There is a period of time where we would classify books in alphabetical order or even worst, where it was just a matter of size. And then Dewey, with his obsession for organization gave sense to numbers to organize a library. A similar problem arises today: we make a request in a search engine and all we get is a pile of results in witch we hope to find an answer, whereas the semantic web answers directly to a question.
Semantic web is what makes the word cat more than a word composed of the letters c-a-t but the representation of a mammal, feline, with a moustache, domesticated and loved by the Egyptians. From the instant systems of information such as search engines will “understand” these connections, the automation of several decision-making will be possible. For example, your car could suggest putting fuel earlier than envisaged just because it knows there is no available gaz station in the area you are heading to…and your personal computer could report automatically all your appointments that you will miss and it could also inform by email your clients because you did not listen to the recommendations of your car telling you to stop for fuel… Concretely, your computer network could deactivate access to an employee who is about to do some industrial spying. This decision will be based on an analysis of email, hard disc drive content, and an abnormal number of hours performed outside of normal business hours.
We are still a couple of years ahead of all this. We can, on the other hand, use the little bit of semantic we benefit with the actual technologies.
The existing semantic layer
Web 2.0 and the technologies and concepts that compose it contextualize a large amount of information. Blogs, tags, social networks, folksonomie, and community-based democratic editorial (digglike) all contribute so the web content is more detailed, rich and precise.
We can use all this to attract, convert, and increase customers’ loyalty to a service or a company. How? The search engines are the best example.
…to attract, convert, and increase customers’ loyalty
We are inevitably thinking of the potential of semantic web in conjunction with the potential of the search engines that take on a large role in the context of B2B as well as B2C. Semantic web takes the form of blogs, content submitted by users or even tags that allow less « search engine friendly » content to be put in context, such as a white paper or web seminar. You could, for example, talk in a blog about the strategic importance of referencing, and have this refer towards a search engine optimization guide, for example. This extra layer of additional information will allow the guide to be found, with much greater ease, by potential clients. It is equally recommended to approach other bloggers or opinion leaders, so that they too discuss it and therefore add to this layer of information that is the semantic web as we know it in 2007.
Democratic editorials (digglike) are also excellent promotion tools of creative contents such as linkbait to create awareness about your innovative products, services and publications. If they are sufficiently interesting, will be naturally pushed to the top of these high traffic sites, who then augment the significance of the content.
Stimulating discussion in interest communities and relating complementary contents (ex: a publication with a service or two research reports that come to different conclusions, etc) equally contributes to “Web sémantique” adding another layer of added value to the information available. In other words, you must be an ambassador of the content in your industry by adding, completing, commenting and criticizing constantly. This will allow you to be inevitably identified as essential to your industrial environment, and plants the seeds that will one day contribute to a business strategy and generate many public relations benefits.
As well, give your visitors the tools and indicators that will allow them to also add value to your content by tagging it, adding comments, evaluations or even submitting their own articles that you will publish on your site. All these tools will allow your content to be more visible to those who wish to see it.
Finally, there is a lot of work to do before the “real” semantic web comes to life. While we are waiting, you know what you have to do.