Can semantic web technology help make business interactions among buyers and suppliers – around the corner or around the world – more transparent and lead to better communications, even across language barriers? A new project coming out of Poland hopes to make that case. Dubbed the Momoway Business Searcher, available as a beta service here, has as its goal providing a one-stop shop for business and trade, by easing communication and B2B contacts between manufacturers and buyers. Thought up by Momoway lead software developer Karol Balejko and co-financed by European Union funds, the site gathers business information – data about products, services, and trade fairs – into one spot, from which buyers can search for what they need from thousands of suppliers across the world.
There are other online trade platforms out there, of course, but as Balejko says in an email exchange with the Semantic Web Blog, they present some obstacles because of narrow parameters or language restrictions. For starters, “most trade platforms today have products listed according to preset categories instead of letting suppliers themselves choose exactly which words they want to use to describe their products,” explains Balejko, who also is a software architect, Java expert and Grails developer. “Suppliers listing their categories on Momoway are not only able to add words if needed, they can also use as many tags as they want to describe their products. This does not necessarily lead to lower costs, but it certainly simplifies the ordering process for purchasing departments because they are able to find exactly what they need – quickly and efficiently.” People listing their products are not limited by the short-comings of having to place their products into categories that aren’t “quite right,” he says – that practice leads to their product possibly not getting a fair description, and so becoming harder to find by potential buyers out there.
One of the problems with non-semantic search engines is that they do not register, index or link the semantics in phrases. There are too many combinations – millions – so that’s why they’re often just lumped into categories instead of analyzing words that go together – or, for example, synonyms,” he says. As an example, semantic searches should recognize that ‘friendly, favorable, and well-disposed’ should be placed in the same search results, because the adjective has the same meaning.