News you can use

FRAMINGHAM (03/02/2004) - You can find a blog about anything (including blogs about blogs). You can even outsource a research intelligence blog for your company.

Techdirt, in Foster City, Calif., sells what it calls corporate intelligence -- news and analysis about a company, its competitors and, in some cases, its industry, presented in bitesize chunks with Web links to more information. And while the media and analyst research houses offer industry-level research reports, Techdirt promises individualized content. Sort of The Daily (Your Company), circulated to clients via e-mail or a corporate intranet.

Techdirt President Michael Masnick, who started a tech e-mail newsletter in 1997, is betting that CEOs, CIOs and other execs are willing to outsource an element of their competitive research. He says his researchers search through more than 20,000 publications daily to create blog summaries and analysis for clients. The aim: to provide more focused content that a busy executive otherwise would miss. "Sometimes you're so focused on what's happening within your own company that your data filters are a bit skewed," says Masnick.

At document-automation company ScanSoft Inc., Vice President of Marketing Michael Thompson uses Techdirt data for an in-house "enterprise blog" of critical information. Thompson says ScanSoft encourages employees to check the blog every morning. "The same information helps my salespeople and my CIO," he adds.

Though Techdirt's services aren't cheap (the company declined to cite its rates), Thompson says Techdirt does the job of three or four employees, and figures he's had real strategic ROI. Others must agree. Masnick says his client list has doubled since June.

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