Star Tech

CEDROM SNi: Enlightened Knowledge

“Our data universe is very precise because we choose only credible and validated sources. This is especially pertinent in our current era of fake news and information overload,” states François Aird, President of CEDROM SNi. “We help our clients eliminate all the noise created by the masses of information they receive, and identify what is most relevant to them.”

With revenues around $20M, CEDROM SNi not only offers databases, but a media monitoring system as well. The company facilitates enlightened decisionmaking for around 500 businesses and a clientele of libraries who subscribe to their main platforms: Eureka (North America) and Europresse (Europe).

In the interest of its tens of thousands of users, CEDROM joins forces with the majority of publishers of daily newspapers, weeklies, magazines, some blogs, as well as information brokers and international press review agencies.

The company’s clients can share information on everything related to their business, their competitors, their market and their industry. They can also consult the archives from ten years prior, as do numerous law offices in preparing their litigation files.

Pertinence is power

CEDROM SNi’s databases contain close to a billion historical documents and 800 million archival documents. The company also adds between 500,000 and 1 million new documents every day, such as newspaper articles and transcripts of radio and television newscasts.

That volume of information could be very unwieldly to navigate, but the company’s document structure is designed to optimize relevency, providing superior tracking capabilities that allow for searches by title, authour or date.

“The analytical model we propose identifies regional differences in media coverage,” explains François. “Our tools also help to assess perceptions and determine if a document presents a positive or negative point of view. We can evaluate whether any of the coverage comes from sources that are not influencers in the client’s industry, or even if content that is presented by influencers is negative.”

The ABCDs of CEDROM-SNi

In the 1980s, François Aird created his first computer consulting business with a friend. It was the era of CDs, so it only made sense to concentrate on that format. They came up with the idea to create databases on CDs for various industries, like a terminology bank for the OLF (Office de la langue française). In this way, CEDROM was born in 1989.

“We underwent quite a rapid evolution, which I considered normal at the time. But when I think about it in retrospect… it was really fast!” recounts François. “Every five years or so, we had to transform ourselves in order to advance. It was obviously necessary to abandon CD-ROMs at some point. The internet allowed us to expand our presence with clients. The arrival of services like Google revolutionized how research was done, and transformed the news industry. The evolution of daily newspapers and the birth of social media also had a major impact.”

“Previously, everything was extremely manual,  with scissors and glue as the basic tools for a press review,” recalls the President of CEDROM SNi. Now that their databases can be instantly updated, thanks to web technologies, the company has been able to attack a new market: information monitoring professionals.

Always moving forward, Mr. Aird wrapped up a meeting with a team from the CRIM just before our interview. “We want to develop an intelligent agent that would replace Boolean logic and make recommendations based on the client’s profile. The agent would learn according to what is consulted and would consequently improve,” he explains. In order to target another key market, that of SMEs, CEDROM SMi is trying to offer options that are even more automated and less expensive, taking advantage of the current evolution of artificial intelligence to achieve this.

Talent is always relevant

The challenge of recruitment, particularly for development and programming positions, is another indicator that times are changing. François admits to being a little worried for the industry: “It’s extremely interesting that players like Google and Facebook are establishing themselves in Montreal, but they will be pilfering the resources that are already in short supply. There are currently 7,000 to 8,000 computer science graduates in Quebec, but the demand is actually at 50,000, so international recruiting is the only real solution,” he indicates.

“In 1984, we were among the first members of the Centre de promotion du logiciel québécois, which became the Quebec Technology Association (AQT),” reminisces François. “There was this small core of entrepreneurs who I would meet at international tradeshows. In the early years, the AQT’s annual event brought together 40 to 60 CEOs. This number has now grown to around 150. I’m talking about bright young entrepreneurs who contribute to the vision of Montreal and Quebec as very innovative places.”

It is for this reason, according to François, that there should be concern with the arrival of large companies from abroad. “As long as subsidies remain, the talent will stay here, but this does not necessarily create monetizable Quebec assets for very long. If local companies cannot survive and the government stops investing here because it doesn’t get enough in return, that would be a shame…”

Source: Mélanie Pilon, Writer for the Star Tech Vitrine 

Translated :  Jenn Mierau

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