Shared data services – examples from Thomson Reuters and Salesforce

By January 15, 2009 7 Comments

Last week I wrote that shared data services might be the next frontier for innovation.  That post was largely inspired by Paul Miller and I met him for a coffee last night to explore these ideas further.

This post is an attempt to make the abstract concept of share data services a little more real.  It draws on the conversation I had with Paul last night and some stuff I have been reading this morning.  I have two things to say.

Firstly an elaboration on the nature of shared data services – they are apps/services built on top of large bodies of existing data – news, facts etc..  For a startup to play in this space that probably means built on top of a large publicly available data set (e.g. from Twitter, or the CIA factbook, or I guess Wikipedia).

And secondly some examples of live shared data services:

  1. Salesforce yesterday released a customer service application based on shared data – it is called Service Cloud.  It seeks to capture ‘crowdsourced pools of [tech support] knowledge’ from around the web and make them readily usable by commercial customer service teams.  Service Cloud includes plugins to online forums, Facebook, Google, Amazon etc. and also offers access to  proprietary data resources like the corporate intranet, IM and email history.  They then make it easy to share portions of the knowledge base with partners – presumably for mutual enhancement. Screenshot below.

  2. Paul blogged yesterday about the Thomson Reuters Calais service which makes content shareable, intelligent and machine readable by the application of structured metadata.  The service is intended to be a building block for other shared data services.  Their example application is SemanticProxy which is really only another building block.  SemanticProxy translates the content of any URL into its machine readable semantic representation in RDF, Microformats or HTML.

Hopefully this makes an abstract topic a little more real.  It has certainly helped me.

Update Steve Gilmor talks more about Service Cloud here.  I particularly like the way he calls it a ‘Sams Club for data’ and the way he ties it back to Cluetrain – a link I hadn’t thought of.