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New Business and Science Tools for Info Pros
Posted On February 16, 2016
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A new year is a time for beginnings in the information industry, be they product or website launches. Here’s a roundup of recent developments in the competitive intelligence (CI), energy and environment, open access (OA), and medical fields.

New CI Offerings

Two CI vendors—InfoDesk and Cipher—have introduced new products.


InfoDesk, which offers solutions that deliver information, integrate resources, and share intelligence organizationwide, launched Life Science Intelligence Blog. This resource provides “‘actionable intelligence’ about the life sciences industry, including life science news, trends and insights.” It takes advantage of content curated by its editors, many of whom are information professionals or librarians, as well as InfoDesk’s proprietary content curation tools. For example, the company’s editorial services help its clients create custom news- and media-monitoring solutions (e.g., newsletters, daily briefings, alerts, portals, and federated search tools) that are appropriate for each organization.

InfoDesk advertises itself as content-neutral. The lack of ties to any particular publishing empire allows it to “[i]ntegrate any content resource, data or other information from any provider or source in any format and transform it into a single, ready-to-use, fully-monitored feed that plugs easily into any content management system or application.” InfoDesk has 12 of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world among its clients; this accounts for the company’s expertise and interest in the life sciences field.

Although still in its infancy, Life Science Intelligence Blog has already covered such issues as the biologics naming debate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) priority review voucher program, the 340B orphan drug legislation, and telehealth and telemedicine. Thus far, the sole blogger has been Kari Walgran, senior editor on the InfoDesk Editorial Services Team, who specializes in life science, pharmaceutical, and regulatory intelligence coverage. What’s in store for 2016? InfoDesk’s VP of marketing Sean Smith says the blog will have occasional guest authors, as well as include additional infographics and more webinars.


Cipher, a CI technology and consulting firm, introduced the Knowledge360 software. According to Peter Grimm, Cipher’s managing director, Knowledge360 “represents a transformative advance in competitive intelligence. Traditionally, CI and Strategy practitioners can spend as much as half their time collecting data and information, leaving little time for analysis and developing strategic insights. With Knowledge360 … we’ve flipped the model and estimate organizations can achieve 45% more analysis for less than half the cost.”

Knowledge360 is a customizable portal “that seamlessly integrates numerous included premium data sources with your company’s own internal files and information, allowing users to quickly find, view, and share information throughout the organization,” the press release announcing it states. By fully automating “routine aspects” of the CI process, it eliminates time spent “monitoring multiple news feeds and scouring various paid databases.” Knowledge360 “streamlines the curation of competitor information and speeds reporting with built-in dashboards, allowing users to customize what sources and information they want see and quickly create views that can be shared across their organizations. With drag-and-drop widgets, users can build informative visualizations and dynamic analyses that update automatically as new information becomes available.” It also features advanced reporting (and the ability to create presentation-ready reports), access to real-time data, and discovery analysis for detecting patterns across an entire competitive environment.

“[R]easonably priced” for small CI teams and scalable to support complex organizations, its costs range from $1,199 per month with an annual contract and for up to five users to up to $4,999 per month with an annual contract and for up to 500 users. (There is also an enterprisewide option for unlimited users that’s available for an unspecified price.)


In addition to the aforementioned CI vendor product launches, Sabrina Pacifici updated’s Competitive Intelligence—A Selective Resource Guide. Now in its 19th year of publication, is a web journal highlighting “the most up-to-date information on a wide range of Internet research and technology-related issues, applications, resources and tools.” First published in 2005 and updated periodically, the selective resource guide identifies useful sources for conducting CI within 15 categories, including Selected Engines, Web Archives, Open Data Repositories; Selected Business Info Websites, Databases, Blogs—Fee and Free; Television and Radio News Transcripts; and Selected RSS Feeds From Business Related News.

Within each category, users will find resources they may not have known about previously. Experienced CI professionals will benefit from a review of the guide to remind them of tools they might have found useful in the past, but have forgotten about and rarely use today. The summaries are brief, but they link to the sites mentioned so users have immediate access.

New Energy and Environment Offerings

Many organizations took advantage of the world gathering in Paris Nov. 30–Dec. 12 for the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change to launch new initiatives, including the World Bioenergy Association (WBA) and Internews.


WBA introduced the WBA Bioenergy Equipment Directory of bioenergy equipment manufacturers’ products. Bharadwaj Kummamuru Venkata, WBA’s project officer, explains that “there is clearly a lack of a common platform where companies can showcase their products and customers can search and compare information. This is especially true for the bioenergy sector, which is a rapidly growing area but lacks a common platform for bioenergy equipment producers and customers.”

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Barbie E. Keiser is an information resources management consultant located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

Email Barbie E. Keiser

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