TECH TALK: The PubSubWeb: Information Marketplace

One of the applications of the PubSubWeb will be in enabling the creation of vertical information marketplaces. Let us take one example of how these marketplaces can make a potentially huge difference by seeing how an information marketplace for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would work.

One of the biggest challenges that SMEs face is growth. The larger enterprises can easily locate business partners given their resources. They can also be located by other enterprises small or large seeking to do business with them. What is very hard to do is for SMEs to locate other SMEs to do business with. This is where everything from classifieds to yellow page listings to search engine listings to spam is used.

SMEs do not have enough money to spend on marketing (or decide not to). Either way, the smaller marketing spend limits the awareness of the SMEs solutions in the marketplace. This results in lesser business, which in turn results in keeping the SME small. This is the marketing trap. Most SMEs are stuck in this and find it difficult to get out of this.

A big business can be reached by an SME (the knowledge is available of the big buyers) while a big business also has the resources and network to locate SMEs relevant for its business, though this is much harder. On the other hand, it is quite hard for SMEs to sell to other SMEs. The two have no way of connecting with each other. Technology has done very little to change the way SMEs trade with each other, especially in a local marketplace.

I speak from experience. I run a small messaging company (Netcore Solutions) which has about 200+ customers. It has taken us over 4 years to build this customer base. Over 90% of our customers are SMEs. We could easily handle many times our existing customer base if only we could find them! Finding these SMEs is tough we do direct marketing and work with channel partners, but they too are other SMEs we work with and we all end up facing the same problem. Whether it is a marketing failure or an information gap, most SMEs like us end up staying small.

Why need a separate page from the website? Because it is hard to update most websites! Even after nearly a decade of the Internet, the design elements which make up the website and permissions required make it difficult for an SME to update its website on its own. This is where an SME Information Marketplace based on the publish-subscribe ideas can make a difference.

Imagine if every SME can publish an RSS stream (via a weblog) about who they are, their products and services, the new developments at their organisation, their take on industry events, and what they are interested in purchasing. In addition, each of the SMEs should also set up subscriptions based on what they are looking to buy or sell (by keyword or category) or by a company they would like to track.

So, SMEs do what they would anyways do in search of new business opportunities. By making it easier for them to both publish information and subscribe to relevant information, the PubSubWeb works as a connector, an information market maker. The product in this marketplace is information; the currency is attention.


Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.