How recommendation engines are changing the Internet
By Pontus Kristiansson, CEO of Avail Intelligence, www.avail.net
For many years, we at Avail have been preaching that a new age in information technology is coming. As entrepreneurs often are, we were too early.
But now I am convinced we were right.
The age of recommendations
In the beginning, there was Internet 1.0; a static media intended for larger organizations. As publishing costs were high, the amount of web content was limited, meaning a directory approach was possible. You simply organized the Internet sites into a list by category.
Then, a shift happened. Because of the emergence of new technologies, online publishing became radically simple and extremely affordable. An innovation more significant than the Gutenberg press, anyone could now contribute. The Internet exploded with content. Directory listings of the Internet just could not keep up search became the only possibility.
The limits of search
But as the Internet continues to grow exponentially, search too has its limits. Have you ever tried searching for New York hotels?
You get 111 million results.
A narrower search for Cool Copenhagen hotels with a pool generates just a mere 2.7 million results.
With 10 results per page, thats a lot of pages to scan through. You dont need more results - what you need is a recommended result that matches what you are looking for (perhaps Other people like you ultimately preferred Hotel Guldsmedens web site)
Now, even Google thinks search as we know it is broken. In a recent WSJ interview, CEO Eric Schmidt says, "as you go from the search box [to the next phase of Google], you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant. And thats basically the role of [Artificial Intelligence]."
Schmidt also sees Google evolving beyond its current passive role into a proactive agent, suggesting things you might like based on what you already have done.
[One] idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type. I actually think most people dont want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.
You should care
If you are reading this, you are probably in the e-commerce arena. So how does this apply to you?
Well, look at the evolution of the Internet - From browsing, to searching, to recommendations. It sounds familiar, doesnt it?
What people do on Google, they also practice in online stores. And though you dont have millions of results, the hundreds or thousands you may have is enough to confuse. And unlike Google, you have competition.
If you dont help your shoppers find what they are looking for, theyll leave. They will buy somewhere else, and strengthen the competition with their money.
Some companies, like Amazon and Groupon, are already taking advantage of the age of recommendations. If you are not doing product recommendations - you don't want to become an extinct Internet dinosaur like Lycos, Excite, or AltaVista. Instead your eCommerce web site needs to be a fast moving Google and define your strategy for a new age.
PS. If you are looking for a good, concrete place to start, dont miss the recent Avail Intelligence -Patricia Seybold Group on-demand webinar "Looking to Boost Holiday Sales and Profit Margins? Nows the Time to Get Personal" at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/956393259