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LWF: Is a Wikipedia for the wine industry possible?

Published:  05 May, 2016

A hot topic of conversation on the last day of the London Wine Fair is about how those in the industry share knowledge and information - and if the trade is working towards encyclopaedic database in the vein of Wikipedia.

The Wine Online industry briefing brought together technology forerunners Jonathan Reeve from Wine Searcher, Nick Martin from Wine Owners and Jonathan Harclerode from Bottlebooks this afternoon (May 5).

One audience member pointed out that all three are working on their own data collection websites which enables users to share wine knowledge and information, and asked whether this investment in different data sets is counterproductive.

One of the key themes at the briefing was whether the online sector is working towards one open data source that is accessible to all.

Jonathan Harclerode addressed concerns that this could lead to one company monopolizing one huge set of data.

He said: "First of all, the industry needs to show that it wants it. I don't think it's a case of winner takes all. I think to make it work we would need to get as many companies as possible on board and this will stop anyone from having an unfair advantage."

He went on to point out that according to a recent study, 5% of effort in data collection in the wine industry is wasted in the replication of data.

He was keen also to establish that Bottlebooks doesn't own the data it collects and doesn't pass data on to other companies.

"Bottlebooks isn't a database," he said. "It is a platform which allows people in the trade to upload information and share it with who they want."

Host Tom Cannavan said that there are still many businesses which refuse to accept that we live in a digital world - and that they are missing out "huge opportunities" and potential cost savings.

Harclerode echoed his comments, saying that technology has its place in the industry.

"The London Wine Fair isn't a technology event, it's a wine event which is all about bringing people together; and technology can - and has - helped to achieve that," he said.