What is a decision engine?

Microsoft advertises Bing as a decision engine, not a search engine.  So, what is a decision engine?  Is it just a marketing ploy?  Or is it something truly different from your run-of-the-mill search engine?

Early 20th century steam engine

Early 20th century steam engine

You have probably already used a decision engine before.  Simply, it’ a search engine that helps you narrow down your results based on your own criteria.  Think about the last time you went shopping online.  Did you search for a product, and then narrow down your results by price, color, size, or brand?  This is a good example of a decision engine: it’ helping you decide what to buy through tailoring results to your specific needs.

According to Microsoft, Bing is “designed to empower people to gain insight and knowledge from the Web, moving more quickly to important decisions.”[1]  Microsoft attempts to solve the problem of users being overwhelmed by information, citing a study that showed that as much as 30% of searches were abandoned without a satisfactory result.  Further, two-thirds of the remaining searches in the study required users to either refine their results, or start over with a new search strategy. 

Bing improves upon this disappointing search experience by returning relevant results, allowing users to organize their search results, and by providing insight so users can make informed decisions.  The focus of Bing’ efforts to improve the searching experience has been in four areas: shopping, travel, local, and health.  For example, Bing will read your IP address and provide you with local results.  A search for “library” gave me results for libraries near my zip code.  A search for “sushi” returned local results along with definitions, pictures, and even reviews from food bloggers, all in a nice 3-column format.   

For me, this was a much better search experience than the same search on Google.  On Google, my results were in a single-column format, and all mixed together between local, informative, and news results.  It was more difficult to see at-a-glance, which results were the ones I needed, whether I was looking for a good sushi restaurant in my area, pictures of sushi, or how to make sushi.  Bing organized it all for me, and that what pretty great.

[1]

Microsoft Corporation.  (2009).  Microsoft’s new search at Bing.com helps people make better decisions.  Retrieved from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2009/may09/05-28newsearchpr.aspx
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Categories: About Bing, Bing vs. Google, Search engines

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