The premise behind Factiva was bold, yet challenging: bring together two fierce competitors in an effort to monetize their archives. While integrating competitors is always difficult, Clare Hart and the Factiva team faced a greater difficulty in that, unlike in a merger or acquisition, in this joint venture, the two companies would continue to compete, outside of the JV.
Early on, Factiva saw itself as more than just an archive service. They expanded their aggregation capabilities, today offering news and data from more than 9,000 content sources. One advantage that Factiva capitalized upon was that they had no legacy infrastructure to support. So, as they built their technology platform they were able to leverage state-of-the-art content technologies from the start.
More importantly, Factiva quickly realized that they needed to add value to the content. While many companies tossed around comments that “Content is King”, Factiva realized that content was rapidly becoming a commodity. The days of users paying huge premiums for better access to content were over. In order to command premium value, Factiva began to develop workflow applications, integrating content into a users’ job.
Factiva has introduced CRM solutions, bringing together news and contact data for sales and business development. Using Factiva’s SalesWorks, a sales rep not only has the contact information they need, but access to detailed news and profile information so they have something relevant to talk about when they reach their prospect.
Factiva has also reintroduced Factiva Insight, their Reputation Intelligence application, to allow companies and organizations to mine news, blogs, message boards and other internet content to quickly assess public opinions. Unlike traditional clipping services, where the output is a list of news articles to read, this product looks to analyze and measure sentiment. This is not a trivial challenge. Technologically, text mining and categorization tools have yet to prove that they can consistently measure sentiment, particularly across diverse sets of content (informal language in a chat room or personal blog is not the same as authored text). In fact, this is Factiva’s second attempt at corporate reputation, as the first effort with IBM’s WebFountain team yielded disappointing results. This one is developed on an open platform, enabling Factiva to integrate best-of-breed technologies in a single solution.
Only time will tell if the new Reputation Intelligence product is a success. Regardless of that, it’s clear that Factiva will continue to push aggressively to develop premium solutions that leverage content within a user’s workflow. Based upon that vision, I’m adding Factiva to the 50 Content Companies that Matter.
UPDATE: For a sense of how Factiva is embracing Web 2.0, take a look at David Meerman Scott's notes on the Factiva Forum event earlier this week.