2 page Case Study - Posted 7/9/2012
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Marketing Firm Uses Search Technology to Deliver Cyber Intelligence to Customers
Human Equation develops digital marketing solutions based on innovative technologies. The firm used the Bing Search API to provide sophisticated search capabilities for Echo Alpha, its cyber investigation platform that helps customers solve business
issues by leveraging the vast quantities of data that are available online. By using the Bing Search API, the firm has created an affordable way to bring its customers a competitive advantage.
Technology can be a competitive differentiator for companies who use it well. Human Equation, a Canadian “techno-marketing” firm, helps its customers develop strategies, platforms, and processes to establish a cohesive digital marketing presence for
In 2011, Human Equation decided to tackle a common challenge among its customers: how to use the vast quantities of online data to solve business problems, whether the issues are in sales, operations, recruitment, or another business area. Human Equation
found a unique solution by using a methodology gleaned from criminological investigations, where trace evidence is studied to infer the likely cause of an event. “We wanted to use all the trace evidence on the Internet to investigate and determine the specific
set of people, companies, and groups that a customer needed to identify to address its particular business issue,” explains Andréa Doyon, Founder of Human Equation. “For example, if a customer wanted to know which companies would make good sales prospects,
we would carry out strategic searches to discover telltale facts, such as which companies were hiring, which appeared on lists of tradeshows, and other signs of growth and stability.”
Customers could do those types of searches manually, of course, but that would be time-consuming, and results might change by the time they finished the search. Human Equation sought to automate the process, making targeted results available quickly and
at a low cost. To do so, the firm needed both a search engine and a computing solution that could handle the specificity and scale necessary to meet its needs. “We also wanted control over our search methods, which required a sophisticated engine that was
geared toward business use,” says Doyon.
Human Equation established a proprietary methodology—called “Digital DNA”—for conducting its searches, which involved detecting a range of evidence and using it to compile partial or full matches toward of specific individuals and organizations. After
experimenting with Amazon technologies and Google API, the firm switched to the Bing Search API to enhance Echo Alpha, its new cyber investigation platform. The Bing Search API helps developers embed the Digital DNA methodology and provide results to the Echo
Alpha platform. The company also opted to move to Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. “We started out using the Amazon cloud service, but scalability was a challenge,” says Doyon. “Once we began working
with the Microsoft technologies, we realized that, by combining open data, the Bing Search API, and Windows Azure, we could conduct complex cyber investigations using real-time data at a comparatively low cost by today’s standard.”
||We combined Bing Search API with Windows Azure to harness available data in real time and provide targeted critical decision information to our customers.
|| Andréa Doyon
Founder, Human Equation
The firm started using the Bing Search API from the Windows Azure Marketplace and immediately integrated it into Echo Alpha. Human Equation opted to use Windows Azure worker roles to scale its platform and carry out millions of searches for certain facts or
were amazed at the Bing team’s enthusiastic support of our business.”
Human Equation estimates that, for the 15 million cyber investigations that it conducted in 2011, approximately 75 percent of the data it used to compile results was contributed by the Bing Search API. “By using the Bing Search API, we can narrow our investigations
at the outset and find the best websites to use to concentrate our searches on what matters most to our customers,” says Doyon.
For example, when Tourisme Montréal launched an initiative to reach out to the local academic, research, and scientific communities, it asked Human Equation for help. It wanted to refine its method of identifying and reaching out to potential local “influencers”
to champion the project, so Human Equation worked to define the digital DNA of such an individual. Echo Alpha tracked down markers in specific sectors and delivered qualified leads for Tourisme Montréal, saving thousands of hours over traditional methods.
“Echo Alpha has been instrumental to the success of our new approach in bringing more international events to our city,” says Lynda Cadieux, Director at Tourisme Montréal. “We achieved our goals without expanding our research team.”
- Human Equation is changing the way that its customers do business. “By taking advantage of the Bing Search API, we can affordably harvest all the intelligence that the web has to offer, in real time, from a corporate point of view,” says Doyon. “Without
it, we simply would not be able to provide this level of service to our customers. In fact, conducting investigations using Microsoft technologies took significantly less time and cost less than with Amazon.” Benefits include:
Easy integration. The firm encountered no issues in incorporating and using the Bing Search API. “It took just a day to integrate the API—it was straightforward, seamless, and transparent,” says Doyon. “And we found that Bing is really well-suited
to support developers and not just aimed at consumer-based search.”
Increased flexibility. By using the Bing Search API, the firm can receive many different types of results and build comprehensive footprints based on news, images, videos, and web content. Human Equation also has found the API flexible in
other ways. “Other APIs do not allow for the sort of flexibility and exploration that the Bing Search API affords us,” says Doyon. “The Bing Search API provides structured data and offers different parameters for filtering and refining that data, so that our
developers can make business intelligence available to our customers.”
Speed and scalability. Human Equation can rely on Microsoft technologies to provide it with the scalability and performance levels that it needs. “Using the Bing Search API in conjunction with Windows Azure means that we have nearly unlimited
scalability,” says Doyon. “We can mine the web at a rate of 200,000 cyber investigations per hour, which results in fast service to our customers.”
Ability to add value for customers. The firm is using the Bing Search API to deliver a competitive advantage to its customers. “Our customers can differentiate themselves and gain significant market share because they can use what they learn
through Echo Alpha to move much more quickly than their competitors,” says Doyon. “We combined Bing Search API with Windows Azure to harness available data in real time and provide targeted critical decision information to our customers.”
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