Do Web Search Engines Understand Your Research Intentions?


On a recent blog post on Google Squared and Wolfram Alpha, Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain, commented:

The key issue for business people is whether the system (search and analysis) they are using understands their world or not. John Battelle has written about the web is moving from intentions to insights and technologies continue to develop, like Google Squared, to create structure out of web data. But to get useful structure you have to make an assumption about the end domain. Just put “Cisco” or “networking” into Google Squared and you’ll see the problem.

The win for end users – especially business and research users – is when the system knows the end domain and can create business structure (and so useful insights) from the web.

Ms. Herscher expands on these thoughts here: The Latest Web Search Development: From Intentions to Insights. An excerpt follows:

Bing and more recently Google have introduced contextual information to their searches as a way to make more sense of the web and better meet the expectations of users. Even so, Bing and Google are still operating in a web that represents a database of intentions — and the new intentions are social and status updates.

In the business world, people are interested in different signals and so require more sophisticated search capabilities than Bing or Google. I believe the compelling “little signal” in the business world is what has changed and it is generated by the detection of what I call events, which are patterns, connections and anomalies of interest to business decision-makers. What has changed about a business and it’s market is a powerful signal. When detected by sophisticated search capabilities, it can transform the web from a database of intentions to a database of actionable business insights.

Detecting the “what has changed” signal by finding, sorting and making sense of relevant events requires a new class of search technology called intelligent business search. Intelligent business search turns the unstructured, messy, duplicative and rich content available online into an analyzable data set of business ideas, relationships, facts and trends. It derives the implied business structures of companies, industries, management, markets and the relationships that connect them. And it applies trend and anomaly detection to discern what may be emerging, unusual or material.

Link to full article on The Huffington Post


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  1. In order to achieve proper “content in context”, research search engines are part of the potential solution. Another important part is at the “grass roots” research meta data TAGGING level. is a not-for-profit organization, consisting of research publisher, consumers and vendor intermediary organizations that embrace and adopt XML-based tagging standards for research. These days, research data structure is taking on greater meaning as firms build out their commercial constructs for research, in order to be paid for research that finds its way into client consumer “playlists”.

    Please see for further detail. We welcome new member participation.

    Thanks very much.
    Jack Roehrig
    Executive Director

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