Friday, April 25, 2008

Dow Jones and the Future of Business Information: Navigating to the Real-Time Economy

I had the pleasure to speak recently on an analyst call with Dow Jones' Darr Aley, incoming VP of Marketing and BD for their new Business & Relationship Intelligence unit being formed from their acquisition of Generate, along with Simon Bradstock, VP of Corporate Products. After congratulations to all for a great acquisition we went through some of the ins and outs of how Dow Jones will be using Generate's assets to generate new market opportunities and to accelerate their existing deal flow. While many of the details that we went over parallel closely my earlier post on this acquisition, we explored also the ways in which Generate assets will help Dow Jones to penetrate both global markets and other specific market sectors. Certainly, as I discussed earlier, the potential for WSJ.com assets to benefit from this new relationship will loom large, as will integration with Factiva content and platform assets, but in looking at the other assets of Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group, including its news wires, one can see more than just a few extra sources for an already robust business intelligence platform.

What the Dow Jones-Generate acquisition deal represents in its broader context is a dawning era in business information in which new methods of rapid content aggregation and analysis from any potential source are creating a powerful new real-time economy with a high potential payoff for both enterprises and publishers. Much is still made about having leverage through licensable content. When the content's truly unique that's still a reasonable premise, but too often aggregators rely on commoditized content that doesn't enable businesses to get real execution advantages in business over their competitors.

By providing semantic analysis of freshly harvested information from the Web and other sources and mapping it to the relationships that an individual or an enterprise have that can respond to that analysis the combined capabilities of Dow Jones and Generate create powerful new real-time opportunities for creating value from those insights with specific business partners and clients. It's not so unlike what happened in financial markets as they provided more real-time harvesting and analysis of market data and news, but now business information sources from a far wider array of souces can provide similarly valuable and executable insights for a far broader array of business professsionals. If personal relationships drive the highest margins in business, then tools such as Dow Jones' new stable of business intelligence tools from Generate are going to be a key factor in helping professionals to harvest value from those relationships when they're the ripest for the picking.

Dow Jones is not completely alone in this, of course: I reviewed recently Yellowbrix's very intriguing value-add semantic analytics that map trends in news to financial markets and InsideView's semantics-driven sales tools driven by online news sources, subscription databases and relationship management tools are recent examples of how broader real-time insights into events affecting companies and people are driving the value in today's publishing. Much of this value comes not from externally licensed content from from the added value provided by the real-time analysis of this content regardless of its source. Over time the time series data built up through these kinds of services will provide other aspects of unique value for licensing, but these will be secondary to the ability to provide real-time context that can lead to deals at the most important point in time. It's like watching the financial market data business being reborn for the entire range of opportunities for executing business in a wide variety of business sectors. The future of business information is taking shape today - and it's very interesting and high-value stuff. Here's to very interesting times ahead indeed.
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