Thursday, July 21, 2005
I bought a Business 2.0 earlier this week and read an article about Xerox and how Anne Mulcahy has pretty much turned things around.
What was very interesting to me was that the famous Xerox PARC research lab is now accessible to non-competitive companies world wide. Basically you can buy research. Not just the report from Gartner, Forrester, FT and so on, but real practical research.
Now, i have the domain name ventureiq.com and for a while been wondering just what to do with it. I wonder whether we could pull together some top quality folks and run a virtual research lab. Not just tech, but other areas too. A practical research lab built out of a network of expert individuals that may have day jobs, but are excited by the thought of research and can even get some return for their time.
The point wouldn't be that we would do the research ourselves, but rather our network would allow small, medium and even larger enterprises to get access to expert researchers who could perform lab type research for them.
What's even cooler is that we could even link into companies with available space and people who may wish to fill in their time by doing some background research for a company. Everybody wins.
Here's what i've got so far. Send me a mail to connect AT stevenR2.com if this sounds interesting.
VentureIQ connects small to medium-sized business and larger enterprises with experts who can perform high quality online as well as practical research on your behalf at low cost. Think of us as a step between the universities doing the longer term theoretical research and your real world business ventures. We can help you develop and prove the concept of your venture before significant investment in time or money.
Through our network of research experts, we offer solutions such as:
- Initial online and offline research into specific topics, locations, products and so on
- Prototype development to test theories and ideas
- Qualified expert opinion and ideas on your venture
- Links into networks of individuals who may be able to help
We do research such as:
- Will my software idea really work?
- How could we use Xml and Web Services?
- Is there a better search algorithm we could use on out site?
- Is there a market for your product in Chile?
- What kind of music works best with your film?
- What could be the total cost of patenting my idea?
- Could my business be extended into a new area
Xerox have the Palo Alto Research Centre, IBM have Almedan, Microsoft have Microsoft Research, Google have Google Labs. Such research facilities are great when you have them, however often the cost and/or recruitment of individuals may not be right for your business.
When we say research we don't just offer services of experienced researchers who can find and collate information from the web for you or find research and reports you may find useful. We go beyond this and also offer practical solutions, such as software research where actual prototypes are built, algorithmic research where you can see the measured results, market research where you get the output of the surveys.
At VentureIQ we put you in touch with vetted researchers who can perform research tasks on an individual or on-going basis. You can have your own research labs.
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The site's pretty cool and you can check out some highlights of the game.
Now i'm intruiged. I'm a big football fan (soccer) so i'd love to hear more about what it's like in the US. Seems to be coming on now ...
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You see the positive thing (in this case) is that it is a government body. They don't make money opening the system via web services, but it helps third parties integrate and use their services. I suddenly started to see not only the open services that could be made available, but the data resuse that makes no sense to be duplicated everywhere.
We have NI numbers, company addresses, people addresses, qualifications and so on that are really just sematic data on top of the core functions of the system (they are each managed by a separate larger body), which is really about payments. So i think - why do we store and manage all of this stuff. I can say that most of the effort is around managing stuff they only need to know about and shouldn't really have to maintain. A company registration number can be used to tell us everything we need to know about a company, so why manage and store the entire company details. This extends to the other attributes. Opening the services would be great, but there is a snag.
You see they all want to open their systems, but charge to get to the data. Not only that, but the drive of services will see others use your service within their services - this is exactly a case we have just now. We provide an address lookup facility which is managed by a third party. However, the data itself is owned by the post office and the third party license that from them! So if we serve this data out of our own service then although the software people may be happy to open the API, the Post Office aren't going to be happy their data is floating around the web with a single license paying for it!!
The net result is duplication. And this extends to the other attributes and no doubt around the web there are many cases of this. So you get to a point where services can only DO things and the things you get become hazy. Or rather, what you can DO with what you get back is hazy - "Yep, I found 6 matches which may be the address they are looking for based on their query, but the license tells me i can't send it back to them."
In the enteprise I don't see an easy way out of this short term. However, if profiles were available direclty from the source (e.g. the person, the company and so on - ignore verification of that for just now), then maybe certain links in the chain could be ignored and we would be in a position where Open Data could be a reality.
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