Intelligent Agents on the Internet

This article was written in 2004, and a few thing might turn out outdated today. However, it has strong links to the Viral Marketing campaigns that we are offering here and in Ideotic.com. We have developed a couple of Intelligent Agents since then.

What are the intelligent agents?

 They are independent or Web based software, which allow accomplishing automated searches.

Brief Intro

Trying to predict any significant Internet tendency for the next 2 or 3 years, I started thinking about any quantitative changes that are beginning to generate qualitative changes:

– the users’ increase, growing rapidly in Latin America despite the adverse factors, generate “critical mass” for a number of businesses addressed to final clients (Consumer to consumer, business to consumer)

– some cyber-businesses that failed at a certain time can reappear with more strength.

– the increase of contents on the Internet requires special tools for processing and analysing the information.  The content analyzer, the search engines and intelligent agents of information search.

– the large and medium companies are mostly already in the Net

– they are beginning to require 2nd level services, like the monitoring of visits, site promotion, usability analysis, monitoring and security, etc.

Many job sites have Intelligent Agents, and they notify the users about the availability of new jobs provided that they publish his profile. But this does not exhaust its possibilities: there are companies that commit agents to supervise when and how they appear in other sites, others that wish to know instantly the publication of commercial opportunities, and some others that commit agents to go over their competitor’s websites, etc.

If a modest company has a security guard employee, a personnel one, a bank proceedings one… ¿Why note having an employee to seek for useful information on the Internet from a technical, commercial or financial point of view? And if that employee is even replaceable by a “robot”.

Examples

Let’s give an example. Our little organisation at this moment is developing software to generate optimized pages for search engines. We want to use it in order to increase the visits to our sites and to client sites, as well as selling the generator software to interested webmasters. The challenge here consisted in the fact-finding phase, when we tried to discover the best parameters for the generated pages, as regards Google’s capability to position them in a privileged way.

But the manual search is very exhausting. It is necessary to look for several sets of keywords in Google, the first 10 pages and the ones located in the ranks 100-110. Then downloading the complete sites to the hard disk, and analysing comparatively some relevant factors: Keyword’s density, extension of page, details of format, internal-external links, Page Rank, etc.

That is why we seek to develop an “agent”, to perform that task for us periodically, in order to be up to date with the changes in the internal logic of the search engine. Moreover, it will be easy to gradually incorporate new objectives, always related to the structure of the differently ranked sites.

Going back to the agents in general, I imagine that many companies accomplish repetitive and boring tasks in the Net: recollection of data for marketing studies, reading of virtual newspapers, recollection of emails of potential clients, etc. For them not only the costs of the agent’s initial development, but also the cost of constantly updating and improvement is justified.

This need of agents’ development arises from the lack of standards for the publication of standard information. Some standards are arising and many large companies are trying to impose them but the decentralised, dynamic and rebel nature of the Net conspires against the attempts to unify the market. For example, Google launched www.Froogle.com, a database of products for sale in the net with a standard interface in order that tradesman can update his goods and pricing. And he also bought Blogger, a popular format to publish a ”personal newspaper”. In turn, Yahoo is making a strong move in order to capture the real estate market and the news adders like www.Newsisfree.com (my favourite customised virtual newspaper) can capture “news feeds” of thousands of varied sources, based on a standard format to export news. My personal newspaper about Net business, www.netocios.com, highly increased its visits when it was included as an option in the mentioned adder of configurable news. And that was possible due to the utilisation of a standard format, the Php nuke, which allows the exporting of news titles as a link directed to the body of them.

Regrettably, the most profitable tendencies are detected by watching what the big guys do. At that point they stop being tendencies to become consummated facts. For the smalls, all we can do is to wait for a crumb falling from their mouth, a lucky strike or a bright idea, of those that happen once in a blue moon. But, definitely, when it happens don’t let them go….
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