by Mark Chillingworth

Can Rorie Devine make Yell loud and proud?

Aug 12, 20093 mins

Rorie Devine was officially announced as the new CTOat the online directory.  Devine told CIO UK a few weeks back of the move and was clearly excited by the challenge ahead of him. In recent years Devine’s careerhas been, you could say, with organisations that are a new online take of doing an existing business. Betfair and a period consulting Bwin, are betting companies, but they have so little in common with the traditional betting industry that they are practically totally different industries. You only have to read the full CIO UK interview of Devine as he leftBetfair to see how the exchange business model at Betfair is far removed from the high street betting shop. Yell though is not so different from its ancestors at the Yellow Pages. “Good old Yellow Pages,” as the advertising slogan to those of us of a certain vintage know, was nothing more than search encased in a breeze block sized slab of Tonka Toy coloured dead wood, or paper as some call it. To younger generations the Yellow Pages and all that really useful data was swept away with Web 1.0, let alone today’s Twitterarti and 2.0 denizens. But the truth is, and the challenge for Devine and his team, that Yell is a powerful web property. Five years ago Mrs Chillingworth and I bought an ex-rental property, it of course needed some renovation (truth be told it still does, but I hate the task). As we all know, becoming a property owner immediately means becoming a card-carrying consumer of tradesmen. A house is a home, it also constantly requires painters, plumbers, boiler engineers, electricians and lord knows what else. Finding these people in your local area, especially if you live beyond the M25, is far from satisfying on Google. The dominant search engine is a wonderful tool for the vast majority of internet search queries, but for localised traders and craftsmen, Yell does the trick. Home ownership has made me a devotee of Yell.

The challenge for Yell is to become as embedded in daily life as Google has become. Recent news from Yahoo demonstrates how difficult this challenge is, Google has become as de facto resource.  The challenge for any search related service is to remain relevant. In terms of content, Yell is certainly relevant, but relevancy also means being part of core behaviour amongst users. I know from conversations I’ve had with Devine that he enjoys a challenge; it will be interesting to watch how Yell develops.