Thousands of electronic data bases, or information collections, are available for professionals in every industry who must track competition, monitor international economies and keep abreast of business trends.
These burgeoning information services are at your fingertips if you have a computer and a modem.
According to "Business Online," a book by Jean Scanlan, Ulla de Stricker and Anne Conway Fernald (John Wiley & Sons, 1989), the cost of using an online service usually depends on how much time is spent online and how much data is extracted.
Most services charge a certain amount per minute of connect time and a certain amount per unit of data extracted. In either case, the amount varies with the data base.
Following is a short list, compiled from "Business Online," of some of the nearly 600 online services worldwide, providing access to more than 4,000 data bases.
ADP Data Services Inc. ADP Data Services and ADP Network Services provide financial, investment, statistical and economic information. Most of the data bases on this service are numeric and are accessed using ADP's sophisticated software, which analyzes the data and generates reports from the information retrieved. Ann Arbor, Mich. (313) 769-6800.
BRS Information Technologies. The BRS/Search service carries major business, scientific, medical and social science data bases. It is known for its collection of medical data bases covering topics such as AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse and safety. A special evening and weekend service, BRS/After Dark, allows inexpensive access to selected data bases. Latham, N.Y. (800) 468-0908; in Pennsylvania (215) 254-0233.
CompuServe Inc. The CompuServe Business Information Service and CompuServe Information Service carry data bases and other electronic services of interest to the business professional -- from brokerage reports to stock quotations and company financial data. CompuServe's IQuest services provides a gateway to more than 800 data bases available on about 15 other online services. Columbus, Ohio (800) 848-8199.
Data Resources. Data Resources' DRI service provides comprehensive statistical information on national and international economic, financial, industrial, commodity, market and demographic conditions. DRI also offers simulation and forecasting models for major economies worldwide and for more than 400 industries and sectors. Lexington, Mass. (617) 863-5100.
DIALOG Information Services Inc. DIALOG is the "supermarket" online service, representing disciplines from engineering to physics, medicine to chemistry, psychology to demographics, along with news, business journals, corporate financial information, marketing, management, and product information. Two special services are DIALOG Business Connection, which groups several business data bases into a menu-driven package, and Knowledge Index, which offers inexpensive evening and weekend access to selected data bases. Palo Alto, Calif. (800) 334-2564.
Dow Jones Information Services Group. Dow Jones News/Retrieval provides access to the latest business and financial news. Its offerings include full text of the Wall Street Journal and Barron's, articles from 140 regional business journals, 10K extracts, and other company data.
The service contains quotes on common and preferred stocks and warrants and allows users to place buy and sell orders. Princeton, N.J. (800) 221- 7700.
Mead Data Central Inc. Mead is the premier service for full-text data bases in law, accounting and business news. Through LEXIS (legal) and NEXIS (news) services, Mead carries millions of U.S. court decisions, the laws of the United States and several other countries, and the text of hundreds of newspapers, journals and newsletters. Dayton, Ohio (800) 227-4908.
NewsNet Inc. NewsNet specializes in newsletter and press release data bases. It provides the full text of more than 300 newsletters, many of them exclusive on this service, on subjects ranging from investment and taxation to aerospace, international affairs and defense. Newswire services from the Associated Press, Reuters, PR Newswire, United Press International and key international wires also are offered. Bryn Mawr, Pa. (800) 345-1301; in Pennsylvania (800) 537-0808.
Pergamon Orbit Infoline Inc. The ORBIT Search Service provides access to data bases in the fields of science, technology, patents, chemistry, energy and engineering. Its collection of patents files is the most comprehensive offered by online services. McLean, Va. (800) 456- 7248.
Source Telecomputing Corp. The Source offers more than 700 data bases and information/communications services for the home and business microcomputer user.
Among the business information services are online trading and confirmations; real-time and delayed stock quotations, historical quotes on securities, options, market indexes, and commodities back to 1963, 10-year performance histories of mutual funds; and stock screening and analysis services. McLean, Va. (800) 336-3366; in Virginia (800) 572-2070.
Data base directories can help even an experienced online user sort through the wealth of electronic information. Following are three that industry experts consider helpful.
Computer Readable Databases: A Directory and Sourcebook, Gale Research Co., Detroit, Mich. (800) 223-4253.
Datapro Complete Guide to Dial-up Databases, Datapro Research Corp., Delran, N.J. (609) 764-0100.
Directory of Online Databases, Cuadra/Elsevier, New York, N.Y. (212) 370-5520.