Friday, May 6, 2005

Thomson's Harrington: The Fire Hose vs. The Sprinkler

Thomson Corp. CEO Richard Harrington sounded off at the company's annual meeting as noted in a recent Globe and Mail article on the difference between Thomson's highly focused content products and open Web searches such as Google. "Thomson is the Google for the high-end professional user," Harrington noted, seeing the Googles of the world as the fire hoses of content and the professional services such as Thomson as inch-wide, mile-deep solutions highly targeted towards their users' needs in legal, financial, educational, and scientific/health care. Thomson's results have certainly held out the strength of that strategy, providing highly effective integration of premium content sources into the workflows of professionals in these lucrative market segments. Being able to tune content to specific needs in context is the key to creating highly valuable content products today, no doubt. But interestingly enough a study that for which we've just completed field work indicates that across major segments Google comes out more highly rated as a source of business information than major subscription content services amongst institutional purchasers of content. A well-tuned search can be an inch-wide, mile-deep content service unto itself, reminding us that the aggregation game is going to get more competitive in core B2B markets as more and more technology-oriented players try to add value in institutional marketplaces. We're voting for the sprinklers to win in this marketplace, but there will be a lot of hoses being tamed to get those streams to institutional users in the years ahead.
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