Factiva’s top executive has dismissed suggestions that the company’s paid search services are under threat from high-profile free rivals such as Google. CNET News, July 2.

“Google has actually complemented Factiva,” CEO Clare Hart told ZDNet Australia, adding that while it was useful for generic information, news access required a more sophisticated approach. “Our customers recognize the value in the comprehensive service they’re getting and the time that they are saving. Time is one of the most important assets to business people.”

In their core market of professional service firms, financial institutions and information-intensive departments of corporations, I have to agree with Clare – Google can be complementary. As an example, with the Alacra Corporate Connections service, customers have told us they love the ability to conduct a Factiva news search on a person and “Google” the person right from their bio. Google results often include shareholding information from Yahoo! Finance right at the top.

It’s hard to imagine an investment bank, accounting firm or consultancy managing without a premium archival news service. Just as it would be impossible for a law firm to live without LexisNexis or West. But at the margins, free has a lot going for it and I think that’s where the battle will be fought by the established players against the free services. For more on this see Rafat Ali or John Blossom.