Sunday, November 25, 2007

FT: The search wars are over, Google has won

In it's last Tech Blog (subscription required) Financial Times declares the search wars over, at least for now. Google has won. "Despite everything Microsoft and Yahoo! have been able to throw at it, Google's share of the search business has just kept going up, to the point where it finally seems time to declare this contest done".

The newspaper points to the latest figures from ComScore as proof. Already dominant in Europe, Google's share of US searches reached 58.5 per cent in October. That is up from only around 35 per cent in November 2004 - the month when Microsoft formally took the gloves off with the launch of its own search engine. In almost every month since, Google has bitten off a little more of the business.

On our own web site the Google share is even more impressive. 37 per cent of our traffic comes from search engines, and Google is the point of entry for nine out of ten visitors coming into our sites through search.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Canine nutrition" or "dog food"?

Tag cloud from

Here's another useful presentation re tagging from Berlin, called "Tagging that works", also available on

Tagging, as you know, is about letting users attach their own keywords to web pages or objects on a web site (pictures, videos, bookmarks...) that are then made available to other users, normally to improve search.

Folksonomy is a word often used to describe this. When "folks" tag your content they are likely to use colloquial terms closer to what other users would look for. If you have an excellent web site about "canine nutrition" chances are slim that users will find it, as most of them will they search for "dog food". That is, unless you let your users tag it with "dog food" so others can find it as well.

We have the same issue on the ABB web site. Our excellent flow meters are called "flow measurement products", a term that I suspect no sane person would use trying to find them. Likewise, the relevant business unit insists on using terms like turbocharging as opposed to turbochargers, and robotics rather than robots...

However, letting users tag content is not straightforward in our case, not least because we have 28 languages on the web site and suspect that tags must be connected to the correct language version to be effective. It would be interesting to hear from you if anyone has found a good solution to this?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another nugget from Berlin:
Designing tag navigation

Click here to dowload the program for Web 2.0 Expo in BerlinThe web 2.0 Expo in Berlin recently clearly showed that Europe is lagging behind the US in this area. Certainly not all presentations met my expectations, but I would still say the nuggets I found among all the gravel made the visit worthwhile.

One presentation I would recommend in addition to Cal Henderson's below is "Designing tag navigation" by James Kalbach. He has a degree in library science and is currently a Human Factors Engineer with LexisNexis. He has previously served as head of information architecture with Razorfish Germany. There is nothing revolutionary in the presentation, but it gives a very good overview of the pro and cons of different approaches to tag navigation.

You can find more presentations from the conference on

Improvements to Doodle

I have previously introduced you to Doodle, a nifty little web site you can use to find the best meeting time for a group of people. You go there, list the options, then receive a unique link that you can send around to participants, who can then check off which options fit their schedule. As soon as someone adds his preferences, you receive a mail in your inbox, and one glance on the page shows you the best option.

The site has recently launched a new version which is now available in 13 languages, including Hungarian, Ukrainian and Rumantsch... They have also added a feature letting users select one or more among several options, like a list of venues or preferred topics. Very helpful and saving a lot of time when more than two people are trying to agree on something.

Geeky stuff: Optimizing web site operations and performance

Building Scalable Web SitesTo optimize performance of a web site with a complex application structure, several servers and a world wide user base is quite a challenge. Every site is unique in its set-up so learnings from others have limited value. But there is always something to learn.

Attending O'Reilly media's Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin recently, I had the pleasure of listening to Cal Henderson, who is responsible for operations at, the extremely popular photo sharing site. From his presentation "Scalable Web Architectures; Common Patterns & Approaches", I took away quite a few good ideas on how we could improve performance both for as well as our intranet. Improving performance is not only a question of server set-up, tuning and distribution, but also how the application itself stores and accesses data.

If his 145 slides are not enough, I'd recommend his book "Building Scalable Web Sites". Still want to know more? If so, you should enlist for O'Reilly media's planned Velocity conference in San Fransisco June 23-24 next year, which they claim is a first of its kind. In addition to Cal Henderson, and other global web sites will be presenting.

UPDATE: Cal Henderson is in fact lead developer on Flickr, not responsible for operations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazon launches new e-reader named after ABB CEO?

I don't normally cover new technical gadgets here on this blog, but I simply have to make an exception as Amazon have launched their new e-reader named "Kindle". Asked whether it is named after our CEO Fred Kindle, ABB press spokeman Wolfram Eberhardt says: "We never comment on market rumours..."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Join the ABB network on facebook

The ABB network on Facebook is now up and running. Last time I checked it was not set up yet, but this morning it already had 264 members - myself included. Not a whole lot! Siemens has 5044, so there is some catching up to do...

Friday, November 16, 2007

A wiki about wikis and all things Enterprise 2.0

My colleague Piera sent me a link to an interesting wiki - a collection of case studies from different companies outlining their experiences in implementing web 2.0 technology in their enterprises. "What a cool idea", she said, and I agree.

Andrew McAfee, who is associate professor at Harvard Business School, explains in his blog the background for the initiative :

"In my morning keynote at the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference I proposed the creation of a repository of enterprise 2.0 case studies that would itself adhere to E2.0 best practices -- it would be freely editable and extensible, and have an emergent rather than an imposed structure. I heard expressions of interest in the idea throughout the rest of the day, and when I sat down to dinner with my friends from the enterprise wiki company Socialtext they volunteered their software and told me they'd already grabbed a great domain name -- (disclosure: Socialtext lets me use their software for free, but I have no financial interest in the company and have done no paid work for it.)."

"So now we need to populate this site with all things enterprise 2.0, and we need some help getting started. will be publicly available soon, but it's not yet. When we open it up, we'd like to have some compelling initial content. We need a first set of case studies that will perform the same functions as the first few dollar bills in a tip jar: encouraging others to contribute, and showing them how."

This was some months ago, in the mean time some interesting cases have been added and the wiki opened to the public. Here is a link to the wiki:

ABB improves score in H&H web ranking

Financial Times covered the Hallvarsson & Halvarsson (H&H) web ranking this week, surveying the top 158 European companies. While ABB was not mentioned in the FT article, the background material shows that our score has improved to 69,25 (out of 100), against a score of 63,5 for 2006. As a result of this now ranks as 23 on the list of top European companies, against rank 42 in 2006.

The H&H web ranking primarily focuses on the needs of investors, using a check list approach. The ranking was previously given significant prominence by FT and major European newspapers, but has received less attention the last couple of years. It could be related to the fact that many of the top companies in their ranking are customers of the same web agency that do the ranking...

H&H has previously published a ranking for Swedish web sites, were ABB's site improved its ranking from 42 last year to 13 in 2007 as a result of the improved score.

I expect H&H to publish a similar ranking for Switzerland later this year. Based on the results of the European ranking it appears that we will not improve our 2006 rank as number 5, as other Swiss companies have improved their score as well.