Thursday, February 19, 2009

Russian Innovations in Business Intelligence

Recently in a new sector of business intelligence there has been an unusual example of the state and business understanding, moreover, actual fulfillment of the state priorities at the private professional level.

Less than half a year ago Dmitry Medvedev, the First Vice-Premier at that time, defined four “I”-priorities to be concentrated on during next few years: institutions, infrastructure, innovations, and investments.

At the first sight it is hard to connect these priorities with a new sector of competitive intelligence. But they appeared to be closely related.

During several years one of the well-known Russian competitive intelligence experts Evgeniy Yuschuk has been reporting on the problem of professional internet usage for valuable information search. He is regularly giving problem-oriented workshops. Being a member of SCIP, he is constantly interchanging his experience with foreign colleagues. He alone, and in cooperation with other authors, has published a number of books in Russia.

One of his boos is titled "Internet Intelligence Manual" and is a kind of reference book on this topic. Author’s great experience and knowledge of the existing tools at that time let him describe real professional problem in detail. That was the question to think over for a person involved into business intelligence.

As it was expected, it appeared to be impossible to gather information about this professional. Intelligence agents do not always intend to be recognized. He is known to be registered at the Business intelligence forum online as “MOS.”

Closely monitoring online-search discussions he addressed a soft developer with questions compiled as a task to design absolutely new and specific functions on the basis of the developer’s program. “MOS” chose to be a tester. Actually, MOS found solutions for problems described by Yuschuk in his books and suggested a highly efficient developer to take part in their solving.

Alexey Mylnikov agreed to be a designer of the program with non-standard and non-existing functions. Being a student of Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, a designer in Soviet military defense bureaus and having a great creating desire Alexey started working on the project at once. Already in a month SiteSputnik had its first unique functions for information online search.

In other words, Mylnikov “taught” his program to search a number of objects in several languages simultaneously getting the most precise and full result as well as to find connections between the objects. That is, the program searches for a needle in a haystack without demanding constant presence of the user.

Every new version of the SiteSputnik is tested by “MOS” and assessed by Evgeniy Yuschuk who checks Mylnikov’s creation in his work. Thus, the product goes through the whole chain of procedures: from ideas to fulfillment and usage in work. That makes an innovation different from an invention.

Today the program is being discussed by many other professionals in business intelligence on several other professional forums. One professional group is taking part in working out product’s characteristics. Very often new ideas appear while discussing the product.

That is why their implementation finds customers at once and they are tried in real life with real tasks. Actually, the innovation product is being designed in an innovational way.

The notable part is that together with all new strategic priorities, professional traditions are also observed. In fact, design of absolutely new product is developed according to the classical principles of cooperation between intelligent agents and developers. According to them, agents give orders to scientists and laboratories to develop absolutely new products meeting their specific needs. The only difference is that state intelligent services make such products secret in comparison to business intelligence which does not.

Alexey Mylnikov, the developer:

Who and what purposes did you design SiteSputnik for? What reasons did you have?

The aim of the program design was to create a robot to shift rough information search online. What kind of user? As we see, among users there are market managers, teachers, managers, directors and of course, intelligent agents.

As for the reasons, for me it is very interesting. Developing process is closely related to users; very often new ideas appear while communicating online.

How useful was the experience of working together with intelligent agents?

Our cooperation influenced greatly the program development itself.

Great quantity of information they work with, high requirements for its accuracy and comprehensiveness demanded new qualities of the program.

Due to this cooperation SiteSputnik got a lot of useful, unique, and needed functions.

What are the difficulties in the program development and its prospects?

Despite the fact that only a part of numerous tasks has been fulfilled, I am satisfied with my performance and users are satisfied with the result. The financing problem is solved by selling the program itself. In the nearest future I plan to improve information search, analysis and monitoring tools.

“MOS”, the professional

What is the practical value of the program, its efficiency in your work?

Value is an economic notion, efficiency is a managerial one.

$ 30-100, which you spend once, are paid back very quickly.

The program saves time reducing duration of work in search-engines. It can fulfill several computer operators’ work because necessity for human presence is minimal.

The program makes work arrangements easier, it can fulfill tasks during non-working hours and results are presented by a report that does not really need editing.

Is it necessary to have special knowledge or skills to use the program?

It is not necessary. The program let a person not acquainted with search-engines peculiarities do almost professional search in Internet. However, if you have some special knowledge you can get the best, nearly the ideal results.

How often do you refer to developers and other professionals with specific orders?

Often, but we got the real result of cooperation with a developer for the first time.

Evgeniy Yuschuk, the expert:

Can you confirm that this program has unique functions not present anywhere else?

I do not know any counterparts, at least at such a low price. Besides, during usual search you have to wait for every site with results to open while SitSputnik let a professional do other things and return to the computer when the program downloads all necessary information. It saves the result into the build-in data base available for later research.

Is it fair to refer to cooperation of competitive intelligence agents and a developer as a special case of innovational activity in business intelligence?

I think so. The program has been created together with competitive intelligence agents from the very beginning. Everyone added something. For example, the universal language of requests making search online easier was built in the program by Alexey Mylnikov after he, me and some more members of the Business Intelligence Agents’ Forum had gathered in real life and drawn schemes of required SiteSputnik work.

Would you like to change anything in the program or add other functions?

Actually, we are constantly suggesting something. Alexey can start developing something at once, the rest he postpones. I can say definitely that professional community is working with the program testing it and giving tasks. I suppose, this is the reason of the program success.

It is evident that the innovation product can be used not only by business intelligence agents but other professionals using information from open resources without special training at that. It means that any community which work is based on Internet information can become a participant of creating a program meeting their needs.

No wonder, Evgeniy Yuschuk is going to introduce the new product to participants of the 2008 European Competitive Intelligence Summit, held 20-22 October, in Rome, Italy.

It is true that Russian professionals have a lot to be proud of.


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