Chris Porter Company Information Providers Under FreePint's Scrutiny
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By Chris Porter

Abstract

FreePint contributing editor Chris Porter introduces a new collection of product reviews and related articles looking at the ever-popular topic of company information. The collection takes a probing look at the breadth and depth of company profile coverage from a range of established providers and assesses how well the profile data is integrated with company-related news. In parallel, FreePint is also taking a look at some emerging providers who are seeking to provide a new approach to company monitoring.

Item

How important is information about companies to the information professional?

According to the annual FreePint Survey: News Needs & Preferences, very important indeed - look at last year's survey results and you will find company news ranked as the second-most-important attribute that users look for in a premium news service, fractionally behind industry news. (Watch out for more information soon about this year's annual survey).

A Variety of Information Requirements...

Researchers typically have several kinds of need relating to a company:

  • They are likely to be looking for news articles to help understand its current activities and strategy and glean hints as to what it might do next
  • They may want a detailed insight into recent and historical financial performance
  • They will often need to quickly get up to speed with major developments relating to it over the past few years
  • Beyond that, they may wish to benchmark a company's performance against its peers, whether financially or in terms of business activities or news coverage
  • They may also have a need to build and maintain lists of comparable companies, whether to sell to them, compete with them, invest in them or assess whether to buy or indeed sell them.

... Requires a Variety of Vendor Solutions

Vendors seeking to support these multiple buyer needs tend to have approached them from one of two perspectives:

  • Some vendors have their origins as specialists in the provision of structured company profiles and have extended their capabilities to cover news as well
  • Others have taken the opposite route, starting as news aggregation specialists and adding structured company data.

Several established vendors have made moves over the last year or so to enhance their offerings; and new vendors have entered the market, seeking to shake it up by tackling it from a different angle.

Market Moves

One major development in this segment came earlier this year, with the relaunch of well-known company information vendor OneSource under the name of Avention.

As shown in an in-depth FreePint Report: Product Review of Avention and an interview with the company's then-CEO, Jonathan Flatow, the changes went well beyond the cosmetic, as the vendor boldly came to market with a new product, stressing its innovative features.

The Avention launch has prompted FreePint to take a fresh overall look at the market for company and executive information services. A collection of product reviews and related articles is in the pipeline.

Reviewing Company Information Providers

FreePint will be digging into the details of company profile coverage from a variety of vendors, looking at just how much data you are likely to be getting for both listed and privately held companies.

The product reviews will also assess just how easy (or not) it is to acquire a holistic view of a company by switching between profile information and current and historical news.

As a minimum, in addition to FreePint's previous coverage of Avention, expect to see articles on:

  • The LexisNexis Dossier suite, with a focus on Company Dossier, the add-on company research tool sold in association with LexisNexis and Nexis.com
  • Factiva Companies & Executives, previously separately sold but now very much an integral component of the Dow Jones Factiva
  • Orbis, the flagship service of company information specialist Bureau van Dijk
  • Owler, a start-up with offices in California and India, which says it provides "noise-free" news alerts as well as company profiles, and community polls - Owler's founding team were behind the crowdsourced people information service Jigsaw, which was acquired by Salesforce.com in 2010
  • Red Flag Alert, a business information service covering some 6 million businesses in the UK, with a particular focus on helping to monitor the financial health (or otherwise) of a potential customer or business partner.

Suggestions for further coverage are welcome, please contact chris.porter@freepint.com.

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