In launching Spend Matters Navigator earlier this week, we intentionally knew we were putting a work-in-progress into the market. This came with risk and opportunities. The biggest risk was driving our more technically inclined users into a bug tizzy. This happened with a handful of Spend Matters readers who said they'd rather wait to offer more specific feedback until we worked through the initial bugs. But the opportunity we had was to let the Spend Matters community make recommendations on how to improve the relational navigation tool-set as well as offer community policing on bugs. So far, I'd say the benefits of community aspects of launching early have more than outweighed the negatives. Since going live, I've personally gotten nearly a hundred constructive suggestions and emails from readers, colleagues and friends who've had a chance to beat up on the site. Not bad for just a few days!
A few readers questions why we'd put out such a new type of research tool without detailed instructions on how to use it. The answer is that our early users are creating their own use cases and approaches (and we're learning from them as they figure out their own best uses for the site). For example, some are using it as a media tracking tool. Others are using it as a "blog/trade press reader and search tool on steroids". But many more have begun to discover the subtleties and power of relational navigation by being able to pivot across content, search strings and data sets. For example, some people are doing free-text searches or using the pull-down bars on the left to search direct material categories and finding not only global suppliers through Thomas Global -- and soon to be other supplier lists as well -- but also blogs, articles and analyst reports of relevance on related content on commodity trends.
Personally, I've even started using Spend Matters Navigator as my way of prioritizing articles to read in The Journal and The FT by narrowing article searches based on terms of interest. And then I'm checking blogs and analyst reports to see what they have to say on the same topics (not to mention other publications). In these queries and drilldowns, I'm finding related content that I did not know existed -- and I could never have found from traditional searches -- but is directly related to what I was looking for. It's like reading a print newspaper and stumbling across articles you'd never find in an online version.
Now, the current Spend Matters Navigator data set is about as far from perfect as you can get. In my view, the biggest challenge for getting optimal returns is that our dataset is relatively tiny -- tens or hundreds of thousands of individual content sources is nothing -- but even at this early phase, it's providing me with useful returns most of the time. The good news is that as we continue to improve Navigator and get feedback -- not to mention letting the content index grow daily from the current feeds as well as adding new sources of information -- it will get even better. So, even if you're not finding the perfect query returns yet, stay with us. We're improving this thing everyday!