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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New partnership with LevelsBeyond

Taxonomies have undeniable value in helping to organize unstructured information and in enabling more sophisticated search experiences - attribute drill down, results filtering, related searches, synonym searches, and more. However, a big challenge that people often encounter with taxonomies is the question of how to best make use of this information. Basically, once there is a taxonomy, how can business benefits be realized.

The answer lies in the software into which the taxonomy is installed. I've already mentioned that WAND has created Datafacet for implementing and managing taxonomies in Sharepoint 2010, Oracle SES, Oracle UCM, and other enteprise search environments. Now, I'd like to introduce our new partnership with LevelsBeyond, a company that is also based in Denver.

LevelsBeyond has created a technology called Reach Engine which essentially is a middleware bus that can consolidate content from any number of disparate sources, including legacy systems, and bring all the content together into a single normalized environment where it can be tagged, edited, and managed in preparation for consumption by a custom UI, front end, or an external search environment. WAND's taxonomies import directly into ReachEngine where they can be managed and used to tag content.

Here is just one example use case for the retail space. Imagine a general retailer who has a broad catalog of SKUs and had different bits of product data in inventory systems, customer service systems, CRMs, third party print systems, and an existing ecommerce content management system. There is no way to synch all of this data together - changes in one system don't synch with any of the other systems. Adding new products is cumbersome and time consuming. Further, the product catalog is poorly organized. Enter WAND and LevelsBeyond.

The LevelsBeyond reach engine can be deployed to integrate all 5 disparate systems mentioned above to bring all the data into a single interface where it can be centrally managed. Instantly, there is a complete view of the data. And, if the data is changed in ReachEngine, that change will simultaneously publish back to the legacy systems. Categories and attributes from the WAND Product and Service Taxonomy can be loaded into reach engine where teh product data can be tagged to a deep category tree and to relevant product attributes. In the case of Laptop Computers, this could be things like brand, processor speed, hard disk size, screen size, # of USB ports, etc.

The retailer will have transitioned from having poorly organized product data spread across its IT environment to a single location for all of its well tagged product data assets. All of this data can then be easily queried by external systems (like an online store) through the Reach Engine web services and/or using the content library available for a number of programming languages.

This is very powerful stuff. Retailers deploying LevelsBeyond have seen rapid payback periods and first year ROI of well over 100%. By combining this technology with the deep taxonomies from WAND, retailers can see this same type of ROI much more quickly - there will be no need to spend several months creating a taxonomy from scratch.

If you are a retailer struggling to get a handle on your product assets, please let me know. I'd be happy to set up some time to discuss how the WAND Taxonomy combined with LevelsBeyond's Reach Engine can help you do business more efficiently.