Could Rearden Commerce One-Up Google?

Posted by: Steve Hamm on June 05, 2009

One of my colleagues, Doug McMillan, is collecting a list of broad-purpose search engines for a slideshow he’s working on. It’s amazing how long the list is: 22. It’s also a reminder that while Google currently dominates the search world, there are a lot of other contestants, and, someday, somebody will likely come along with something better.

In fact, for some purposes, that “someday” may already be here. In connection with the package I just published on cloud-plus-mobile computing, I’ve been talking to Patrick Grady, CEO of Rearden Commerce, about the future of virtual personal assistants. Rearden has a service that it offers through travel and financial services companies that helps subscribers arrange travel, manage T&E expenses, purchase office supplies, and ship packages. The system keeps a profile of you and learns even more about you by tracking what you do. In a sense, it knows you—and that’s where it figures in the search sphere.

What’s the most obvious way you could get better results from a search query? Answer: If the software knows who you are and what you’re interest in. “Today’s search models are as evolved as they can get, but Google and Microsoft search don’t know you. They don’t know anything about you. So what we’re doing it the logical evolution.” Eventually, Grady believes, Google and Microsoft and the other pretenders to the Search King throne will either have to buy this capability or build it. He points out that it will be expensive for them either way—since it has taken Rearden Commerce 10 years to develop its capabilities.

So, what do you think? Is “knowing you” going to be the key to the next generation of search?

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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