Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virtual consultancy to foster business innovation

10.11.2008
An advanced semantics-based software platform is helping companies in the east of Europe develop the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to innovate.

“Innovate or die” has become the mantra of today’s fast-moving business world. However, the potential for innovation is underexploited in central and eastern Europe, particularly among small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Many smaller firms in this part of Europe lack access to the necessary resources and knowledge to improve their business processes. Entrepreneurs are often heavily involved in day-to-day operations, giving them less time to dedicate to developing new skills, boosting efficiency or researching new products and ideas. Moreover, paying a consultant to do that for them is usually prohibitively expensive.

But what if that consultant is a free or low-cost software platform that can provide effective solutions by drawing on best-practice cases and international business expertise? The result, argue researchers behind the EU-funded PIM project, would be to give wings to innovation among SMEs.

“Our semantics-based knowledge management platform is a kind of virtual consultancy,” says Daniela Guarnieri, a researcher at Milan Technical University and the PIM project manager. “It gives SMEs the chance to research their ideas, find solutions to problems and locate experts who can help them without spending too much time, effort or money.”

The PIM platform, which has been tested by more than a hundred SMEs in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia, uses semantic information to make business cases, innovation studies and best-practice reports accessible regardless of language or format. Ontologies – conceptual vocabularies that give semantic information a standard meaning – were developed from scratch by the PIM team.

“By using semantics, searches return results that are more meaningful to the person doing the searching, and it also allows us to cross language and technological barriers,” Guarnieri says. “The technology itself is well known, the real innovation is in the services we have developed and how we are using them,” she adds.

Users can search for information, uploaded to the PIM platform by other companies, business schools and universities, to find solutions to problems and research new ideas. They can also use the platform to find other users and companies with expertise in a certain field and go on to establish virtual communities for collaboration.

Real benefits for real companies

For example, an online electronics retailer, CI Zeto from Poland, used the PIM system to find information and participate in virtual workshops on how to implement internet-based customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

Another trial participant, Romanian advertising firm Avantgarde Production, used the PIM system to find studies and best practice reports that would help it improve its quality management process. It was also able to get in touch with a local expert in the field.

“The trials resulted in several success stories and scenarios in which users were able to obtain real benefits from the PIM platform,” Guarnieri says.

One of the key tools to help businesses make use of the PIM system is a semantic search engine that does considerably more than simply find content and contact details based on keywords.

If someone needed to find an expert in customer relations, searching for that term would not just return a list of everyone using the PIM system with customer relations experience. Instead, as Guarnieri explains, it would ‘discover’ those whose profiles, interests, experience and location closely match the person or organisation initiating the search.

A technology firm looking for help in dealing with clients would therefore be matched with customer relations experts whose profile shows experience in the technology sector above those with experience in manufacturing, for example.

For the trials, SMEs were enlisted through the certification authorities of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia who were partners in the project. Guarnieri expects a similar model to be used as the PIM team try to expand the platform to western European countries.

She envisages the platform being maintained through a combination of advertising by sponsors and through a credit system in which companies could purchase credits to be able to use the system and also earn credits by helping others and uploading information.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90248

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>