Onvia’s business clients were recently migrated to Onvia 7, which provides them with a greater volume of government contract leads that are more relevant and of higher quality. This is just the latest in a series of innovative product and technology developments that have created positive momentum.
To gain insight into the role technology has played in creating this momentum for Onvia, we spoke to Naveen Rajkumar, Onvia SVP and Chief Information Officer. Rajkumar discusses the ways technology has helped enable Onvia to become the leader in commerce intelligence in the business-to-government (B2G) marketplace, and how newly implemented features improve the experience of Onvia clients.
Can you describe how the technology department is crucial to what Onvia does?
Technology is a key enabler for Onvia’s transformation from a lead notification service to become the market leader with our B2G Intelligence System (B2GIS). Technology touches every part of the business.
Our clients depend on our web based platform and email notifications to access the data around government procurement. Our sales and marketing teams use technology to manage prospects and customer data, and to perform market research. Every touch point with prospects and customers is made possible due to tech solutions. And support functions like HR and finance also rely heavily on technology for their day to day operations.
The technology organization at Onvia is well positioned to lead the category in innovation and establish a leadership position. A solid foundation has been laid over the past few years to put us here.
Onvia has experienced a large amount of positive momentum in the past year. What technology upgrades has the department implemented that have contributed to this momentum?
We completed migration of all our clients to Onvia 7, which uses natural language processing and a homegrown ontology for over 250 market segments. This was a huge achievement for the business since we don’t know of any other brokers of government procurement data which utilize this technology and intellectual property.
Let’s talk about Elastic Search first. How is this a superior search technology? What are some of the benefits will clients see from this?
Elastic Search is a search engine based on Lucene and is open source, i.e. it’s available to the public for free. Lucene provides a powerful full text searching capability. It is document oriented and it helps us work with complex procurement issues without compromising on search performance. It is easy to deploy, easy to maintain and is cloud friendly.
Our clients will see faster search speeds and a better search experience due to the combination of Elastic Search and our ontology. Our future products can take advantage of some of Elastic Search’s advanced capabilities. We had a limitation of searching across 12.5 million records with our previous search technology and we have removed that limitation with the deployment of Elastic Search.
Elastic Search solves the “distributed search” problem for big data text search better than any search engines out there. Elastic Search is built from the ground up for the distributed use case, not as an afterthought. As a result, we have a search infrastructure which plays well with our data growth strategy. We are using less than 50% of resources than our previous search engine and searching more data than before.
The other major recent development has been the launch of Mongo DB. What business problem did this address?
MongoDB is another open source technology that we included in our architecture stack in 2016. The nature of the data we collect requires a high degree of flexibility on the schema. A pure relational backend is unsuited for this. Our previous homegrown NoSQL system was developed to address this problem, but we were seeing limitations as we grew our database. MongoDb solves these specific problems with its NoSQL, schema-less nature along with the promise to handle our increasing data in our existing platforms very well.
We also used this opportunity to reorganize our data into active and passive sets, while also planning resources appropriately. Along with the compression technologies that come with MongoDB, our resource utilization dropped 80% with a performance improvement ranging from 10x-50x.
What other improvements has Onvia noticed since it launched?
Since its launch, MongoDB has enabled us to process more data on a day-to-day basis and it has had a direct customer impact by way of increased timelines. Now our clients see more projects on the same day that a government agency posts them.
What is the next big development on the radar for Onvia’s technology department?
Technology is evolving at breakneck speed and it is important for us to stay on top of all the changes. We believe we can disrupt the B2G procurement market with the innovative use of technology. We are constantly trying to solve complex problems for our customers with the application of technology.
As we move into 2017, how do you feel about where Onvia is positioned in terms of technology?
The technology changes we have recently made have put Onvia in a good position to lead the category in innovation and establish a leadership position in B2G. We are ready to play offense and take this category by storm.
By working on modern technology and constantly challenging ourselves to solve complex problems, we attract the best technical talent. Candidates who have interviewed with Onvia have walked away knowing that this will be a great place to work.
Our center point is our customers and they can expect to see Onvia provide a lot of value, delivered with a best in class technology experience.
Naveen Rajkumar joined Onvia in January, 2010, and leads the company’s technology & content operations teams as the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Rajkumar is an accomplished technologist with over 16 years of experience in developing new software products and in managing global software and operations teams for businesses in the information services and software industries.