Technology is the process of applying new scientific discoveries and other developments into products and processes. If we look at the development of production technology in many fields, we can see that progress often takes the form of a major breakthrough, followed by a series of less spectacular improvements. This pattern will then be repeated at regular intervals. For example we had the development of the Internet, followed by developments in Internet communications. Then we had the spectacular development of the web browser, followed by a series of modifications in its use.

The development of web search engines.

Today there is intense competition to build more and more efficient search engines. Search engine technology is based on a piece of software called a spider which can read links across the whole of the engine’s index. Search engines don’t search the whole of the World Wide Web – just their own indices made up of about 3 billion web pages. The spider puts pages into categories based on key words from which it creates a database in which it ranks its findings.

The way in which the search engine ranks pages is based on three elements:

1. An analysis of key words, and how these match particular searches.

2. The popularity of particular pages in terms of how many links they have to

other pages on the web.

3. How many times a page has been clicked on before.

The Case Study illustrates how a major breakthrough in technology – the development of search engines, is leading to ongoing improvements in the field. Perhaps a major breakthrough will be just around the corner.

The development of Information and Communications Technology has been the most dramatic technological development in recent years enabling businesses across the world to slash their costs and increase their efficiency.

For example, the engine manufacturer Cummins has been able to communicate with customers across the globe to help them install and maintain their engines. The Inland Revenue has developed systems so that taxpayers can fill in their tax forms online. Amway the world’s largest direct sales company communicates with its customers online.