Magazine article Information Today

DataTimes' Big Move

Magazine article Information Today

DataTimes' Big Move

Article excerpt

It is a truism that change is constant in the online world. This old cliche has taken on greater import over the last few years with the emergence of a second generation of online services. This has occurred from a convergence of two great trends. The first is the maturing of several technologies: relevance search engines, graphical user interfaces, client/ server computing, high-speed data transmission, and powerful desktop computers. These have been joined into sophisticated yet practical online search systems that were visionary only a few years ago.

The second is the appearance of a genuine end-user market. It includes managers, professionals, and business people who have come to recognize the need for information in their work. They are comfortable with computers, especially organizational networks that give the "feel" of information retrieval. Through publicity in the media, examples of colleagues, and library outreach, they have accepted the notion of online searching. Finally, they are enticed by the prospect of second-generation, user-friendly online services. These potential new online searchers expect the same things from online information that they have in their other computer applications: speed, Windows-type cross-functionality, colorful interfaces, and attractive pricing methods.

The first generation services, including pioneers like DIALOG, NEXIS, Dow Jones News/Retrieval, NewsNet, and DataTimes, are scrambling to catch up. They are impeded by their first-generation constraints: aging hardware and software, restrictive contracts with data suppliers, and profit margins that leave little room for large R&D expenditures. Nevertheless, the first-generation services see the handwriting on the wall, and are hustling, sometimes haphazardly. They search for alliances. They bolt relevance engines on their existing software and lay GUIs over top of it. They tinker with pricing and marketing variations.

DataTimes Rolls the Dice

Nobody has tried to come further faster than DataTimes. With their new EyeQ service, they have rolled the dice on a vastly ambitious and expensive makeover. They have rebuilt from the ground up: new data, alliances, software, interface, and pricing. This bootstrap effort is generally successful, and redefines DataTimes as a second-generation online service.

Hustling is second nature to DataTimes. From its modest beginnings as an online service bureau for Midwestern newspapers, it has always had its eye on the next level. DataTimes' first big step to become a mainstream business information service was its alliance with Dow Jones News/Retrieval. Their "shared platform" concept gave DataTimes all of News/Retrieval's business and finance content, and it appeared, for all practical purposes, that the two services were merged. Recently however, Dow Jones and DataTimes have gone their separate ways, and News/ Retrieval's valuable content is no longer part of DataTimes.

The Dow Jones departure left DataTimes back where it started--with a core of U.S. regional newspapers and big ideas. It decided to bet the farm on a complete re-creation of DataTimes, a Great Leap Forward that would catapult EyeQ to the head of the pack.

New Data for DataTimes

To replace the lost Dow Jones content, DataTimes has done deals with several major business information producers, including Dun & Bradstreet, Disclosure, Standard & Poor's, Media General, Thomson, Reuters, and Information Access Company. DataTimes has arranged all of its content into two main sections: general and business news, and company and financial information.

For general and business news, DataTimes has mixed and matched to cover U.S. regional, U.S. national, and international events:

* DataTimes' collection of 100-plus U.S. regional newspapers

* A smaller set of national U.S. papers, including USA Today

* Business Dateline, for coverage of U.S. regional business news

* Newswires, including Reuters, AP, PR Newswire, Business Wire, and Canada Newswire

* Transcripts of news and discussion programming from Burrelle's Broadcast Database

To supply more in-depth coverage of specific markets, industry sectors, and international business, DataTimes has added five popular Information Access Company databases: PROMT, Trade & Industry ASAP, Newsletter Database, Globalbase, and MARS. …

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