Monday, June 7, 2004

Bitpipe's Analyst Views Not Quite There Yet

Today Bitpipe announced its new online service called Analyst Views. The service is targeted to IT professionals who don't have access to premium IT research through a direct corporate subscription. Although Bitpipe's announcement would have you believe that this is a unique offering, there are several alternative Web-based services that provide a common search platform for finding, and in some cases retrieving, premium research. These include MindBranch (disclaimer, research from Shore Communications is available from MindBranch), MarketResearch.com, and InfoEdge. As the former director of a similar service offered by HP's now defunct DeepCanyon service, this is a space I know quite well.

Analyst Views grew out of Bitpipe's Analyst Direct service to institutions that integrates access to research from multiple IT and market research firms. Northern Light's SinglePoint service and MindBranch's Quicklink service provide similar services to institutions that want to provide a single interface to the content from multiple research firms with whom they have direct subscriptions. Essentially these offerings are integration tools that unify access and search. The degree of sophistication varies between the offerings.

After a quick check of Bitpipe's Analyst Views offering, I have to say that either they launched this prematurely or they are exaggerating the functionality of the service. For now, registered users of Analyst Views can search the database of research reports and can find a good description of the reports. However, accessing the reports is extremely clunky, because most participating research firms require general registration and users are met with some very unfriendly landing pages that scream out comments such as 'access is denied' or 'error, you are not a registered customer', instead of a page that encourages users to purchase the report. Bitpipe has some integration work to do on the Analyst Views product before one can say that it offers sufficient value-add to users over a standard search engine. Granted, most of the top tier IT research firms don't offer full-text search of their reports via the major search engines, but they are making progress in search engine marketing (SEM) and it should be only a matter of time before the likes of Forrester, IDC, and Gartner figure out how to work with Google, Yahoo, and MSN to have full-text searchability of their behind-the-firewall premium reports included in standard search results.

On the positive side, Bitpipe is making a laudable effort to merchandise IT research through a directory of research firms, and additional editorial value-add.
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