Why Real-Time Search

Why real-time search indeed. I once had a wonderful job in a retail environment. Information was processed on a continual basis and posted into a robust business intelligence system, and summarized by day. From time to time, a specific store’s data was still processing by the time our business managers rolled into the office and was therefore missing at the start of the new day. Half the group would lament: “How can I run my business if I don’t have yesterday’s sales information” and the other half would counter: “You can’t possibly be managing your business strategically if you react to sales changes on a day-by-day basis”. Is there a point at which timeliness of information yields zero incremental value?

Enter real-time search. With the advent of services and techniques such as Twitter, Digg and microblogging, a new, unfiltered source of continual and real-time information flow has been created and made accessible. It is accessible through real-time search engines such as Scoopler, Tweetmeme and others. Google is not currently a player in this space. Using Google, one can search well established and indexed sources such as web sites – in fact each site’s popularity determined through an algorithm which, to a certain extent, rewards having been around long enough to have been linked to by other sites. Using Google, one can search news sites and services as well, getting current, but edited content which has gone through some validation and verification before posting (hence delayed). Using Google, you will not access the up to the second stream of consciousness on the internet.

So is there value in real-time search? To satisfy niche needs and specific interests yes. Value of information is based on its ability to support immediate actions or a course of actions into the future. If there is actionable content in an internet stream of consciousness, there is value to whoever can take that action. There is incremental value if the value of the action is higher based on the immediacy of the action, othewise the information will eventually become imbedded in news feeds and more static web sites. What niche needs and what segments of businesses should be paying attention to real-time search?

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