What was most impressive about our  DataContent 2010 conference, which concluded just one short week ago, is the industry's remarkable creativity in monetizing data products. What is also exciting is that many data publishers are producing true industry-standard data that's not only entering industry workflow, but easing transactional friction as well, a point made powerfully by our own Scott Taylor in his energized presentation on the power of master data.

It's hard to sum up such an intense and wide-ranging conference in just a few paragraphs, but here is what stood out.

1. Accidental publishers. A number of companies that presented at DataContent 2010 don't look like data publishers, and in fact didn't start out to be in the data business, but have now seen the opportunity to mine the data they generate as a natural by-product. Examples were provided by Spiceworks, Quantros and HealthPrize.

2. Full service providers. Compare Networks provided a powerful (video) presentation of how it has successfully moved into producing product videos, a business that actually scales well and is less labor-intensive that you might think. Universal Business Listing, which helps businesses manage their contact and product database across the web, is now offering a service to data publishers to resell to their customers. At the same time, keynoter Iain Melville, of Reed Construction Data, offered a powerful cautionary note about offering more service to customers, noting that it is important not to get so excited about additional services that you neglect your core business of selling data which will almost always remain your best business.

3. Profitable Partnerships.  In two great case studies, ThomasNet described its data partnership with e-marketplace Ketera and McGraw-Hill Construction described its partnership with Autodesk. Key takeaways: these partnerships can be mutually beneficial, but deals need to be fluid in structure and the partners must remain flexible because so many unexpected things happen when the partnership moves from concept to reality.


4. Domain Dominance. In a presentation by GlobalSpec, we learned how the company leveraged a highly detailed database of product information to become a full-fledged media company with a suite of e-newsletters and now virtual conferences. A presentation from Innovadex described how the company provides access to behind the firewall product information (how's that for a competitive advantage over the search engines), and provides gated access to that content, actually rejecting a significant percentage of those who register to use the site. Frames Data described how its database of eyeglass frames effectively powers the entire industry -- from serving as a buying guide, to driving health plan reimbursement rates, to actually operating grinding machines in optical laboratories.

5. Conquering Conundrums.  Judy Diamond Associates explained how the company sells database subscriptions by giving (a portion of) the same information away for free. LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell described how in a world full of user reviews, it is differentiating itself with an additional layer of peer reviews. And UBM Canon Communications explained how it built a better buying guide by tossing out most of the listings, and making companies apply for inclusion.

DataContent 2010 was one of our strongest conferences ever. This year's audience was packed with "up and comers," as well as those innovators we showcased early on and who have since gone on to become industry leaders. It was a perfect mix of inspirational and practical, and we look forward to serving it up again in Philadelphia next year. Stay tuned for dates!