The "Consumer-Ization" of Business Data: Developments with Fortune and Wall Street Journal
Every day it seems more leading electronic and print business sources release new electronic products over low-cost or free, easy-to-use, graphically supplemented venues of the Internet and consumer information utilities. Searchers accustomed to paying top dollar for text-only, delayed delivery of full-text sources could find the new emerging world of online business information profitable. In any case, they need to stay on top of developments that affect client expectations.
Two national leaders recently joined the move to the street -- Fortune magazine and the Wall Street Journal. As with most consumer-oriented electronic products, the differences between print and traditional online offer advantages and disadvantages.
Fortune magazine got the CompuServe treatment in January with the debut of FORTUNE-on CompuServe. The leading online consumer utility offers members access to the current issue of Fortune and the opportunity to exchange comments with the magazine's editors, reporters, and other readers. Searchers can also browse through back issues, participate in polls, send letters to the editors, view covers from the 1930s through 1950s, search the Fortune Industrial 500 as a database, and download Fortune Industrial 500, Service 500, and Most Admired lists into spreadsheets. They can also place online subscription or renewal orders, handle customer service questions, and order from the magazine's catalog of Video Seminars. To access the service menus, Compuserve searchers simply Go Fortune.
The Fortune-on-CompuServe forum retains complete text for the three most recent issues in the library section 1, plus six months of stories from "The Economy" and "Personal Investing" in library sections 2 and 3. Archive access to back years connects users to Magazine Database Plus from Information Access Company, but subset for Fortune. The "Fortune 500 Lists" appear in library section 5. Searchers can search online and rank companies by sales, profits, assets, stockholder equity, market value, total return to investors, and number of employees. Ranking options can include one industry or all companies in a city or state. Menu prompts walk searchers through the process. Some services in the new forum charge a premium price, e.g., the IAC archives, but many simply involve low standard connecthour rates running about the same as telecom charges on major commercial search services. In any case, the Compuserve version of Fortune answers the complaint many searchers have had for years about the lack of access to the content of the famous Fortune 500 lists.
Taking another approach, Dow Jones has released a customized Personal Journal version of the Wall Street Journal for business end users. Originally designed as part of a project to appeal to Personal Digital Assistants like Apple Newton, an idea whose time may not have come as quickly as expected, the Personal Journal provides a continuously updated, customized electronic newspaper in newspaper-like format with business news and top stories from the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones sources. It will even include advertising. Charter advertisers include Charles Schwab Corporation, sponsoring the Personal Portfolio section, and Hewlett-Packard Company, sponsoring Sports and Weather.
Users receive a Personal Journal installation software which helps them set up Personal News profiles and portfolios. The software needs a 386 IBM PC compatible or better running Windows 3.1 or higher with 4MB RAM (8 recommended), 3.5-inch 1.44 MB floppy drive, at least 10MB hard disk space, and a 9600-bps or faster modem. The Personal News' profile tracks company news and favorite Wall Street Journal columns. The Personal Portfolio tracks key stocks and mutual funds. Subscribers can download each day's edition and receive updates throughout the day through Sprintnet local numbers or an 800 number. The automated, single-click delivery of Personal Journal takes only a few minutes. …