LexisNexis Expands Customer Access To Its Products

Common user interface and data integration will open international markets for company's core brands.

Steven Marlin, Contributor

July 23, 2003

2 Min Read

LexisNexis, the legal research publishing arm of Reed Elsevier plc, said Tuesday it's integrating the information scattered across numerous databases into a single system. Code-named Rosetta, the system provides a low-cost model for extending the company's core brands, like Martindale-Hubbell, Matthew Bender, and Butterworths, into international markets.

A common product platform makes it easier to offer products developed for one geographic market in others, company executives say. In March, for example, LexisNexis' German subsidiary began offering customers access to Company Dossier, a corporate directory developed for the U.S. market.

The product of a two-year development effort and intensive market research, Rosetta weaves some 35,000 sources of legal information, news, and public records into a single repository, stamping numerous product lines with the LexisNexis brand. It also serves to strengthen the company's position against such key rivals as Thomson Corp.'s West Publishing Co. "We know we have to keep pace with our competition," says LexisNexis senior VP Jim Peck.

Law firms and businesses will benefit from Rosetta's ability to deliver information through a single interface, says David Whelan, director of the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. "It makes sense for LexisNexis to adopt a single format for all their data."

Rosetta will encourage subsidiaries around the world to offer online services in addition to their traditional print products. "The business model is changing from book to book-and-online," Peck says. "We're building a platform for the online world."

The platform includes a core search engine and XML-based Web services operating on clusters of Unix servers and IBM mainframes. The company established XML data-type definitions for its billions of legal, news, and business documents. "We're using industry-standard technologies to allow integration with our customers," says Amy Bloebaum, VP of product technology and infrastructure.

The project required little in the way of hardware investment, with the data center in Dayton, Ohio, providing ample processing capacity. Most of the costs were tied up in software development, including swapping proprietary code for industry-standard software. The company hired Infosys Technologies Ltd., an Indian software-development company, to assist its own programmers.

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