well as bill tracking for the current Congress. Industries are searchable by SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes or keywords.

When I asked Corbin why LexisNexis still uses SIC codes, which the Census Bureau has replaced with NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) coding, he commented that most database publishers still use SICs and customers prefer it. In fact, when LexisNexis sees NAICS codes, it intervenes and maps back to SICs. Unfortunately some industries, for example, the information industry, do not map back effectively.

According to senior vice president, Wendy Beecham, the Dossier products are only available through subscription pricing. Each price is negotiable. Calculating for a projected 25-seat service, however, she says the average cost for an institution subscribing to the Snapshot version of Company Dossier would run around $11,000 annually, while the Complete version would run $50,000-$60,000. Only subscribers to the Complete version of Company Dossier can subscribe to the add-on Industry Dossier service, which, for a 25-seat contract, could average an additional $5,000. Beecham feels that pricing for the Dossier products, when compared with Hoover's or OneSource, remains favorable because of the greater coverage of sources and data. In the future, Beecham said, the company may examine options to make the products available as pay-per-use.

Publisher Products Merged
The LexisNexis Publisher coming at the end of July will merge the functionality of the two "Publisher" products launched by LexisNexis 2 years ago. With the new product, users will be able to distribute information internally to intranets and externally to institutional Web sites. The main value, according to Beecham, will lie in the integration. Due to publishers' restrictions on use of their content, LexisNexis can offer 4,000 sources for Web site usage, but 12,000 sources for internal usage.

The product will be sold separately as a general tool. Using LexisNexis Publisher, users can combine internal information with other licensed content. Beecham made it very clear that the policy was to use open standards and to support broad linking. Restricting the ability of the software to serve all the needs and uses of clients was a "non-starter," said Beecham. "We need to take the pain out of linking." In fact, one of her major upcoming tasks is to work on alliances with key content providers already on clients' desktops to make LexisNexis Publisher as simple and easy a plug-and-play product as possible.

Research Tools
Answer products are the answer to end-user needs, but what happens if the answers aren't there? For example, the "Top 20" companies in the new Industry Dossier may mislead users in specific situations. It keys the listings off the primary 4-digit SIC code assigned to a company and the company's performance statistics. Very large companies with diverse activities may not register in the code and fall out of the listing. Or, diversified companies that do use the 4-digit SIC code may place too high in the Top 20 due to revenue and sales figures swollen from activities outside the primary code. Responding to such issues, Beecham stated that the Dossier products were not designed or marketed as: "‘be-all-end-all' solutions or as Nirvanas to answer all end-users' dreams. They are research tools, but users must still work with the data." She also stated that the new products fit into LexisNexis' strategy of enhancing the importance for clients of having information professionals on staff.


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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