Businesses gain powerful new tools with emergence of semantic search

Summary:The Web is becoming a more effective tool over time to classify businesses than traditional industry classification schemes. The competitors I had three months ago are not necessarily the competitors I’m going to have three months from now -- or even today -- because business changes at the speed of light, as the Internet pumps information around the world and business strategies change on a dime.

Read a full transcript of the podcast. Sponsor: Zoom Information, Inc.

Internet search has been around for years, while seeking out new business partners is as old as business itself. Can finding the right relationships through the burgeoning "Business Web" effectively exploit and leverage the increasingly powerful technologies such as semantic search?

Are businesses on the doorstep of vast new opportunities for the discovery of assets, resources, tacit knowledge and global business partner ecologies? To help answer these questions, I recently moderated a sponsored podcast on the new semantic search opportunity and explored how business relationships and the Business Web can be brought to bear on information overload and ecommerce value discovery.

Joining me for the discussion are Russ Glass, vice president of product and marketing at ZoomInfo, and John Blossom, president of Shore Communications and a noted industry analyst.

Here are some excerpts:

Search engines have become a natural first point for not just Googling individuals to find general information or haphazard information, but to solve real, specific business and sales problems. In today’s environment, with so much information being published by individuals and institutions, search engines don’t necessarily provide the level of filtering that the average businessperson needs to be able to do solve problems effectively.

Businesses are getting much more intelligent about how they use the Web to present themselves as not just companies with shareware sites, but as publishers that provide in-depth information about their activities. At the same time, individuals in business are learning how to expose themselves through that instrument also.

Why bother? Well, our research shows that most people in business start on the open Web when they’re trying to solve a business problem and find business information, as opposed to going to internal subscription services. Certainly, subscription content is still a very important part of the equation, but many people -- knowing that companies are out there publishing information on the Web -- are going out to search engines to find the answers to their business questions.

Web 2.0 is probably best described as the read/write Web, where there is an increasing proportion of content that’s being pushed out by individuals as opposed to institutions. We have a broader mix of sources and a broader mix of information going out from a range of publishers. It has some default structure in it because of the standards that are being applied, but it’s still fairly loose information.

Business publications and corporations are all beginning to latch onto this idea and to use Web 2.0-style publishing to be able to reach people. We have individuals out there in business with Weblogs. We have CEO’s with Weblogs. We have PR departments with Weblogs. Everybody is pushing out and trying to engage the world in a conversation. Now, with all that information out there, the question is how we structure it. What we’re beginning to see in the Web environment is the use of more sophisticated content extraction technologies and analytics to be able to take those relationships and to present them more effectively to information systems.

There is a great example that Don Tapscott uses in his new book, Wikinomics. He talks about a gold mining company up in Canada that recognized all of a sudden that they had all sorts of potential deposits of gold, but they had no idea exactly where they were, and they wanted to get at them most efficiently. Their CEO happened to go to a seminar that was talking about open-source software and Linus Torvald's development of Linux.

He said to himself, “Well, let’s open-source our functions." He put all of their normally secretive information about geology and mineralogy, mineral deposits that were on that property, and he put it out on the open Web and asked people to find the gold. He put out a little reward money. They got input from over 1,000 people, and doubled the yield of that property in just a matter of weeks. ... The wisdom of crowds.

The Web is becoming a more effective tool over time to classify businesses than traditional industry classification schemes. The competitors I had three months ago are not necessarily the competitors I’m going to have three months from now -- or even today -- because business changes at the speed of light, as the Internet pumps information around the world and business strategies change on a dime.

In that sort of environment, it becomes more effective to be able to classify companies and individuals through semantics and relationships that are defined through Web content, than to rely exclusively on databases based on long standing industry classifications and formal relationships. Being able to get those webs of competitors and relationships right on the fly requires an environment like the Web, where that information changes every day.

Listen to the podcast, or read the full transcript for more on new opportunities for Business Web search and discovery. Sponsor: ZoomInfo.

SPECIAL OFFER: Readers are invited to try ZoomInfo's Business Web search and discovery benefits through a special free-trial offer. Just go to www.zoominfo.com/businesswebpodcast to obtain free access to try out Zoominfo's business-oriented search capabilities.

Topics: Browser

About

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news edito... Full Bio

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