Scott Schulman, President, Dow Jones Corporate Markets
A colleague of mine once said of the Internet that “free costs too much.” This was no Neanderthal. On the contrary, he recognized the inherent and significant value of the medium and even much of the content therein. He was referring rather to the time we waste and the opportunities we miss, to the imprecision and outright inaccuracy of a Web that is at once essential and untrustworthy.
The world is waking up to the reality that having all the information in the world just a few keystrokes away isn’t enough. Certainly not for business. To get from data to decision takes more than just information. It requires most of all trusted content along with a reasonable assurance that you’re finding and not just searching.
The free Web is an amazing resource – that is for sure. But not every link is worth following. Not every source on the free Web is reliable. We know that. In a knowledge economy where commerce is driven by ideas, businesses cannot take a haphazard approach to information. They need sources they can trust, that save time, avoid information overload and anticipate their needs. Business needs sources to help improve awareness and efficiency and that curtail risk.
You would have thought that by now we’d have a more nuanced view of the value of Internet content. Today’s prime search engines aren’t designed to minimize the clutter; they’re designed to maximize your clicks because that’s where the money is made.
Then there are the results themselves. They are in large part the reflection of connections. The more links to a given page, the greater weight given the results. The more likely the page is to attract traffic, the more likely it will turn up in your search. Not exactly how you find the needle in the haystack if you’re a businessperson looking for opportunities. Independent research from Outsell indicates that one in three businesses searches fail. That’s zero productivity one third of the time. Why would a competent manager abide such waste? The real costs of inefficient search are probably much higher than just a one-third productivity haircut. Not having the right information at the right time is both cost and risk for business.
What business wouldn’t pay for the right information at the right time? Yet some still set “free” as the price point for awareness and thus their future. The Internet changed a lot of things, and rightly so. One thing it hasn’t changed is the value of quality. It is as essential in business information as ever. Quality information, presented in effective ways, still has value; and that value is worth paying for.
Scott D. Schulman is president of the Corporate Markets Group of Dow Jones & Company where he leads the innovative business news and information products serving professionals and corporations worldwide. These services are designed to help business professionals better monitor and uncover opportunities in the markets, industries, companies and regions that matter most to them.
Mr. Schulman oversees core brands including Factiva, one of the largest electronic business aggregators and archives in the world, as well as Dow Jones Companies & Executives, Dow Jones Insight, Dow Jones Watchlist, The Wall Street Journal Professional Edition and more. These brands and other Corporate Markets Group services are designed to meet the needs of professionals in consulting and professional services, enterprise and business management; public relations and corporate communications; research and knowledge management; and risk and compliance. Mr. Schulman is currently leading a significant investment and expansion in Factiva as well as Dow Jones’ offerings in risk and compliance and corporate communications.