EMPTYNETS – HERE WE COME!

Sjoerd Vogt

Vice-President & General Manager – Dialog OnDisc/@Site Division

 

Introduction

Eighteen months ago, MAID and KRI merged to become the world’s largest professional online service. The complimentary strengths of the two organisations have played a major part in ensuring Dialog’s competitiveness in a fast-changing industry. It is an expanding industry – with information solutions being targeted at many more layers within organisations. This is reflected also in the increasing integration of internal and external services – particularly through the HTTP/HTML – with the choice now being inter – or intra – or extranet. Intranets in particular are seen as the primary vehicle for knowledge management strategies within organisations. It takes time… and NOT all intranets are equally successful. Third party content made available over the organisation’s intranet is likely to increase the likelihood of successful implementation – and leverages on the often significant investment in an intranet.

Over the years, The Dialog Corporation has built up vast experience in servicing the different information needs of the various layers within the typical organisation. These layers we refer to as the ”information Specialist” layer; the ”informed professional” layer; and then the ”grubbing around” layer For each layer, there are specific solutions that are particularly appropriate. SOME of these layers will be part of that intranet – or emptynet perhaps we should say.

Dialog is able to help populate those emptynets in a number of ways: Dialog@Site; the recently launched Intranet Toolkit; Customised DS-Web; LiveIntranet; and eCommerce. .

Dialog@Site

As many of you will know, Dialog OnDisc is THE premier supplier of CD-delivered databases for the "Hard Sciences". Amongst our most popular titles are databases such as Compendex, Metadex, NTIS, PASCAL – and so on.

Dialog@Site puts these CD-delivered databases directly onto your intranet; so that every desktop automatically has access to the databases by simply using their web browser. The administrator controls exactly who has access to which databases.

We have more than 300 Dialog@Site customers in Europe now. These customers have chosen @Site because it gives them maximum security, reliability and speed; as well as complete control over the administration. The unlimited use for fixed cost is clearly also important – as is the "ownership" (you have something to keep even if you cancel – unlike internet subscriptions!)

 

 

The Intranet Toolkit

The new intranet-based application from The Dialog Corporation gives organisations the tools to design and build customised interfaces to Dialog content, either by using ready-made search forms provided by The Dialog Corporation or by creating their own search forms with pre-defined database and search options.

These solutions can be tailored to meet a company's needs, from the organisational level to the specific requirements of departments and individuals.

The system is managed and controlled centrally by the intranet administrator or information department. Dialog Intranet Toolkit thus provides the ability to leverage the intranet as an integral corporate communications mechanism.

Users at the desktop have a variety of intuitive information retrieval options, including free-text searching. In addition, pre-defined alerts which deliver information according to their own individual requirements may be available, and access to 'hot topic' web pages, generated from pre-set searches relating directly to the information needs of project groups or departments.

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Customised DS-Web

It is also possible to customise your Web access to Datastar. This can be done on your behalf by your Dialog sales representative using screens such as the one shown. Specific databases can be made visible to particular departments for example; the look & feel can be made to be in keeping with the rest of the intranet; and output options and usage parameters can all be set beforehand for different user groups within the organisation.

Login can be controlled by IP address rather than password – which is much more convenient for end-users.

LiveIntranet

Dialog is also able to deliver entirely tailored systems that will categorise internal and external information to a common standard; typically bringing structure to otherwise unstructured internal data. The heart of such a system is Dialog’s award-winning InfoSort technology. InfoSort brings a unique level of intelligence to any data search. To deliver greater accuracy than categorization by free text alone, InfoSort categorizes data in seven ways: by Market Sector; by Country; by Company Name; by Publisher; by Publication Date; by Free Text; and by 'Scope' . The user is able to search by any of these criteria, but InfoSort appreciates that users may want to retrieve information on specific subjects such as 'mergers and acquisitions' or 'product launches'. The unique application of 'Scope' terms, such as 'Mergers and Acquisitions' or 'Product Launches', makes it possible for the user to search by context as well as content.

 

ECommerce

The company's strategic focus is on business-to-business applications that leverage The Dialog Corporation's service, alliance and customer base. Dialog OfficeShopper is a business-to-business eCommerce solution which offers corporations the ability to purchase office supplies at competitive prices through their corporate intranet and effectively manage purchasing costs. Dialog OfficeShopper features an enhanced user interface and search capabilities, making business purchasing even quicker and easier. Dialog OfficeShopper is Internet-based, and may also be integrated into a customers existing intranet.

In addition, the company is also targeting the consumer eCommerce arena with Planet Retail (http://www.planetretail.com), an Internet-based comparative shopping service for consumers. Why focus on business-to-business eCommerce? The Dialog Corporation serves over 20,000 corporate clients in over 120 countries around the globe - its activities to date and experience lie in the business-to-business market. In addition, the business-to-business eCommerce market represents a major opportunity. Market forecasts estimate that it will be worth L187 billion by the year 2002 (Forrester Research).

In creating that elusive ”integrated information solution” it is important that the parts making up the whole slot together as far as possible. This is where Dialog’s experience in delivering information solutions into every layer within the organisation is so important.