Magazine article Information Today

Who Will Be King.Of the Portals?

Magazine article Information Today

Who Will Be King.Of the Portals?

Article excerpt

This summer there have been a number of launches of Web services aimed at business users-some from familiar names, others from the less familiar. All promise to target ordinary businesspeople rather than just information professionals, and offer a mixture of free and priced information. All are chasing what is fast becoming the next Holy Grail for business information vendors: the mostbookmarked portal in businesses around the world.

Among the familiar names getting in on the act, which includes NewsEdge and Dow Jones, there are a couple of relative upstarts: CRIBIS and CRIBIS, whose offering is the adroitly named Skyminder (, has a long history in the credit information field. Its service, it is claimed, offers a unique blend of information on public and private companies worldwide, as well as news and market research data, and is targeted primarily to business professionals in the financial, insurance, telecommunications,, service, and manufacturing industries.

"We have been active in the credit information business for the last 10 years providing credit-worthiness data, as well as other types of business information for existing customers," says Eve Sawicki, CRIBIS sales and marketing director. "Skyminder is an outgrowth of what we have done in the past-it is a global information service, with an emphasis on European and U.S. company data."

Among those offering data via the service are Dun & Bradstreet, Jordans, Hoover's, and Responsive Database Services. Dun & Bradstreet, for example, is providing its U.S. marketing database, which covers 8 million companies. Hoover's is offering its Company Capsules, which provides information on over 14,000 public and private worldwide enterprises, and includes company descriptions, top competitors, key officers, links to company Web sites, and basic financial information.

"We saw the Web as offering us a huge opportunity," says Sawicki. "Web-based products are selling well-and rightfully so-because the Web is a very congenial environment in which to access information. We thought that was an opportunity to provide a comprehensive Web-based business information product-bringing together information on a large number of companies in a single source.

"The target marketplace is the business professional who needs information to make decisions, especially those who need a specific piece of information to make a decision. However, we also expect most of our current customers to migrate to the service, which offers a much wider range of business information data than our existing electronic services. The service is transaction-based to encourage ad hoc use."'s offering (http:/www. is an outgrowth from two IBM information services: infoMarket, which offered a Web-based service that searched over multiple information providers, and Lotus Newsstand, which provided trade publications via Lotus Notes or a Web browser. Acquired last year by KnowledgeLink Interactive, and now renamed, the two consolidated services are said to make up the Internet's only free business research service.

The combined offering provides 32 million articles, reports, and other documents from 8,000 sources, as well as the ability to search public-domain Web sites and search engines, presenting a unified set of results. "We started off as a software company but diversified when we bought IBM's InfoMarket and Lotus Newsstand. Over the course of the last year, we have rebranded the company, consolidated our content businesses under the name, and relaunched the service as a mostly free information service," says Michael Gallagher,'s executive vice president of marketing and product development.

"We have retooled the information we acquired from IBM to offer extended abstracts of news articles for free, with the user then offered the option to buy the full text on a pay-per-view basis," he explains. …

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