Social Genome

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Displaying 'relevant' information about a product is one of the key factors influencing a sale or no-sale in the retail space. Relevant information in today's social media world is not restricted to basic information about the product such as ingredients, specifications, and price but also includes many other information such as the number of 'likes' a product has on Facebook, the number of pins on Pinterest as well as reviews, recommendations and other suggestions by friends on various social networking sites. This way the information becomes personalized for the customer. The social relevance of the product to the customer is the organizing principle behind ranking the results on the new search engine  called Polaris that would power as well as its apps on mobile devices.

Polaris uses what Walmart calls the "Social Genome". Much like the way the sequencing of the DNA on the human genome determines the characteristics of the of the individual, the entities (people, events, topics, products, locations, and organizations) and the relationships that get established between them ( person being interested in a topic, a person attending an event, an event about a certain topic, an organization associated with a product) determines the ranking  and relevance of the results on the websites search engine. This is in many ways like curating the accumulated knowledge to display 'relevant' information to the customer. 

Though the Social-genome concept is used in the digital world, it has potential to be used in retail stores as well. Used in tandem with the Augmented Reality app as proposed by IBM, a customer can walk into a store and aim his or her mobile phone at a product of interest and get all the 'relevant information' as well as the collective wisdom of his or her 'friends' on the mobile device in real time and make an informed decision about buying the product. With the advent of Google glass, this is certainly not a far-fetched concept.