Magazine article Information Today

Getting Just What You Need

Magazine article Information Today

Getting Just What You Need

Article excerpt

in a recent keynote speech delivered to the 11th European Business Information Conference (EBIC), Richard J. Harrington, president and CEO of The Thomson Corporation, said, "We need to get the right information to the right people at the right time with the right applications software to enable clients to make the right decisions."

That, in a nutshell, summarizes the demands placed on information professionals and the information content industry today. But how are these demands addressed?

Current Market Drivers

The information marketplace is evolving. Contextual information distribution is no longer just about the bulk supply of content to one demand-side entity. It is increasingly about the targeted distribution of very specific sometimes small--data points to those people within the workflow who must have the content to complete their part.

This, in turn, demands payment methods that can cater to specific data elements as well as large-scale licenses or subscriptions, which, in the future, will drive different payment and collection methods.

The key to successful delivery of future information services is customization. It truly boils down to customer intimacy, or the vendors' ability to partner with the customer to understand the day-to-day requirements of specific user groups.

This is an early view of the next generation of information content delivery that will be based on today's content holdings plus technology partners who use XML and Web services along with specific proprietary technology partners who can enable the profitable offering of value-added services.

Classical Classification

Thomson Scientific, a market segment of The Thomson Corporation, has for over 50 years been helping people find mission-critical scientific and technical information more efficiently and effectively. One of the key enabling factors in this is consistent classification of information.

One of the most important sources of technical information is patent literature. Patent documents represent a major source of technical information since, in return for protection of an invention, the inventor is required to fully disclose the invention in a way that makes it reproducible. Technical innovation occurs across all fields of technology; therefore, classification schema form an integral part of patent information.

Patent classification schemes are constructed and maintained by and for patent examiners, and their primary purpose is to help the examiners in their work. Some of the earliest systems were devised by national patent offices such as the US Patent and Trademark Office and the UK Patent Office.

However, these classification systems are applied individually. This makes them difficult to use efficiently across all the different patent systems. To address that difficulty, the International Patent Classification (IPC) system was developed in 1968. It remains the foundation of patent classification today and is currently used by more than 70 patent authorities to classify and index the subject matter of published patent specifications.

There remain, however, numerous issues in the use of the IPC for consistent and reliable information retrieval:

* The classification policy of individual examining authorities may vary. Local practice may place emphasis on different features of the invention;

* Some patent offices only apply the IPC at a very general level; and

* The USPTO assigns IPC codes to its specifications via an automated concordance that does not always provide a reliable match.

These shortcomings of the IPC were recognized early on. Consequently, Thomson Derwent developed its own classification system for patent information. Codes are used to describe the significant features of an invention and are applied by a team of highly trained experts with specialist knowledge in each of the areas of technology with which they are concerned. …

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