William Patterson Eastern Frontiers - A VIP Editorial
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By William Patterson

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I was an avid student of the Cold War and Russian politics. From my first day at PS 61 in Manhattan when I noticed the yellow-triangle fallout shelter sign, to my days as a political science student at Penn State, I was taught the principles and politics of the Cold War and the need for a strong nuclear arsenal in the face of the all powerful Soviet Bloc. Hawkish professors, remnants of the Nixon administration, guided me toward a keen understanding of the politburo and taught me to embrace Ronald Reagan's vision of the much-vaunted 'Star Wars' defence system. When the walls began to crumble and the Cold War slowly slipped into history, I felt a little lost.

As the dust of the Cold War settled, I found my interest turning to BRIC, where the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China looked promising as key players in the 21st century. After many years of economic growth, Russia’s allure as a destination for multinationals has begun to dim. The lingering economic crisis is inhibiting the country’s desirability as a destination; for businesses that do choose to engage in Russia, the macroeconomic volatility underscores the critical need for high-quality information. In this issue of VIP, Jonathon Gordon-Till takes us through two databases: Ruslana from Bureau van Dijk, and EMIS - Russia from ISI Emerging Markets. His conclusion is that while each has its pluses, limited information about named directors, shareholders or advisors is a significant weakness for both.

Speaking of history, it warms my heart to see this month’s review of Mergent Online. Mergent is a name that brings back fond memories of the former Moody’s company manuals, a mainstay of my early business research career. If I had not learned about them in my Business Information Sources class during my last semester at Drexel University, I would have been lost in my trial-by-fire introduction to company research at the start of my career at PwC. With a major upgrade, the new Mergent Online product is now deemed ‘industrial strength’ by reviewer John McGovern. It is interesting to note that only 20% of Mergent’s existing customers are from the corporate market, although that is one of the audiences Mergent is targeting with the upgrade. Based on the review, I may become a customer again.

On the topic of content, you may be interested to hear about FreePint’s new research project. Sponsored by Alacra, Elsevier, Hoover’s and Leadership Directories, the study will focus on budget changes and purchasing priorities for premium content. You can participate in the survey by going to http://digbig.com/5bbjjy - and you should have results in hand by the time you gleefully head off to the Big Easy for SLA. The data will be handy while you troll the exhibitor hall for the next big thing in content.

-- William Patterson is VIP’s guest editor for April. He is the Operations Leader for KSO Research & Analytics at PriceWaterhouse Coopers.

This editorial appears in VIP Magazine No. 77, April 2010. Purchase online >>

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