Magazine article Information Today

Dialog Corp. Execs Announce Plans in Multi-City Tour

Magazine article Information Today

Dialog Corp. Execs Announce Plans in Multi-City Tour

Article excerpt

In mid-February. Dialog Corporation executives Dan Wager, Jeff Galt, and Jason Molle, plus chairman emeritus Roger Summit, launched a 2-week, 18-city tour across the U.S. to meet with key customers and the press. I joined them in Dallas--the fifth stop on what was surely an exhausting trip for them, although they certainly hadn't tired of repeating their presentation at that point in the tour.

In fact, they seemed exhilarated at the turnout and the chance for interaction with their customers and glad for the opportunity to lay some major announcements before them. After the 2-hour breakfast briefing, they left on schedule to host a similar lunch meeting in Houston, to be followed by a cocktail-and-dinner briefing in Atlanta. What a day!

Addressing the Information Professional

Executive vice president Jeff Galt made it clear that DIALOG was reaffirming a strong commitment to its information professional customers and that these meetings were important for the sharing of information and understanding the vision of the new company.

"We are in this together--our future is tied to your future," said Galt. He noted that they were busy melding two very different corporate cultures following the acquisition of KRI by MAID, but that the company strengths were complementary. He promised that the new DIALOG would be an even stronger partner for information professionals.

A Merging of Companies, Cultures, ... and Data

The invitation to the event had reiterated the wedding theme used during the acquisition: "You are invited to join our key executives to celebrate the marriage of the year between Profound & Knight-Ridder Information, Inc." Being a bit weary of this metaphor, I was relieved to see no mention of it that day. Instead, Dan Wagner, president and CEO, stuck to the businesslike term "merger."

"This wasn't the merger of two companies," said Wagner. "This was the merger of three companies." He noted that the DataStar service purchased by Knight-Ridder in 1993 had never been integrated with DIALOG. A study of the three services revealed DataStar's databases had a 30 percent duplication of DIALOG data, and that Profound had a 70 percent duplication.

Wagner announced that the company would undertake a major content loading operation that will add the unique content from DataStar and Profound to DIALOG's content. The resultant single source, DIALOG, will comprise 9 terabytes of information--over 50 times the content of the Web. The top 30 commands used on the DataStar service will be mapped to DIALOG, and users who prefer DataStar will be able to search with that interface. Beginning in September 1998, customers will have one code to access the merged DIALOG data with their choice of interactive interface--DataStar Classic, DIALOG Classic, DIALOG Web, DIALOG Select, or Profound Business. There will be a single bill.

To better support increased usage, Wagner said, Dialog will invest $3 million in its network backbone, with multiple POPs (points of presence). The company will continue to offer its groupware products (such as CD-ROMs and intranet services) and databases for its various alliances that reach other audiences (such as WESTLAW, AOL, CompuServe, and British Telecom).

In addition, Dialog plans to create Web pages of information about individuals and companies mentioned in articles, with links from the articles. Users could then easily request additional information, such as news items, financials, etc. There will also be external links to Web resources, such as a company's home page, and links to map a DIALOG search to a Web search engine, such as AltaVista.

Simplified Pricing Structure: Two Options

Wagner noted that the online services and information professionals have both experienced a significant threat created by confusion in the marketplace from the Internet. It is clear that the price of information is coming down, he said, and that, despite the value offered by online services, those services need to work with a new pricing model to remain viable. …

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