How Semantic Web Will Influence the Enterprise

How about a data Web that understands not only the meaning of data but also the relationships between them like humans do?  Something that ensures targeted and personalized content delivery to the user, delivering intelligent data in its true sense. A Web that anticipates and answers your questions even before you come up with them! Semantic Web or Web 3.0 does it all through use of hyper-structures leading to entities of hypertext.

Semantic Web and Enterprises

To remain competitive in the marketplace, enterprises need to effectively use information to make better decisions. Enterprises in general collect and analyze large amounts of ever changing information from multiple sources, available in multiple formats. However, for the enterprises, the need is for actionable information which can help them build competitive advantage. This is where Semantic Web technology comes into play for an organization. At its core, Semantic Web places importance on wise and proficient utilization of information. Semantic Web can not only help enterprises to quickly analyze and identify the right data, but also extract the meaning of the data. For example, Semantic Web technology can help a bank analyze its customer’s data (who uses the bank’s services across banking, credit card, stock trading, etc.), identify different meanings of the customer’s use of its services and get insights for its campaign management activities including cross-selling its services.

In the pre-social media days, enterprises could control the information flow as the sources of “incoming information” were few and manageable. However, with the proliferation of social media (known as the “Facebook” effect), the amount of information has multiplied manifold and enterprises do not have absolute control over the information. Also, enterprises subscribe to databases or data sources that gather information from different outlets such as newspapers, magazines, conferences, etc. All these sources of information cater to a global audience and appear in multiple languages, each with its own rules, idioms and context.

Semantic technology enables enterprises to make sense of this enormous amount of data by understanding the meaning of the content (words) in their proper context. The emerging HTML5 technologies, structured CSS and pages help in analyzing a page and provide a richer set of “tagging” that can be used by machines to analyze the page and its contents. This makes it easier and efficient in mining the information.

Thus, where the Semantic Web really shines for enterprises is not in just providing the meaning or context of the content but  really providing some actionable intelligence that an organization can use as a key differentiator vis-à-vis its competitors. It can help enterprises to remain competitive in a global market by harnessing the power of all forms of content generated by them via their users and using this collective information as competitive intelligence.

Challenges to achieving a “Semantic Web”:
Despite the promising future that Semantic Web technology holds, there are few challenges that this new found technology poses to its users:

  1. Deciphering the intended content and tone may be difficult when it comes to written words
  2. The technology is still nascent and thus does not hold enough supporting modules for it to survive the industry highs and lows
  3. ROI calculation is difficult and may not be available immediately
  4. Instead of using only technology as the “silver bullet’ solution, enterprises need to invest in both technology and process as Semantic Web is a combination of both

Enterprises will thus have to resort to investment in technology, processes, native-language speakers and refine technology and processes in order to identify relationships that would ultimately lead to higher revenue and competitive advantage. With increased benefits to enterprises in providing a single, unified view across applications, Semantic Web can ease development, maintenance and upgrades across the enterprises.

How else do you foresee Semantic Web technology influencing the businesses of tomorrow? What are the key drivers for the adoption of Semantic Web technology?