Reversing innovation: from search engines to human search engines

A few months ago, Michael Kohen, Co-founder and COO at Wonder visited our offices in Paris, all the way from New York. Yann Gourvennec discussed with him about search and its future: is search better when don through search engines such as Google, or through the help of humans?Today, when one has a question , they simply Google it, and scroll through an infinite number of (potential) answers. But, is this really the most efficient solution when you’re a busy executive in a firm, and have one meeting after the other? That’s what the conversation was about. You can find the video below.  

What is Askwonder?

Askwonder is a ‘knowledge concierge’. This is a new term for services that focus on delivering relevant information on demand to people. In fact, Michael explains that the concept of Askwonder is all about delivering answers, whether it is stats, lists, insights, discoveries, you name it. It was initially designed for busy people, like marketers who do not really have the time to get lost in a pile of search engine answers. Spending long hours looking for information online is not really efficient. This is exactly how Askwonder was born. You can ask any kind of question, and your answers are delivered to you within a few hours. According to their Website, around 88,800 hours were saved thanks to this solution. How great is that?
Individuals and professionals (real estate agencies, marketers etc.) use this service. There are two groups that get the most out of this service : consultants and marketing professionals. These two types of people always have to work on market research or profiling for example, in addition to analysing this information and so on. This is why they rely on Askwonder.

How does Askwonder work?

The different steps from question to answer
The different steps from question to answer

As illustrated in the image above, the concept is quite simple. You have question, you ask it to the research team at Askwonder, around 1,000 US based researchers who are going to give you the answer as soon as they can. The answer includes a summary of insights and research that you can look deeper into.

About the back office

Kohen’s team is composed of librarians, journalists, PhDs , professors .. Basically people who have a certain profile. People who are incredibly talented and who have research in their DNAs. And this way, it works for everybody. People who do not have the time or the skills to do deep research can delegate this task to the Askwonder team, who are good at doing this more effectively.

From search engines to human search engines

Is Askwonder an example of reverse innovation? Because we are going backwards in term of innovative development. Before the web, all the information and the knowledge was stocked in physical libraries. You would walk the different aisles, turning the pages of different book genres, to find that one crucial information you need for a certain project.
Now that all this information is available online, we do not have the mentorship or guidance of a lovely librarian we have in the past in physical libraries.
Askwonder’s mission is to reintroduce the human guidance component, that is  important in terms of information and knowledge acquisition.

A visual scenario

A visual describing how Askwonder works

Yann Gourvennec
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