New Names for Old Faces
 
The recent reorganization of Wolters Kluwer North America Tax & Legal Business left open a very interesting possibility—that the name CCH might no longer be the name of an organization by 2004.

There’s no doubt that the name CCH will stay on the market in terms of product lines. But one of four new units, currently called Tax and Accounting, just might end up as the Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting group, not CCH Tax and Accounting.

That’s a possibility held out by Kevin Robert, CEO of the unit that combines the CCH Tax Compliance (ProSystem operations), the CCH Federal and States Group, and such audit and accounting products from Aspen Publisher as the Miller Series (the former Harcourt Brace products) and the Accounting Research Manager (the former Andersen product). Sometime before the end of the year, we’ll see how visible the Wolters Kluwer name becomes.

But as major research companies establish Internet platforms to provide a single point of access, as they work to integrate their product liens, it’s easy to anticipate what Wolters Kluwer is doing happening at its major competitor, Thomson.

It is hard to miss the increasing visibility of the name Thomson in advertising for its operations that serve the public accounting market--RIA Interactive, RIA Tax Compliance, and Creative Solutions. The advertising for Thomson units now puts the Thomson name in larger type over the name of its operating units. While it is impossible to imagine market brands such as RIA or PPC being replaced, it’s easy to envision Thomson moving in the same direction that Wolters Kluwer appears to be headed in terms of corporate organization.

Thomson has been working for strong links between its units. CCH is planning a new roll out of its Tax Research Network by next year, and LexisNexis, which competes in both the accounting and legal markets, says it will have a major new platform for its products. Single point of contact is on its way.

Besides enabling that one access point , companies developing software are likely to find it a lot easier to get product lines working together within single units, instead of trying to cross operation boundaries to formulate code that integrates. Besides, the name “Creative Solutions, RIA, PPC tax and accounting suite,” just doesn’t sit well on a pricing sheet. And if many of these products move to the Web, a short domain name has its benefits.

There’s already an example of such a naming pattern at Best Software, which bought Peachtree and MIP. While it leaves the product names on the market, Peachtree operates under the Small Business Division and MIP under the NonProfit and Government Division, although these groups are probably not going to end up tying their material together in the way CCH and Thomson are likely to.

And when you get down to it, companies that buy other companies expect to have the acquirer’s name as the one everybody knows. After all, that’s why it’s now Microsoft Business Solutions, not Great Plains anymore. Just call it pride of ownership.


 

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