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Have a tough question regarding your CRM evaluation, implementation, ROI measurement or other matter? Direct it to our resident expert Rob Kane using the Ask The Expert page. This page displays those questions and answers that may be useful to others.
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In a CRM powerpoint presentation, a sales rep indicated that his CRM system was the only application being oriented toward the semantic web. What is the semantic web and what is its relevance to CRM?

I'll answer your question and that suggest that you exercise extreme caution with any sales person indicating their application is or is about to leverage the semantic web.

First, let me caution that I am not a semantic web expert, however, I find the concept interesting and do follow its theory and advancement. The semantic web is the vision of Tim Berners-Lee, who of course invented the World Wide Web (contrary to Al Gore's claims) and is the director of the well respected W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). The intent of the semantic web is to encode documents and information with technology standards such as XML, RDF (Resource Description Framework) and OWL (the Web Ontology Language) so that computers can intrinsically understand the information content. The semantic web is an evolution from the current World Wide Web which is based on natural language (and thereby limited to people) to a medium which is described in such as way that it may be operated and understood by computers.

Second, the semantic web is almost entirely theoretical at this point and I am aware of no commercial (CRM or other) business applications that are making actual or claimed use of the semantic web. Today's web is well suited for document distribution. However, while XML serves as an industry standard for simple exchange, every XML document requires an XML Schema which imposes complications for transcending toward the semantic web. Until a more viable technology and/or standard is capable of identifying and linking information, humans are likely to remain the Web's sole interpreters.

Lastly, while I don't know what CRM organization you may be speaking to, let me suggest major caution with what you think you may have heard. As indicated, I'm aware of no CRM software or consulting organization making plans or claims to incorporate the semantic web into a CRM solution. For more information on the semantic web, I would refer you to Wikipedia or MIT's web sites.

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