by Paula J. Hane
Every year at this time we run our "What's Ahead?" article, in which a number
of information industry executives comment on the year ahead. This time, however,
we tried something new. Most of the 15 executives below were interviewed in
December at the Online Information conference in London. We asked them the
1. How's your company doing in the current economy?
2. What special measures, if any, are you taking to ride out the turbulence?
3. What are your priorities for 2003?
(A special thanks to Jim Ashling, Brian McKenna, Marydee Ojala, and Richard
Poynder for their interviewing skills.Ed.)
Sweet & Maxwell, Ltd.
The U.K. economy has not experienced the same level of downturn as the U.S.
In December 2002, the International Monetary Fund reported, "The U.K. economy
is performing well." In response, U.K. chancellor Gordon Brown said, "The U.K.
remains better placed than others to withstand the impact of increased global
economic uncertainty." Latest reports suggest the U.K. has actually seen the
longest period of uninterrupted GDP growth on record (The Sunday Times,
Jan. 5, 2002).
Nevertheless, it has been a challenging year, and we have seen evidence of
pressure in the legal market: for instance, an increase in in-house counsel
within corporations and pressure on salaries and recruitment in some of the
major U.K. law firms.
At Sweet & Maxwell, we were pleased with our performance in 2002. In
our legal business, Company Law titles were particularly successful, reflecting
some change in the business climate. In August 2002, we added the Lawtel legal
online service to our portfolio, and it has continued to sell well with legal
practitioners. Westlaw UK has also continued to be a resounding success, providing
a premium legal research tool.
In 2002, we relaunched our Consult GEE regulatory online service to provide
businesses with compliance information, including Health & Safety, Human
Resources, Payroll, and Environment. Since the relaunch, several U.K. and multinational
corporations have signed up, along with large U.K. public-sector bodies.
We haven't taken any special measures, as such [to ride out the current turbulence].
We believe the key to success is to focus very clearly on the marketplace and
meet customers' changing needs by providing flexible solutions. For instance,
in 2002, many of our legal customers shifted their focus away from mergers
and acquisitions towards the Private Wealth area. We have responded by investing
in product development for titles in Private Client Business to help our customers
serve the needs of individuals, rather than the corporate market.
The acquisition of Lawtel has enabled us to reach a broader range of legal
customers. In these interesting economic times it is very positive that The
Thomson Corp., our parent company, still invests in the future through acquisition.
Priorities for product development in 2003 include looking at changes in
legal transactions being driven by requirements for improved efficiency in
information transfer, from both government and the public. For instance, we
will develop our Forms materials to facilitate electronic transfer of information
and leverage our Precedents materials with the launch of some new online services.
Changes in Company Law and Criminal Law are on the agenda for 2003/'04, and
we will be managing our portfolio of brands to reflect major government reforms.
It is critical that we keep our customers informed of developments, as we did
for the Civil Litigation reforms in 1998/'99.
In the online arena, we will enhance both Lawtel and Westlaw UK. Intranet
solutions and knowledge management will be increasingly important and we will
be working with our customers to provide more holistic solutions. Focus will
also continue on this year's successful developments in the regulatory business,
in particular Consult GEE.
Chairman and CEO
As a result of the economic situation, volumes have dropped since last May,
and this has had some limited impact on QuestelOrbit. However, we have
become a much leaner and more flexible organization since the management buyout
2 years ago, and we now subcontract many of our non-core activitiesour
data processing, for example. This means that it is relatively easy for us
to tune our resources in line with changing demand, without any significant
impact on our bottom line.
As a consequence, we have not had to take any special measures to counter
the downturn. In fact, QuestelOrbit is now highly profitable. We have
no debt, good fundamentals, and a very simple but strong portfolio built around
Our priorities for 2003 are threefold. Firstly, we want to broaden our customer
base and attract more corporate end users; secondly, we want to continue to
consolidate our services and improve our offering; and thirdly, we are looking
at possible external growth through acquisition.
To broaden our customer base, we have been putting a lot of effort into creating
nonexpert services, such as our Web-based product QPAT. And today we offer
a range of different interfaces and software tools for different levels of
expertise. Professional patent searchers can connect directly to our online
service and use the command line system, or they can access the data over the
Web using QWEB.
End users, on the other hand, can access QPAT, which uses the same data as
QWEB, but has a different interface and price structure. Similarly, in the
trademark area, expert searchers can utilize our online service, while end
users can search on Trademark Explorer, our Web product. In 2003, further efforts
will be made to improve and enhance these various interfaces and products,
including the introduction of alerting services.
We will also continue to work on new, integrated offerings that combine data
from many different sources. By integrating patent data from more than 70 patent
authorities, for example, PlusPat can provide a single but comprehensive view
on a patent. In this respect, PlusPat is unique, and we will continue to develop
such productsnot just for patent information, but in the trademark arena
A new and important focus for us in 2003 will be the development of solutions
intended to help customers better integrate our data with their own internal
data over intranets. The strategy is to broaden our offering to provide not
just information services, but also a complete software platform for assisting
users find and interpret patent and trademark information.
Finally, recognizing that we cannot always do everything on our own, we may
seek growth through acquisition. In developing our intranet solution, for instance,
we realize that we could either do it ourselves, or we could short-circuit
the process by acquiring another company that already has such a solution.
Since we currently have a very good cash position, this is a very realistic
option for us.
Director of Publication and Information Marketing
Actually, IEEE is doing very well, particularly because our content is really
mission-critical for our customers.And we have customers in academic, corporate,
and government sectorsthroughout the world. And a slight majority of
our customers are outside the U.S.a little over 50 percent.
As for measures taken to ride out the current turbulence, there are two things,
really. It's been very much this year a partnership with the library community,
to show value in the content and to show usage. So it's very much about a partnership
with the librarians, to work with them so that they can go to their management
toreally justify and secure the renewal the following year.And that's done
with usage statistics and pricing comparisons with the marketplace and really
being data-driven about the renewal process and working with customers.
In 2003, our priorities are working with our library community customers,
but also entering some new markets and developing products that meet the needs
of different constituencies within the marketplace. So it's not a "one size
fits all" world, and we're introducing the IEEE Biomedical Engineering Library
that is to really meet the needs of that biomedical engineering community that
we never really served in the past. So [our goals this year are] entering new
markets and securing our relationships with our existing customers.
Division General Manager
We're doing well at EBSCO Publishing. We're actually in growth mode and have
been able to hit our growth targets. However, we've had some situations where
our customers have had budget issues, so we've had to work with them through
that.But overall, given the fact that we've added additional databases and
made significant enhancements to existing databases,we've been able to grow
nicely over the last year.
We're definitely being conservative, and like everybody else, are concerned
about what one hears on the news about budget cuts, state revenue shortfalls,
etc. But we've not made any dramatic changes at this point.
For 2003, we continue to be focused on expanding our product line. With EBSCOhost,
we've created a platform which now offers over 100 databases, and we have goals
to grow that. So we're licensing additional databases. We're also licensing
additional full text from publishers to expand our full-text databases. At
[the Online Information conference we] signed several new contracts, so we're
moving along on that path.
We're also particularly focused right now on enhancing our customer service.
We've got a project right now where we're investing in the expansion of an
online Web-support site that we have, as we feel strongly that we want to provide
very high-quality service. We want to make sure that we have customers feeling
good about how EBSCO's treating them so they'll continue to support us with
Snapshots International, Ltd.
Managing Director and CEO
The timing of the economic slowdown created many new challenges for Snapshots,
especially as the company had only become an independent publisher in September
2001. However, our clients, who were instrumental in the changes at Snapshots,
have been loyal and supportive, helping us ride out the difficulties posed
by political and economic instability.
By keeping our long-term goals clear, Snapshots was able to publish our most
complete collection of reports throughout 2002. Our team's belief in our product
and ethics have kept morale strong even when the going got tough.
New business has been slower to initiate, as the market has been nervous
about spending any budget, especially with "new" players. But many informationbuyers
are now reviewing their sources and have realized that they can achieve cost-saving
benefits without cutting quality with Snapshots data.
We listen to the market and provide the flexibility that is demanded during
difficult times. For example, Snapshots were originally sold as regional packages
(400 reports for North America for $3,995)and although still available in this
format, the current purchasing trend often requires individual reports to be
purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis. Therefore, we implemented the single report
option via our Web site and made our product available through more online
aggregates to providegreater accessibility. We also take time to understand
how our clients operate and build discounted packages that are more realistic
to their usage and budget than a standard fits-all tariff.
Dot-com crashes and corporate scandals, such as Enron, have left most companies
and individuals concerned about the level of integrity within business. Especially
within the information world, where clients need to be able to trust the data
they are working on. We recognized that we needed to invest all our resources
into producing a quality product to gain the confidence of the market. In September
2002, Snapshots also set up a dedicated help desk, which would offer support
and full transparency of data sources to ensure quality procedures in both
our production and our after-service were maintained.
These measures have ensured a higher client-retention rate and stability
within the company and product, providing a strong foundation for the company's
Now that the market has recognized the Snapshots reports as a reliable datasource,
our priority is to maintain our reputation for high-quality content and service
while expanding the product's global and industry coverage through organic
Of course, 2002 was difficult for us as a small player. Even the major providers
have suffered. But we're looking forward to new challenges and successes in
Chairman and CEO
We'll look back at 2002 as our breakout year. We saw nearly 60-percent growth
in '02, with particularly strong growth outside the U.S. As for the key sectors
for us, certainly, IT and telecom continue to struggle, but the more mature
industries for uspharmaceutical and healthcare, food and beverage, consumer
package goodsall had really strong years. These industries are where
we have put most of our emphasis and where we have the most historical traction.
And while we're pleased with those, we plan to increase our focusin the IT
and telecom sectors, in anticipation of improving market conditions in those
Regarding the current turbulence, we are keeping expenses in check. While
we've had triple-digit cumulative growth over the past 2 years, total expenses
have grown by less than 10 percent, and SGA costs have actually declined during
the period. That's a real credit to our managers who have, in the old business
cliché, done more with less. It is also consistent with our belief that
to be successful as an aggregator, you must learn to be the low-cost provider
in the space.
However, we're not cutting in obvious places. Being an online service, the
key to our success, we believe, is the ongoing interaction with our customerstalking
to them, developing strong one-on-one relationships with them, building a foundation
of trust. So in order to maintain those, we are continuing to spend money on
our trade show presence, the caliber of our account managers, and product development
efforts intended to meet the needs of our growing user base.
As to our priorities for 2003, we will continue to be conservative in our
expenditures, but aggressive with our expectations. On the product-development
front, we will launch an upgraded version of our MarketResearch.com site in
Q2. This version will build on the strengths of the current service with new
tools to make it even easier for customers to identify relevant research. Following
that launch, we will begin an upgrade of our enterprise product. We are working
with many of our information professional clients to provide them with more
information about research-purchasing habits within their organization and
more tools for managing costs.
On the content side, we expect to further increase the breadth and quality
of our research content by spending a lot of time working with our existing
partners and identifying new partners in core markets.Despite the fact that
we currently offer research from nearly twice as many sources as any other
company, we will continue to respond to customer requests by adding high-quality
content from new sources and packaging existing content in new ways.
Finally, we hope to dramatically increase our exposure to new customers in
new markets through new distribution partnerships, great international exposure,
and expanded marketing efforts. With less noise in the marketplace, we've emerged
from 2002 much stronger, with a huge opportunity to further establish our position
as the preferred aggregator of market research.
ProQuest Information and Learning
Senior Vice President and General Manager
It's not been an easy year, especially in Germany, and even Scandinavia.
But, overall, it has been good, and we are finishing the year strongly, especially
in Asia. The breadth and variety of our products stands us in good stead in
these more challenging trading conditions. We have the four brands: ProQuest,
UMI, Chadwyck-Healey, and XanEdu. The first three of those are the library
brands;XanEdu is the new higher education brand.
We have the big aggregated newspaper and journals databasessuch as
ABI/INFORM and MEDLINE with Full Text, but we have also got the more niche
products, like the Chadwyck-Healey humanities products. ProQuest was always
strongin business and social science, and in STM; Chadwyck-Healey's strengths
were in thehumanities. There was a good synergy between ProQuest and Chadwyck-Healeyin
terms both of content and markets. For example, ProQuest was strong in Asia,
while Chadwyck-Healey was strong in the U.K. and parts of Europe.
We are also not just publishing in the English language. In 2002, we completed
two big non-Anglophone digitization projects: the Latin database, Acta Sanctorum,
which [details] the lives of the saints, but [also offers] social history up
to the middle ages; and the complete works ofMartin Luther in German.
[In 2002 we] also celebrated 10 years of digitizing the CPSU archives in
Moscow. We've done 11 million pages of that so far. There remains, you see,
a small core of research libraries that still want to collect for posterity,
and on microform as well as electronic.
Our main competitors remain EBSCO and Gale. But the former don't have the
niche products that we can boast, and the latter tend to go into different
markets. And neither has the breadth we have.All that breadth and variety helps
us to cope with more challenging years, such as 2002.
We've been staffing up in sales and marketing. For example, we opened an
office in Japan at the end of 2001 in spite of the difficult trading conditions.
For tworeasons: first, to provide some local support for our distributors there.
And second, to get a more direct contact with the markets ourselves. It's worked
very well. There have been no head-count reductions,and we [opened] an office
in Rio de Janeiroin January. I just don't think the way to deal with difficult
trading conditions is to cut the number of contacts you have with your customers.
Our priority for 2003 is to extend most of what we are already doing. The
Historical Newspapers Project is absolutely central to new product development.
Chadwyck-Healey will further develop the schools' product and the humanities
databases. With XanEdu it's continuing to roll out the online course pack model,
which has started to take off in 2002.
Geographically, Asia [is a priority, as are] the big digitization projects
that we havee.g., the historical U.S. newspapers. We did The New York
Times and The Wall Street Journal in 2001, and The Washington
Post and The Christian Science Monitor in 2002. We'll do a couple
more [in 2003].
Those products are just at the beginning of their commercial lives. I think
they will do tremendously well. The reference publishing business is also poised
to grow. In Britain, our KnowUK product tends to be the first commercial product
public libraries buy once they get online. For example, we have just done a
deal in Scotland whereby every Scottish public library will get KnowUK. And
then there is our U.K. schools publishing program in literature and history,
which is tied into the national curriculum and is set to grow.
President and CEO
Despite harsh economic times, Factiva's operating income is still strong.
When Factiva was formed in 1999, we inherited infrastructure from both Dow
Jones Interactive and Reuters Business Briefing, including financial, HR, and
many of the billing systems. Over the last 3 1/2 years, Factiva has upgraded
its infrastructure and consolidated most of its systems.
We now have one financial system and one HR system, and a single intranetan
important internal communications vehicle within Factiva. Similarly, our marketing
Web site enables us to provide better information to customers more quickly.
At Factiva, we are big believers in e-learning and use it both to train customers
on Factiva products and to train our own employees on a variety of topics.
In short, we've been able to manage costs through the efficiencies gained
by infrastructure investments and through using tools and technologies that
enable us to better serve our employees and customers. Further, at the end
of 1999, we talked to about 300 individuals from 200 companies around the world,
and we asked them, "What would you like to see in a news and information product?"
The feedback that we got caused us to accelerate our product-development
efforts. We knew we were going to replace Dow Jones Interactive and Reuters
Business Briefing with a destination product that has now become Factiva.com.
But we were also listening to our customers say, "You need to do more in providing
us tools and technology to integrate your content into our corporate knowledge
management systems, our intranets, our enterprise information portals." This
resulted in setting up a dual product strategy. Since the joint venture was
formed, we've launched Factiva Publisher, Factiva Modules, Factiva Select,
In 2002 alone, we've launched Factiva Editor, Factiva Alerts, Factiva Public
Figures & Associates, and most recently, Factiva Fusion. At the same time,
we continue to enhance the Factiva products ... [including] the addition of
a Japanese-language user interface. That's in addition to French, German, Spanish,
and Italian, and we'll have Chinese and Russian shortly. We've also built in
some other features,like split-screen capability, where users can look at the
headlines on one side of the screen and open an article and read it on the
other side. Historical market data and charting capabilities were also added.
Product continues to be a primary focus. At Factiva, our global marketing
and business research teams are always looking at areas that are influencing
the content business, whether it is knowledge management, content management,
or CRM systems. These trends, in addition to the feedback we get from customers,
continually influence where we go with our products and services.
Content, just like our product strategy,is driven largely by input from marketingand
sales. So, adding important content from all parts of the world based on feedback
from customers and salespeople havebeen key drivers. We're very driven by clearly
defined, measurable goals, which has translated into strategic success. Of
course, we're always setting new ones, so we'll have new goals in the coming
years as we wrap up our upgrade in June.
Robert J. Massie
CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service)
While the global economy has been struggling for the past 2 years, scientific
research, patenting, and drug-discovery activities continue and are accelerating
in many regions. Productivity-enhancing research tools, such as CAS databases
and search-and-retrieval services, are more in demand today than ever. Consequently,
CAS closed another record year in 2002, with double-digit growth in sales of
our electronic product offerings. We are particularly pleased that SciFinder
Scholar has been installed in nearly 700 universities in the past 4 yearsa
CAS continues to be mission-driven. We integrate the highest-quality content,
research tools, and the power of the Web to deliver the best digital information
environment for scientific research, and we remain the world's foremost source
of nearly 100 years of information in the physical and life sciences. CAS's
pathways to published research are organized around chemical structure databases
with more than 20 million organic and inorganic substances, 6.5 million reactions,
and millions of individual calculated and experimental properties. CAS provides
the world's only integrated source of data on chemistry-oriented patent and
journal literature, with more than 22 million bibliographic records and more
than 70 million citations mediated by a single indexing, search, retrieval,
and display software system.
Comprehensiveness is not our only goal. CAS also maintains unsurpassed currencyin
accessing critical new information. First-page patent data from the world's
top-five patent-granting authorities are available within 2 days of publication,
and those same patents are fully abstracted andindexed within 27 daysa
record unmatched in the industry. In 2003, CAS will be adding features and
enhancing its STN International online service, with an eye toward further
facilitating the work of information professionals and patent searchers. For
example, we will be expanding CAS's patent coverage with 10 additional countries.
The SciFinder family of end-user products, now embraced as essential tools
for chemical and related research, will continue to be enhanced as well. With
more links to full-text resources, including patent literature, and an ever-growing
configuration of structures, abstracts, reactions, and other chemical-related
information, CAS looks forward to 2003 and beyond as we continue to meetour
mission to support chemical and related research, patenting, and drug discovery
around the world.
Swets Blackwell had the most successful year in its history in 2001, and
we shall achieve our growth targets from that for 2002. We have seen the opportunity
in a market where many of our clients and prospects are struggling to make
our value-add clear, and to increase our market share and revenue.
Our products and services help our customers save money. It is very clear
that in times of economic difficulty companies look at what they are doing
to optimize. In North America, we employ 250 people; globally 1,100. There
has been no reduction in head count. In fact, the corporate, government, and
medical sales force increased from seven positions in 2000 to 13 in 2002.
We are promoting the more granular side of the business. Our SwetsWise product
is modular, and one of those is SwetsWise Subscriptions. This allows organizations
to decentralize their purchasing decisions to the desktop from a library or
information center, without losing control over spend. It gives more flexibility
with more control. Using this tool enables organizations to save money, and
that is very important in this economy.
Our priorities for 2003 are to continue to build our market share in those
markets we have been able to address with SwetsWise, but have not exploited
yet, especially corporate sectors that don't have libraries or information
centers. We see dramatic expansion possibilities there. We are looking at more
strategic alliances on the content side, with suppliers and our corporate and
academic customers, in terms of multisite licensing and consortia. There is
further growth potential in the academic sector, but significant growth will
come from markets to which we have not had as much access.
We have been able to grow our customer base within 1 year for our SwetsWise
productto over 1,000. One concrete example is a biotech customer. Biotechs
tend not to have a library, be less than 10 years old, [and have] 20 to 50
researchers. Traditionally they have some sort of secretary who orders journals
and searches the Web. They make ideal customers for SwetsWise.
H.W. Wilson Co.
President and CEO
The H.W. Wilson Co. is 105 years old, so we've had some level of experience
with regard to dealing with these downturns inthe economy over that time. And
clearly we'd like to be doing better, but we understand the libraries themselves
are having a difficult time, and we attempt to respond to that by working closely
with them and maximizing the value of their subscription dollars.
We've taken stepsas we have in the pastto be sure that we are
reducing, to the extent we can, the expenses we incur in producing data, which
we provide to libraries. At the same time, we have not turned away from the
company's main mission of making sure that they areand remainquality
databases and providing the service that the library expects from the company.
And again, we're looking at the company's internal operations to find ways
in which we can work better, work smarter, and still provide the same level
of service. That's pretty much how the company has responded to the downturns
in the economy over the years and how the resilience of the company has gotten
us through many of these periods over our history.
We try to limit [our priorities for 2003] so that we have a better chance
of achieving them. The important ones include the introduction of a new WilsonWeb
technology platform, which has been under development with the invaluable assistance
of a cross-section of library customers for the past 2 years. Another priority
we have is to complete a new internal editorial production system makeover,
which will provide customers with more frequently updated content for all databases
and opportunities for many new products that can be combinations of our existing
data. We are keen to ensure that we help libraries maximize the value of the
dollars they spend as we continue to provide high-quality editorial content
they expect from the H.W. Wilson Co.
We're doing very well. In 2002 (our fiscal year ends on the 30th of September),
we grew our revenues by 30 percent, and we expect comparable results for 2003.
Wehave 230 publisher customers, we had over6.5 million user sessions in 2002,
and there were 1.7 million documents downloaded. That's up 70 percent.
Although we're pleased with our results, we are growing less quickly than
we want. We've taken a series of measures to reorganize the company. Our focus
on our customers led us to concentrate our two offices, one in Oxford in the
U.K., and the other in Cambridge, Mass., on serving the sales, marketing, and
content management functions. In Bath [U.K.], we now have the data center only,
and Providence, R.I., has engineers and developers. We are not looking for
new business. We'd rather keep our existing customers happy while controlling
our cost base. We think that our small size keeps us flexible.
In 2003, we will continue to grow and deliver excellent service to customers.
We will have a pre-tax profit in 2002 and expect the same in 2003. Still, we
have to balance growth with investor expectations.
Georg Friedrich Schultheiss
Our experience from the past has beenconfirmed that, in times of a recession
economy or lower growth rates (or negative growth rates), information value
is recovery. That means, from our figures, we have from the last year and since
September recovered the valley, and we are stabilized at about the same as
the year before, 2000, between [the] 2000 and 2001revenue stream. That means,
in principle, if you include the price increases, it is a little bit lower,
but it is not like in other market segments where you hear of a 20-percent
decrease or 30-percent decrease or so.... We are more or less at a break-even
As you know, we are working in the sci-tech area, and ... FIZ Karlsruhe is
heavily working in the intellectual property protection area, patentsnot
so much trademarks. Trademarks is not so heavy, as we hear also from our friends
and competitors like QuestelOrbit. In this area, the industry is aware
that intellectual property protection and patents are one of the main pillars
of the world trade system. If this fails, we are in a bad situation, not only
the information providersthe whole economy will run into big trouble.
And therefore, especially in the areas with heavy investment in patents like
healthcare, pharmacy, and chemistry, it is continuing. You have a stabilized
usageof information and in-depth investigations of information sources and
qualified information sources. And this is the music we are playing on the
market, and not only [us, but] others as well. And this is received. One other
important point is that [for] years we have very good contacts to our customers,
and we are working hard to follow their needs.
Probably you know that only a few years ago we startedeverybody startedto
combine bibliographic databases with full-text supply and document delivery
services, and this works quite well.
[One of my priorities for 2003 is] my retirement! I'm going to retire by
the end of April when I finish my 65th year. I have to because it's governmental
law in Germany. Then I'm going to work as an independent consultant. It will
be my decisions then, finally.
But if you mean FIZ Karlsruhe, they are going to continue in the same way
in this international connection together with Chemical Abstracts Service and
the Japan Science and Technology Corp. We try to spread out our links to be
a neutral platform for even competing services.
Despite the sluggishness of the current economy, Ovid, I am pleased to say,
is doing very well. There has been significant growth in the medical markets,
which for us includes the hospital, teaching hospital, and medical library
markets, and Ovid has experienced double-digit growth in those areas as a result.
Academia, which is also a big market for us, has been a slow grower this year,
with profits remaining relatively flat. However, these conditions are to be
expected in this type of economic environment, and I think you'll find that
a lot of companies are seeing similar trends. Overall, we're doing exceptionally
well, and we are on pace to see double-digit growth for the year.
Our strategy has been, and will continue to be, investment and expansion;
we don't anticipate any reductions or cutbacks anytime soon. Most recently,
the bulk of our investment has been in the "customer-facing" areas. In fact,
we have dedicated considerable resources to creating a new group, which focuses
specifically on customer service. Patti Corbett, our vice president of marketing
and customer development, is spearheading this important effort. We have also
expanded our product management, sales, and sales support teams.
Also of note is our commitment to supporting technology development and innovation.
Over the past year, we have made significant investments in projects such as
our new U.K. Regional Data Center at Manchester Computing, which was created
specifically to enhance the service we provide our European customers. We also
continue to invest in loading full-text journals to our world-class collection
of content. Actually, we added almost 400 additional journals this year and
have truly strengthened our leadership position in the medical journal space.
2001 was a rather introspective year for us. As you know, we acquired SilverPlatter
and invested a lot of time in setting our company's strategic direction. For
2003, our strategy is to execute on what we spent a lot of time and energy
developing: a business dedicated to the customized delivery of content, tools,
and services that best answer an organization's needs.
Recently, we have seen documentation of the importance of reliable medical
information delivered at the point of care. Accordingly, one of our strategies
for the coming year will be to create information solutions that contribute
to the improved work flow of information professionals and clinicians in the
medical environment.An example of that would be the integration of medical
information into an electronic patient record.
Director of Global Library Relations,
Science & Technology
[We] are relatively economy-independent. Quite often if the economy is not
doing so well certain research efforts will increase. And that is very good
for our company, because that means that many institutions in the world will
buy additional material from usparticularly in our present market where
electronic publications are becoming far more important.
We have been very successful in selling ScienceDirect; we have already reached
a very high market penetration. We are adding a lot of historical data to these
particular products. We have more than 3 million articles available, and many
of our customers [are] involved in the corporate and academic environments
like this. And we have been very successful in selling what we call the back
files for Elsevier ScienceDirect.
So overall, very positive. The new products and developments really compensate
for the pressures we know to be there on the library budgets. The pressures
are strong in the U.S., but we see expenditure in other areas and growth in
areas that were formerly not growing as fast. The Chinese market is very important
for us and continues to be important. So we see overall growth, but it'sI
thinkcoming from different areas and regions as far as products and geography
than it used to come before.
Yes, we recognize that there is turbulence in certain markets. Particularly
in the U.S., there is a lot of pressure on budgets. In a way there are no special
measures, but one thing we decided a couple of years ago is that we will do
our utmost to deliver more value to the library community for basically the
same or a slightly higher price. Among that of course is ScienceDirect and
the 3 million articles [that are] available.And we have a strong drive in the
company to help librarians increase the usage of our materials. If you look
at what we call the "cost per article," we have a strong effort in our company
to bring that cost down. That's very significant for libraries. The figure
is quite often used of $30 per article. We have quite a number of customers
in the world who are paying under a $10 level or even a $5 level per article
when they have bought an institutional site license.
On a general level, we really tried hard to limit our price increases to
our loyal customersthe first time ever in our company's history that
we offered a 5-percent increase for next year across the board if you were
a loyal Elsevier customer. That's been a breakthrough. Otherwise, you would
get price increases that I would still consider moderate for the industry:
7 to 8 percent rather than the 10 to 15 percent that people were used to years
There are two important messages: We've committed to increases below 10 percent.
We've stuck to that promise and for those people that have gone the electronic
route with us, we're saying we will ... give you a 5-percent increase, which
is a very fair offer.
We are adding a lot of historical datathat's [a priority for 2003].
We've started something that we call Library Connect that will intensify further
our contacts with the library community. We've got two advisory library boards,
one European and one American, in operation.
Another important priority for 2003 is that we want to bring more content
online. As we see libraries moving increasingly into the electronic-only area,
we are trying to deliver reference content to our electronic platform as well.
So one of the big things we'll focus on for 2003 will
be our electronic major reference works. We'll be launching the first of those
in 2003, and we'll be very interested to see how that gets picked up in the
library community. It's really a serious development effort, and we tried to
bring that on the same platform as we deliver our journal information. So again,
[we're] looking for maximum integration of services and products.