Thursday, March 2, 2006

McGraw-Hill Construction Integrates Sweets Product Directory for Rich Data Play

Sometimes the phrase "rich data" floats around like a dangerous buzzing critter that will never have to worry about touching down on anything solid: other times it's as real as can be. On the real side of rich data McGraw-Hill Construction announced a new "Network for products" online product catalog that integrates with editorial content from its online Architectural Record portal. The service provides not only product lookups but as well a directory of construction projects in which products have been used and people in the construction industry who can be contacted for product information and expertise. Manufacturers can provide their own project galleries and case studies linked directly from their product information in the Network, with much more flexibility for graphics and appealing presentations than found in typical product databases. The Network portal was still a little buggy in first-day use, but overall very easy to use and focused on its audiences needs with great precision.

This is an excellent example of the "rich data" concept at work, with three key elements represented: integration with editorial content that draws people to an in-context solution, a comprehensive and respected database source and direct contributions from the target industry that add unique value and loyalty for both audiences and for contributors who need to reach those audiences. All three are needed for successful rich data plays if they are to create not only "bolt-on" features but as well unique content value that will have long-term appeal and self-reinforcing barriers to entry by competitors. As I mentioned in my news analysis this week there are only going to be one or two publishers that will succeed in any given industry vertical with rich data plays, so the resources that a McGraw-Hill and Sweets can combine enhance very effectively McGraw-Hill's increasingly dominant position in this market sector. It pays to be rich when you're trying to succeed with rich data may be part of the moral here, no doubt.
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