IHS provides information and analysis to support the decision-making process of businesses and governments in industries such as aerospace, defense and security; automotive; chemical; energy; maritime and trade; and technology.
In 1959, the Rogers Publishing Company, a publisher of technical news magazines, began indexing product catalogs on microfilm. Microfilming allowed catalogs to be updated without the expense of traditional publishing. In 1961, when Rogers was bought by Cahners Publishing, the catalogs division became Information Handling Services (IHS). IHS initially served the aerospace industry. Early clients included Martin Marietta and Convair. The United States Army Missile Command (MICOM) (now a part of the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM)) contracted with IHS to develop a common parts file to be used by contractors designing new products. In the 1980s, with the advent of the personal computer, IHS added electronic databases and full text CD-ROMs to its delivery methods. In the 1990s, IHS embraced the Internet by distributing its information products through online databases. IHS also expanded beyond the aerospace and defense industries to focus on the energy industry, while continuing to serve the automotive, construction, and electronics sectors. In 2005, IHS became a publicly traded company (NYSE: IHS) and changed its name from Information Handling Services to IHS Inc. IHS is classified as belonging to the publications industry. Since that time, IHS continues to grow both organically and through acquisitions adding additional products and services and expanding the list of industries it serves.
Supported industries and business processes
IHS provides products and services in the following industries:
- Aerospace, defense and security
- Economics & Country Risk
- Maritime and Trade
- Technology, Media & Telecom
- Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals 
Products and services
IHS offers four broad categories of products and services:
- Industry data and analyses
- Technical documents
- Custom software applications
- Consulting services and industry expertise
IHS analyzes and distributes information on Aerospace, Defense and Security; Automotive; Chemical; Economics & Country Risk; Energy; Finance; Maritime & Trade, Technology, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, to customers in more than 150 countries.
IHS distributes technical documents, such as:
- Domestic and international standards developed by Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) such as the Telecommunications Industry Association,ASTM International (ASTM), ESDU (now owned by IHS), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
- Regulatory guideline information and documentation including Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).
Custom software applications
IHS develops custom software applications that integrate IHS information databases with their clients’ in-house management software applications, such as:
IHS provides consulting services across a wide array of industries, including Aerospace, Defense and Security; Automotive; Chemical; Economics & Country Risk; Energy; Finance; Maritime & Trade, Technology, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, drawing on expertise from acquired companies such as: CERA, Jane’s, Herold, iSuppli, Global Insight, Polk, Carfax, JOC, and Fairplay.
IHS has embarked on an aggressive acquisition program in the last several years, acquiring the following companies, among others:
- CAPS (Computer Assisted Product Selection) electronics component database of PartMiner.
- Global Insight, the world's largest economics organization, serving over 3,800 clients in industry, finance and government worldwide, with revenues of over $95 million (in 2006) and employing more than 600 economists and other staff in 23 offices in 13 countries.
- June 12, 2007 – Jane's Information Group, a global information provider to the aerospace and aero-defense industries and to government agencies. Jane's publishes the renowned Jane's Fighting Ships and Jane's Defence Weekly.
- December 20, 2007 – McCloskey Group, a Leading Coal Markets Research Firm. .
- 2008 – Prime Publications Limited, which owns Fairplay magazine and 50 percent of Lloyd's Register-Fairplay Limited, a leading source of global maritime information.
- 2009 – the remaining 50 percent of Lloyd's Register – Fairplay was acquired from Lloyd's Register The division was renamed IHS Fairplay.
- John S. Herold, Inc., a leading worldwide energy research and consulting firm.
- March 17, 2010 – Detroit-based automotive forecasting firm CSM Worldwide; the purchase price is approximately $27 million.
- May 5, 2010 – Quantitative Micro Software, developer of EViews, for approximately $40 million.
- September 7, 2010 – the Chemical and Energy Products from Access Intelligence.
- November 2, 2010 – technology research specialist iSuppli and London-based media research company Screen Digest for $95m.
- April 18, 2011 – market intelligence company ODS-Petrodata
- May 4, 2011 – CMAI (chemicals industry information), CSM (South America) (automotive industry information) and EIATrack (environmental regulation information) 
- August 11, 2011 – Seismic Micro-Technology.
- November 11, 2011 – energy consultants Purvin & Gertz.
- March 22, 2012 – IMS Research 
- July 11, 2012 – Invention Machine, a leader in semantic search technology.
- July 12, 2012 – GlobalSpec, Inc. (Engineering Data/Specs)
- April 5, 2013 – Fekete Associates, reservoir engineering software and services company.
- June 20, 2013 – PFC Energy, global consulting firm specializing in the oil and gas industry.
- July 15, 2013 – R.L. Polk & Company, owner of Carfax; information and analytics provider for the Automotive industry.
- November 6, 2014 – DisplaySearch and Solarbuzz.
- November 11, 2014 – JOC Group (the Journal of Commerce), the World’s Leading Supplier of U.S. Seaborne Import and Export Trade Data 
- December 16, 2014 - Infonetics, an international market research firm that serves the global communications technology market
- April 20, 2015 – RootMetrics, an industry leader in wireless network analytics company
- February 10, 2016 OPIS (Oil price information service) - One of the world's most comprehensive sources for petroleum pricing and news information.