Thursday, February 23, 2006

Clare Hart and Claude Green Debut: Early Days and Much to Consider

There were few new details coming out in today's Factiva telecon. It was mostly an introduction of interim Factiva CEO Claude Green, an ex-Reuter hand who will guide Factiva's existing initiatives and help to focus Factiva on sales and financial efficiencies given his background. Clare has put the pieces together, now it's up to Claude to make them deliver for the Dow Jones/Reuters joint ownership. Little will change in the Factiva universe short-term, but it will be interesting to see what Clare can do with the whole of Dow Jones Enterprise Media. This arm of DJ includes DJ Newswires, conferences, newsletters, indexes, licensing and the Factiva unit. So Clare's core mission is - yet again - to figure out how to blend in these disparate pieces into a whole. Clare did not indicate that there was any eminent plan to integrate consumer efforts in any new way, but it's day one and with so many changes on the consumer side of Dow Jones as well we'll see what happens. With Clare's focus on search as a driver of content value I stand by my original comments about "Yahoo! for business" being the ultimate DJEM goal.

In many ways Clare's challenges parallel those of Thomson's several years ago, when they had disparate enterprise and media products with little cohesion requiring integration into a client-focused whole. While the DJEM set of products is more limited and fragmented than Thomson's full kit a few years ago, in many ways the challenges are the same: simplify and reduce the cost of infrastructure, create a more cohesive brand and a delivery mechanism and marketing approach that are more client-centric than product-centric. One huge advantage that Dow Jones has at this time compared to Thomson in beginning these intiatives is that they retain and continue to grow ad-based revenues alongside enterprise subscription revenues. Thomson jettisoned its print-based ad properties a few years ago to concentrate on building a more cohesive enterprise business, which has paid off in some ways but now lacks the media content to drive margins as the ad business begins to thrive in electronic channels. So being attached to a "consumer" media business that is reinventing itself in very powerful ways will be a huge plus for DJEM.

Clare will have her hands full for a few months establishing her creds at a new level of the Dow Jones organization, but with Rich Zannino committed to being "hands on" in moving Dow Jones' strengths into a 21st century content market, she has been given license to prove that her broad vision of the possibilities for business content in today's enterprise markets can unfold more fully. That may prove to be tough to do with some of the products under the DJEM umbrella, but one suspects that with acquisitions and careful planning this is just the very beginning of a very different tune being played by Dow Jones.
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