Overcoming Language and Performance Barriers

Article excerpt

Any kind of barrier can keep people from reaching goals, literally or figuratively. In this month's column, I'm focusing on two articles from the April issue of The Information Advisor (IA): One looks at a company that provides optimal Chinese-language information; the other recommends two sources for industry benchmarking. Both articles can help you maneuver around any roadblocks that could cause detours on your path to finding data.

Asia-Specific

The first sentence of author Bob Berkman's profile on Oriprobe Information Services, Inc. (pp. 4-5) cuts right to the chase: "While the internet has helped reduce the complexity and time to perform global research, one hurdle that remains is access to information in non-English languages." If you know how difficult this task can be, Oriprobe offers helpful options. Here's how.

Users can choose from books, reports, journals, dissertations, and even conference proceedings. Oriprobe also provides information on Chinese patents and standards, policies and laws, and government archives, including material on the Communist Party, and Chinese companies and products. Services such as translation and document delivery fall under Oriprobe's umbrella. The company's flagship product, China/Asia on Demand (CAOD), culls 40 million research articles from about 10,000 journals.

Oriprobe can give its users a definite competitive advantage since even professional databases often have a dearth of native Chinese information. What Oriprobe doesn't offer is multiple searching options: Browsing is done by journal or book or via keyword. IA noted that keyword search is the best way to locate a particular item within the database. Keyword searches can be performed using a quick search box or by using an advance search for more precision searching. Boxes can let searchers use Boolean strings, and key fields (author, title, year range) allow for restricted searching.

While most of the content is from Chinese publications, 95% of article titles and abstracts have been translated into English. Afield search can be limited to words in the title or the abstract. If you or one of your colleagues knows Chinese, you can also add Chinese characters into the search box. Another way to use the full text in Chinese is with an auto-translating site such as Google Translate. In general, searching is facilitated by using proper names, whether it's a person, company, or product. Once you retrieve the articles, you can select the "If you need translation services click here" link, which is displayed after you choose an article to view. For $30 to $50 per 1,000 characters, Oriprobe will have a human translate the article with a quick turnaround time.

Since there is no subscription fee and no search costs associated with CAOD, IA recommends Oriprobe to its readers, saying: "We believe it should be an important part of any business researcher's search toolkit. ... "

Coming Off the Bench

If you need to evaluate a firm's performance--yours or a competitor's, "Two Top-Notch Sites for Industry Benchmarking" (pp. 6-7) examines two online products that provide peer benchmarking using different approaches and methods: ProfitCents from Sageworks, Inc. and Business Scoreboard from Fintel.

ProfitCents is valuable to anyone who does financial comparisons and benchmarking, according to IA. Its data is pulled mainly from sets of financial statements that are submitted by accountants. …

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