Over the last few years, we've seen the traditional online services scramble to adjust their businesses in response to the Web. They have moved to offer Web interfaces for their services-definitely easier to handle but sometimes lacking in specific content or search capabilities. Some started to provide links out to carefully chosen and recommended Web sites for additional information. Web Center, on the Dow Jones Interactive site, searches selected business news and information Web sites, but is not integrated with its proprietary searching. Dialog, one of the oldest of the traditionals, recently launched its WebTop service, which provides a Web search engine that uses linguistic inference technology. Northern Light, once a newbie but now a basic search tool for most information professionals, combines a Web search engine with a search of proprietary information sources.
Now, a company that in the past was known as a library subscription agency has taken a bold step in integrating searching of key Web resources with searching in its proprietary databases. EBSCO Publishing, part of the EBSCO Information Services group, is partnering with Time0, a business unit of Perot Systems Corp., to add Web metasearch capabilities to the EBSCOhost service using Time0's Enchilada technology.
Enchilada is information integration technology that finds information in context with a single query that searches across multiple databases. Mark Herrick, vice president of business development for EBSCO Publishing, explained: "Our customers have been looking for the ability to integrate targeted Web searches with our existing reference databases and media resources. Libraries will now be able to combine reference database searches with online searches that extend into the 'hidden Web,' including access to content on Web sites that require logins and security checks."
For about a year, users of EBSCOhost have received suggested links to appropriate Web pages on the topic of their searches, based on a database of about 100,000 indexed Web sites maintained by EBSCO. But with Enchilada, users will be able to search key Web databases of information and locate resources that a normal search engine can't find. In addition, search engines build indexes from which they then conduct searches, allowing the data to quickly become out-of-date. Enchilada queries the source of the information for each request, providing "virtually present" data.
Company representatives said that a schedule for the Enchilada feature being added to EBSCOhost has not been finalized yet, but they would probably begin beta testing in June/July and add to selected products in the fall. If everything goes well, they say, the Enchilada feature will be released for all users by the end of 2000. The first databases to add the feature will be subject-specific and are likely to be the Health Source Plus file and the Business Source Elite file. Traffic on EBSCOhost is reportedly doubling every 6 months and is now generating about 100 million page views a month. The company is also considering additional Web-based stand-alone applications for the EBSCO-Enchilada combination.
The deal with Time0 also provides for selective EBSCO database content to be incorporated into the business-to-business Time0 Digital Marketplaces, such as Orderzone.com. For example, a company buyer looking to purchase scanning equipment could click and see full-text magazine reviews of scanners.
It looks like that old-time subscription agency has successfully transformed itself into a Web company-and users can have the whole information Enchilada.
For more information on EBSCO Publishing, visit http://www.epnet.com. For more information on Enchilada and Time0, visit http://www.time0.com.