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OneSource Makes Transition from Information Retrieval Company
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Posted On November 25, 2002
In an interesting directional change, OneSource announced three new content-based products: a Global Business Taxonomy; Content Optimization Services; and AppLink version 2.0, a Web services-based toolkit for business information integration.

According to Bill Schumacher, senior vice president of OneSource's Content Group, all three products fall under its Synergy Solutions product line. "We're moving away from being only a subscription-based provider of products," he said. "We're not just an information retrieval company. We want to leverage what we've done over the past almost 2 decades to help companies solve their internal information difficulties."

The taxonomy is the key asset. Its automatic classification scheme—which is based on OneSource's experience in categorizing information on 1.5 million companies that's drawn from 2,500 sources and 30 providers—can map lines of business and SIC/NAICS codes. Further mapping is done on executive functions and business topics.

This extensive mapping underlies OneSource's Business Browser product line. The idea is to take the taxonomy and apply it within corporations to both structured and unstructured data through automatic classification and algorithmic matching. Although Schumacher claims that using taxonomies to extract meaningful information from internal data is unique, OneSource isn't the only player in this particular sandlot. It does, however, bring a longer history than most others to the game, as well as a deep understanding of how to integrate company information from disparate sources.

Despite its expertise at taxonomy creation, OneSource partnered with LingoMotors to design its Global Business Taxonomy. LingoMotors' TurboCat specializes in automatic categorization of unstructured data. OneSource claims that content from Financial Times, Investext Group, COMTEX, and Fredonia benefits from LingoMotors technology. Interestingly, the high-technology product-classification system developed by CorpTech for its corporate directory—which is considered by most business researchers to be the most detailed and relevant categorization scheme for these types of businesses—is not part of the Global Business Taxonomy, even though OneSource has owned CorpTech for several years. Schumacher thought it would be included later.

Content Optimization Services, based on the Global Business Taxonomy, come in two varieties: COS/Internal and COS/External. The former concentrates on consolidating and organizing data sets within the organization, but does not attempt to integrate these data sets with externally available OneSource information. The latter prepares customer data for integration with the external business information resident within OneSource. Content Optimization Services are likely to be particularly important for CRM. By integrating customer files with call center reports, companies are able to see patterns in customer behavior, including purchasing, complaints, and help desk requests. Companies can also link internal information with news stories, financial data, and analyst reports.

As part of the content optimization process, OneSource assesses internal data quality by comparing it with external content databases to identify gaps, duplicates, and inconsistencies. It then normalizes and standardizes analogous information fields, reconciling variant company names, corporate subsidiaries, and parents. OneSource also completes missing information in internal documents by supplying the data from its extensive files. It then applies its taxonomy to the resultant database. In many ways, OneSource plays a consultative role with its Content Optimization Services.

AppLink 2.0 is a software development kit based on XML. Companies use AppLink 2.0 as the toolkit to integrate OneSource content into third-party applications. It lets companies customize the presentation of the data whether it's for the intranet, a CRM application, or an enterprise information portal.

Schumacher said: "Business Browser focuses on the top of the pyramid and provides high-end solutions. OneSource Synergy Solutions is an expansion, giving us more services to sell, more penetration, and a comprehensive solution."

Admitting the directional shift has been both a mental and emotional transformation for OneSource, Schumacher tied the move into changes in the library and information world. He thinks business and technical people recognize the importance of both information and information professionals. Business Browser and Synergy Solutions, in his opinion, can help raise the visibility of the corporate library.

Lest anyone think that OneSource is totally abandoning its traditional role of an information retrieval company, Schumacher promised that some additional content will be coming to Business Browser. Meanwhile, OneSource may well be a beacon of change as it applies its expertise in categorization to the internal information marketplace.


Marydee Ojala is the editor-in-chief of Online Searcher magazine, chairs WebSearch University, and is Program Development Director for Enterprise Search & Discovery.

Email Marydee Ojala
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