Yandex Turns to Big Data Services to Expand Beyond Search Engine

Yandex NV is seeking to use the technology it developed to become Russia’s largest search engine, with 60 million users, to help companies better target their customers.

The Data Factory project, unveiled today at Le Web innovation conference in Paris, plans to apply the algorithms it developed for consumer Internet -- including traffic forecasting and music recommendation services -- to analyze corporate data and propose how companies can improve business, according to Yandex.

With big data, mining large quantities of information to glean insights into consumer behaviors, Yandex plans to compete with software providers SAP AG and Microsoft Corp. to search engines Google Inc. and Baidu Inc. Its sales growth has slowed to no more than 30 percent this year, from 60 percent in 2011, as Russian Internet penetration catches up with western Europe.

“Our basic skill has been unique –- we are using math to analyze big data,” Yandex co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Arkady Volozh said in an interview. “We first used it to create great end-user services in the Russian-speaking Internet. Then we decided to see if our skills work in new geographies such as Turkey, and now we trying it in a new segment, business-to-business.”

The company, whose main offices are in Moscow, is trying to expand into other regions including Turkey and new business segment ranging from online-video to e-commerce to propel future growth.

The company’s first experiment in big data involved the Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment with the CERN Institute in 2011. Yandex said its Matrixnet technology was used to study specific types of particle collisions among thousands of terabytes of information registered during the experiment. The output produced using MatrixNet was used by 60 percent of publications on the experiment, according to Yandex.

Since then, Yandex has carried out big data projects for a large bank targeting borrowers, predicting traffic jams and accidents for a highway-management company and analyzing the gender structure of a South African client’s mobile application users, according to the company.

The company now has 20 more projects under way, Volozh said. The question now is turning big data into profits, he said.

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