Sunday, July 10, 2005

InfoUSA to Offer infoGenie, Mining Business Sites for Contextual Categorization

Business directories and categorization schemes would seem to be naturals to benefit from taxonomies and categorization, but the truth is that most schemes, including venerable SIC codes are far too broad to locate specific businesses with specific products and services to solve a specific purchasing, sales or marketing problem. Hence the appeal of search engines, which allow queries that aren't tied down to a taxonomy - though at the cost of having to risk sifting through tons of content that may not be relevant. InfoUSA is working on an interesting solution to this problem, which they have announced will be available some time next year. According to the product announcement the new "infoGenie" service will mine details about businesses, executive names and titles, financial information, and other information from the more than 1 million business websites and create a master storage facility to offer the detailed searches to its customers. Presumably this infoUSA database of mined facts will be organized to support both single-line search queries and sophisticated attribute filtering on a number of planes that will be of use to business purchasing, sales and marketing teams.

I find it a little interesting that this gets announced on the heels of talk that infoUSA will be taken private sometime soon, especially with such a long lead time on very generally described deliverables. Clearly there's a vision hatching at infoUSA that can span a broad array of market opportunities, something that may allow infoUSA to reposition itself rather dramatically in the marketplace for business information if it withdraws public shares and then relaunches - or tries to keep existing shareholders happy. With our latest research on small and medium enterprises showing that the most popular source of external business information is information from other companies, services such as that being contemplated by infoUSA that span open Web searching and researching specific businesses are likely to find high demand in the business content marketplace, both as a media-oriented service and as a premium subscription service. Expect the intelligent use of business information gleaned from public Web sites to gain further attention via services from full-blown solutions providers and well-focused niche players.
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