Business researchers are always looking for the numbers. We do love our charts, graphs, and tables. bizologie has shown you how to search Google for market research reports that might present that kind of information. Now there is Zanran, a new search engine that calls itself the Google for data. "Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web... The numerical data that people have presented as graphs and tables and charts. For example, the data could be a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a barchart shown as an image in an HTML page."
Instead of a user searching for text on a page, Zanran searches the web for files that contain images with numerical content and the user searches that smaller universe. I love this idea. The only thing I see missing is searching for PowerPoint presentations. So much rich data can be mined from PPT files, it is a shame they are not included in the search. Zanran is still in Beta so maybe that will be added soon.
This search engine sounds similar to Wolfram Alpha. The difference is that Wolfram Alpha is looking to find the answer by analyzing the data, and Zanran presents a list of links that contain visual representations of numeric data that might answer the question. Zanran offers a hover over feature which allows you to see the PDF without waiting for the download. That save a ton of time when you are scanning a lot of documents. They also even pull out market research report links on the right. It still has a way to go, but this could be a great tool for competitive intelligence. Plus, you've got to love their office dog Freddie.