The headline on the press release from OneSource Information Services, Inc. was positive (but, of course!): "OneSource Posts Second Consecutive Profitable Quarter and First Profitable Year." I was impressed. This was the second good earnings report from an information industry company that I'd seen in a week. (NewsEdge Corp. had just reported its third straight quarter of operating improvement.) Maybe the market is growing for high-value business content? It looks like businesses are really beginning to understand that paying for quality content enables them to be smarter and faster than the competition.
Two weeks after that press release, OneSource, the Web-based provider of business and financial information, announced that it had "reached a milestone in content delivery by issuing over 1 million reports to customers via its Business Browser product during the week of January 13—an increase of 36 percent over the same period last year." A report could consist of a company overview, a group of articles, an industry summary, or a market-share table.
Dan Schimmel, OneSource's president and CEO, said: "It's no surprise to us that the demand for businesses to be smarter and more competitive is the driving force behind OneSource's record-breaking achievement^Å. A million reports in a single week demonstrates that our hard-working customers increasingly depend on Business Browser's up-to-date and powerful content to efficiently research competitors, pursue new business opportunities, and close sales."
OneSource integrates business and financial information on over 1 million global public and private companies from more than 25 information providers that draw upon over 2,500 sources of content. Content partners for OneSource include Dun & Bradstreet, Market Guide, Reuters, and Worldscope/Disclosure. With the acquisition of CorpTech in 1999, OneSource added valuable, proprietary private-company information.
The company stresses that a key advantage of its Business Browser is that it delivers information in an integrated format through a consistent user interface that allows end-users to obtain data from numerous sources in an easy-to-read report. Reports may be exported to spreadsheets, contact management, and other desktop tools. Information is compatible with customer relationship management (CRM) software from Sieble Systems, Inc.
Roy Landon, CFO of OneSource, enumerated the service's other strengths, which include the depth and breadth of content (U.S. and global, public and private, news, periodicals, executive biographies, research reports, industry reports, etc.), proprietary private-company content, the integration provided by KeyID indexing technology (which allows Business Browser users increased functionality and ease of use), and the software power in screening and reporting capabilities.
Landon said that enhancements to the product are driven by feedback from customers and prospects, and that a number of improvements are planned. The company will be expanding its U.S. private-company coverage and more than doubling the number of executive contacts in its products with a tripling of the number of executive functions available. They will enhance the functionality for using screening criteria, and for executive contact searching and reporting.
As of December 31, 2000, the company had over 200,000 seats subscribed to its Business Browser at more than 869 companies. Subscriptions for enterprise customers cost anywhere from $25,000 to $1 million, depending on the number of users and options. Business Browser AppLink is a software toolkit for integrating Business Browser into a corporate intranet.
The market for business information services is intensely competitive, but OneSource has found a niche for itself in targeting sales, marketing, finance, and management professionals. It is not competing for the professional searcher market that services like Dialog, Lexis-Nexis, and Factiva target. Landon stressed that Business Browser was designed to be an end-user tool. The CorpTech database is still available through a number of distribution partners, but he said that these services don't compete directly with Business Browser.
OneSource does face pressure from some of the free and low-cost business and financial information Web sites, such as Hoovers.com, Marketwatch.com, and Multex.com. In addition to other business services, like Factiva and Thomson, there are also some new competitive intelligence (CI) products, such as Hoover's Intelligence Monitor, Northern Light's RivalEye (see the February 2001 Monthly Spotlight article), and Moreover's Business Intelligence solution. But, as one of the few companies to turn a profit, OneSource looks like it is correctly gauging the demand for business-to-business intelligence and providing an information product that companies are willing to pay for.