Magazine article Information Today

Eliyon Offers Business Database Built with Web Information. (News Break)

Magazine article Information Today

Eliyon Offers Business Database Built with Web Information. (News Break)

Article excerpt

Eliyon Technologies ( has launched Eliyon, a new product that uses Web data-extraction technology to build a database on the business history of 6.4 million people and 560,000 companies in the U.S. According to Eliyon public relations director Jennifer Lichtman, this product was under development for 2 years prior to its release. The company feels its main competitors are Hoover's and Dun & Bradstreet.

Eliyon Technologies was founded in 1999. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it's affiliated with Corex Technologies Corp., a leader in business card scanning software and hardware. Jonathan Stem, Eliyon Technologies' president and CEO, holds the same positions at Corex.

Eliyon's system crawls the Internet 24 hours a day, reading news articles, press releases, company Web sites, and SEC filings. The entire database is updated every 2 to 3 weeks. Only free sites are crawled and sites with .edu, .gov, and .mil extensions are excluded. Theoretically, pornographic sites are also excluded by looking for matches to particular words. Using natural language processing tools, the system extracts information about people and the companies for which they work and combines the individuals found in multiple places into consolidated profiles. There are no human editors or human intervention; the entire process is automated. This, unfortunately, is the cause of some of the product's pitfalls.

When Eliyon's system finds information about a person, the page on which the information appears is cached and kept in the system forever. Therefore, even if the original page disappears or moves, the cached version always remains available through Eliyon. A notation is added at the top of the page that includes the date and time the page was cached and a link to the current version of that page, assuming it still exists. When asked about the copyright issues involved in the caching of pages, Lichtman felt there wasn't a problem, as the entire page is cached without modification and Eliyon inserts its notation at the top of the page.

Eliyon may be searched in the following ways:

* Job Title

* Biography, which includes company name, description, and location; work history (current and/or prior companies); education institution attended; degree attained; and area of study

* Alumni Search, which finds individuals based on their educational background

* Name, which also includes title, company name, and work history

* Company Search

* Power Search, which incorporates all of the above criteria

My preference would be to default to the Power Search, as all options are available through it.

As a professional searcher begins to use the system, some glaring weaknesses appear. The first problem is the lack of a controlled vocabulary for any of the searchable fields; all entries are free text. This begs the question of how to account for variations in title from one company to another. For example, if you want to find the names of the chief financial officers (CFO) in a particular industry, that would be fine if chief financial officer were a standardized title. While CFO is commonly used, so are controller, comptroller, vice president of finance, and so on. How would you capture all of those people using Eliyon's system?

As another real-life example, I searched for my own name. Fifty-seven matches turned up, although many of them were duplicates. (There's also no way to tell if an entry is a duplicate without viewing each individual entry. …

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