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 Microtechnology industry is hiring – positive developments of past years continue
09.04.2018 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

nachricht RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index with minor decline on a high overall level
20.03.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>