The internet is an amazing thing -- a great place to do research, conduct business, play
games, keep in touch with friends and relatives, and shop, just to name a few. On this page,
we present articles and news squibs about the internet, this most fascinating virtual universe!
Reprinted from fall 2001 issue of SSS online, and updated February 2005
How Does That Work? -- An Internet Tip
by Jim Pearce, President of Pegasus Technologies, Inc.
The other day I was peeling one of those antishoplifting things off a recent
purchase and I realized that I had not the foggiest
clue how it worked. Here is a device that is made
by the millions that uses some form of wireless technology, my specialty, on
which I was completely uninformed.
So, how does one satisfy one's curiosity in the internet age?
You could use Howstuffworks,
and you get an answer (try it!),
but readers of SSS Online are probably more technically inclined
than the target audience of this site. So ... You find the patents!
OK, you probably know that the formerly free IBM patent site is now called
www.Delphion.com and charges a hefty
subscription fee, but you can still do key word searching for free.
After you get patent numbers that you think might be interesting, go
to the US Patent and Trademark Office
http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html to get images or text of the actual patent for free.
(Author's note, 2/17/05: Now there's another free patent information website,
www.freepatentsonline.com. This web site has
free PDF downloading, instead of having to page through TIFs like at the US Patent Office,
and is faster than the US Patent Office's site. They intend to add some enhanced search features
soon, and the ability to search US Applications along with US Patents.)
But first, for any of these options I needed good search keywords. I went to my
favorite search engine, Google, and searched on
"anti-shoplifting tags" and found the site of Sensormatic
who seems to be a manufacturer of these devices. I found out that a
good key word phrase is "Electronic Article Surveillance".
So I went to Delphion and started what amounted to a simple patent
search. Using the references contained in the patents, I was able to go back
to some of the seminal patents in the area and read up on how these tags work.
Reading patents is an art unto itself and is beyond the scope of this note,
but if you stick to the Background, Description, and
Preferred Embodiment sections you can get an extremely good education!
Business on the Internet after the dot com collapse
By Katie Foran
No one talks about 'dot coms' anymore. It's as if their promise came and went in a flash.
During their white-hot, speculative heyday, many of dot coms over promised, under delivered,
lacked a realistic business plan and quickly squandered their venture capital.
So, they disappeared with good riddance.
However, now that the hype has evaporated, the Internet has become a quieter, almost routine
business tool that is finally living up to its potential. As a result, many companies are
still finding happiness on the worldwide web.
By adding value, delivering service and viewing it as simply another distribution channel,
the Internet is producing some interesting success stories. Take market research, for
example. At a time when traditional research tools - phone interviews, mail-in surveys,
etc., - are producing lower response rates, Internet-based research is exploding.
Architect John Portman & Associates, one of the world's leading hotel and educational
facility designers, wanted to find out what the nation's colleges and universities were
planning for new facilities over the next five years.
It had just completed a major mail-in survey of 13,000 female business travelers to
discover the special needs of that growing segment in the hospitality market with
the typical one to two percent response rate.
To lower its market research costs, the firm purchased the e-mail addresses of 3000
physical plant managers for America's leading institutions of higher learning.
Working with its public relations/advertising agency, it designed a short e-mail
questionnaire that was sent late in the afternoon just before the winter holiday
break in December.
Within minutes, the questionnaires came flooding back and over the next three days
more than 7.5 percent of the surveyed audience responded and only two people wrote
back asking to be dropped from the list.
Not only was the response rate three to four times above the norm, the cost of the
research was less than half of a printed, stamped mail-in survey.
Old Fashion Networking
Even with a wave of layoffs in its primary market financial services recruiting
Brokerhunter.com has been successful by allowing top-tier brokers and other financial
professionals confidentially shop for a better job, while giving prospective employers
the information they need to make critical hiring decisions.
The company's success has largely driven by a singular focus on a small, but crucial
segment of the financial services market. Brokerhunter.com concentrates on the hundreds
of thousands of branch-level sales and sales support personnel, such as Series 6 and 7
registered representatives (brokers), sales assistants, operations and other financial
professionals who want a career change within the industry, allowing individuals to
search for opportunities without sacrificing discretion.
The very nature of the 'dated' traditional Internet reacute;sumeacute; is that it can identify an
individual to others.
"That is usually not a problem unless the person looking at it happens to be one's boss!"
said Steve Testerman, President and co-founder of Brokerhunter.com. "This confidentiality
design philosophy puts the job candidate in complete control of the submission of information
to hiring firms."
Like most recruiting sites, access is free to job seekers; revenue comes from a fee paid by
the hiring firms. Unlike most recruiting sites, Brokerhunter.com is very focused.
"Because the site is tailored to the industry it services, it captures very specific
data for job candidates," Testerman said. "For example, stockbrokers are asked
about their trailing 12-month gross production, Assets in Your Book, Registrations Held
and even the U-4. This information gives a recruiter the pertinent dated needed to
Even in the midst of financial market turmoil caused by September 11, Brokerhunter.com
had one of its most profitable periods by staying focused on delivering a needed service
at a crucial time and viewing technology as a tool for providing service.
The Internet also continues to change business applications outside the traditional
dot com realm. Atlanta-based Coalition America (CAI) is a healthcare savings company
and a leader in preferred provider organization (PPO) network management and administration.
CAI specializes in the collection, verification and authentication of PPO network
data by linking large self-insured companies and other claim payors with the numerous
managed care companies needed to provide access to the best PPO networks for their employees.
Essentially, employers work with CAI to build their own customized preferred provider
organization. CAI matches employers with the national, regional or local PPO networks
that best meet their specific needs. CAI analyzes employee's usage of particular
medical providers and the discount offered by those providers, and then quilts
together the best network of providers geographically.
CAI's repricing service "RepriceNow," typifies the way companies are
using the Internet to save significant amounts of money. RepriceNow enables
healthcare claims to be instantly repriced avoiding the delays typically
associated with claims processing.
By automating and streamlining processes in a self-service environment,
administrative chores are greatly reduced. CAI customers can also access
provider demographic information via an automated voice response system.
This fax-on-demand capability allows for personalized provider directories
that can be frequently updated, eliminating costs associated with printing
and shipping traditional directories that are often outdated by the time
employees receive them.
As a result of this approach, companies are experiencing tremendous savings
at a time when medical insurance costs are going back to double digit levels.
By eliminating paperwork and administrative costs, more dollars can go into
delivering health care rather than processing claims.
Now that business has discovered that the Internet is simply a tool rather
than a completely new economic system, smart companies are adapting it to
their operations just like another piece of technology.
It's finally revolutionizing business in the way many expected, but primarily
by offering new ways to meet the old-style hopes, dreams and business needs
of the traditional economy.
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