In a press release on Thursday, Contact Networks (now owned by Thomson Reuters) annouced that it is adding LinkedIn data into its Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) software. Here’s the meat of the press release:

ContactNet automatically maps a firm’s entire external relationship network, uncovering whom the firm knows and calculating the strength of each relationship. This relationship knowledge is of critical value to professional services firms seeking to win new business, retain clients in a difficult market, cross-sell services, or collect competitive intelligence. With the new LinkedIn integration, ContactNet now also includes the relationships that a user has within their personal LinkedIn network. Companies are now using ContactNet’s powerful enterprise software to find and rank relevant relationships firm-wide while leveraging employees’ LinkedIn networks, accelerating their ability to reach all the most valuable contacts and key business introductions.

Now, as interesting as this is, I actually got to see a demo of a few of the Thomson Reuters products (that are now in Beta or Alpha production.) The new version of West Monitor (aka Firm360) has some good functionality for competitive intelligence purposes, and they have sped up the reports considerably. The new release (scheduled for around the first of ’09) also is supposed to integrate Web Part functionality for SharePoint integration (this will be a very, very good function for things like client pages.)

The best demo I saw was one for Contact Networks that is scheduled for release around April of ’09. Contact Networks is developing a web browser plug-in that will look that the web page and create hover windows for information that matches your Contact Networks ERM data. In other words, if a client’s name appears in the web page, you can hover your mouse over that name and you’ll get a pop-up window showing some basic information about the client and who the contacts are within your firm. You could then click on the information and launch a report from Contact Networks giving you additional information. Apparently, this will also work on people names as well (but I’m imagining that this may have some quirks that may need to be worked out first.)

This sounds like a great enhancement, and a very useful function to pass information quickly to the attorneys or others within your firm. From what I could see in the demo, it looks like it is set up to work in Internet Explorer (but could possibly work in other browsers as well.) But, most firms are IE focused, so it may be an IE only tool.

So, if you have Contact Networks, it looks like there is some great additions coming your way next year.