New York, NY – If you have ever tried to do serious investment research using the Internet you know how hard it is with consumer search engines like Google or Yahoo. The good news is that last week, San Mateo, California-based business search software firm FirstRain released a new web-based research tool to help investment analysts find exactly the company or industry specific information they are looking for.
The New Platform
One of the particularly unique attributes of the new research platform is that over 15,000 companies are categorized by specific business lines, key competitors, industry and company-specific topics in order to create proprietary company and industry-specific “ecosystems” which aid in company research and monitoring.
Besides the proprietary ecosystems developed by FirstRain, the new research platform also synthesizes and presents this information in a visual manner that makes it easier to analyze and spot important industry or company developments or trends. In addition, FirstRain’s new research platform categorizes all the information it gathers into over 3,000 themes and categories related to an industry and broad business and economic matters.
FirstRain sources textual information from both the broad web as well as differentiated content sources like industry journals and quality blogs. Currently, the firm searches over 30,000 different sources from over 150 countries, and categorizes this information in over 3,000 different topics.
One of the major benefits of FirstRain’s new research platform is that it eliminates much of the duplicative content that users find using traditional search engines. In addition, the new platform helps users identify intricate relationships around content, thereby making it easier to make sense of largely unstructured and uncategorized content on the web.
Integrity Giving It a Try
A few of the sales people and analysts at Integrity have started using the new FirstRain research platform and have, thus far, found it to be a great way to monitor the over 2,600 research firms we track and to stay on top of a variety of interesting things like industry pieces and opinions or any announced or unannounced mid-to- senior management changes that can be detected from the web.
I particularly appreciate the “company report” feature which compiles information from disparate sources around the web and lays it out in a coherent manner, identifying competitor developments, management changes, and other related industry trends. So far, it has saved me considerable time in a number of research projects I have worked on. Of course, it still is a little too early to make a definitive judgment about the product, but my initial feedback has been quite positive.
Bigger Market Opportunities
Since FirstRain’s founding in 2000, the company has focused on serving buy-side and sell-side analysts and investment professionals with a sophisticated search-based productivity tool. However, the release of their new research platform seems to open up a much larger corporate market for the firm.
Certainly, financial analysts will find FirstRain’s new product useful. However, consultants, sales and marketing professionals, strategic planning departments, investor relations executives, and other business professionals who find it necessary to regularly monitor competitive developments or research company and industry trends will also benefit from the new service as well.
Of course, FirstRain is not the only firm in the “search-based research” space. At last count, the team at Integrity has identified over two dozen firms that focus either on text-based search platforms like FirstRain, or more data oriented search products like Kapow or Connotate.
However, FirstRain has proven that they have been able to gain traction for its services with the financial services community (the firm boasts over 10,000 users at over 100 firms). The big question that remains is, “Can FirstRain be as successful with the broader corporate market as it has been with buy-side and sell-side analysts?” We will have to wait and see.
(Disclosure: Integrity Research Associates’ CEO Sandy Bragg is an advisor to FirstRain).
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