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Re: request for info on Semantic Web business applications

From: Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>
Date: Mon, 07 Mar 2005 09:34:59 -0500
Message-ID: <422C6693.3050701@acm.org>
To: semantic-web@w3.org

Hi all.  Thanks for the initial submissions on this topic.  Comments below:

David Provost wrote:
> Frank -
> 
> I think this request of yours has tremendous potential and could lead to
> some very interesting and productive discussions. 

Thanks.

Keeping your FOO, BAR and
> BAZ components in mind, here are some initial thoughts:
> 
> a. I'd like to begin with examples of reasonably familiar business
> applications, structured FOO, BAR, BAZ:
> 
> - ScanSoft makes Dragon NaturallySpeaking to convert speech to text.
> - Siebel makes Siebel Sales to help companies automate their sales forces.
> - Adobe makes Photoshop "...for graphic and Web design, photography, and
> video." [1]
> 

Actually, what I was really after in asking for Semantic Web business 
applications was not so much just the names of *application programs*, 
as in your example of "Seible Sales", but the descriptions of the 
applications or business uses of those programs, as in your example of 
"help companies automate their sales forces".  I was also after examples 
of actual instances of use (recall that FOO was meant to be a company or 
industry sector).  That being said, information about specific 
application programs is fine, but it would be more helpful if 
accompanied by information on the business uses (not so much what the 
programs specifically do as what business functions they help businesses 
do, as in your example), and who is actually using it.  That is, 
something like "Product X is used by Corporation Y to support Business 
Function Z".

> 
> b. I'm not sure there are many CTO's, CIO's, or other IT managers presently
> "...looking for Semantic Web business applications..." And I certainly don't
> think business managers are looking for SW applications. However, while I
> don't have ready examples I believe the history of IT adoption and
> implementation reflects business problems solved by technical applications
> and that the underlying technology is secondary (unless there's a need or
> desire to comply with specific standards).

I agree.  That's why I want to focus on the business functions being 
performed, rather than on the technology per se.

> 
> Would it be more helpful to define business problems or business situations
> that might benefit from SW solutions? I believe that problems and situations
> can represent needs, and from an economic (business) perspective, needs
> catalyze transactions (purchase decisions).

Discussion of these problems on the list would be useful, but what I'm 
specifically trying to compile right now is not so much business 
problems or situations that *might* benefit from SW solutions, but those 
that at least some people are *already* addressing using SW solutions. 
There's all sorts of argument possible about *potential* uses of SW 
technology (like why should I use SW technology instead of some other 
approach?).  An *actual* use, on the other hand, is a more solid data 
point.  I'm somewhat concerned about scope-creep here.

> 
> Defining problems and situations might also serve another fundamental
> purpose: In my experience, business managers are often unaware of how
> technology can benefit them. Usually, someone with technical knowledge
> describes how a business problem can be solved and if the case seems
> compelling enough a process of experimentation and hopefully, adoption,
> begins. Being able to state clearly and concisely what business problems SW
> technology can address might be very helpful in enhancing the ability to
> recognize commercial opportunities and effectively communicate the role SW
> technology can play.

I agree.  At the same time, I think a business manager would be even 
more impressed with information about existing software, hopefully 
software actually in use in some business.  That's not to say that 
developing clear descriptions of the business problems SW technology can 
address isn't a useful activity on this list.  It's just not what I 
specifically am trying to do right now.

--Frank
Received on Monday, 7 March 2005 16:28:26 UTC

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