Category: text analytics

Attensity, NLP, and ‘Data Contextualization’

(Part 2 of an Attensity/text analytics update. Click to read part 1, Attensity Doubles Down: Finances and Management.)

Attensity ex-CEO Kirsten Bay’s LinkedIn profile states her Attensity objective as “develop go-to-market strategy to reorient corporate focus from social media, text analytics to corporate intelligence.” A shift of this sort — a step up the value ladder, from technology to solutions — seems sensible, yet Attensity has gone in a different direction. Since Bay’s December 2013 departure, the company has instead doubled-down on a technology-centered pitch, placing its positioning bet on algorithms rather than on business benefit.

We read on Attensity’s Web site — the first sentence under About Attensity (as of August 14, 2014) — “Our text analytics technologies use patented, state-of-the-art semantic approaches to extract and recall information into valuable insights.” Other main-page tag-lines: “Using semantic analysis to extract textual insights” and “Enabling customer insights for social and non-social data.” There are variations on this sort of language throughout Attensity’s marketing collateral.

A tech-centered pitch is great if you’re marketing to developers, to a market segment that knows it needs “semantic approaches.” A tech pitch may also appeal to insights professionals, to market researchers and consultants. But for a business exec who’s looking to boost customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty, for competitive advantage? Perhaps not so compelling.

In an article that preceded this one, I characterized Attensity’s May 2014, $90 million financing announcement as a doubling down, in both investment and technical positioning. The earlier article covered Attensity’s financial and management picture. This second one focuses on positioning and prospects, with a few words on Attensity Q, a new “easy-to-use real-time intelligence” solution for marketers.

Go Your Own Way

In my earlier article, I offered the impression that Attensity’s business performance, measured in financial and competitive terms, has been stagnant in recent years. Attensity’s Aeris Capital owners evidently agreed: Ex-CEO Kirsten Bay, in describing her Attensity assignment in her LinkedIn profile (as of the moment I’m writing this article) uses “restructure” and “recapitalize” twice each. Recapitalize? Done, although it’s unclear where the $90 million is going, or went. Restructure? I don’t know what steps have been taken beyond the hiring of a new marketing head, Angela Ausman, and the reversion to tech-centric market messaging. The company has declined to discuss its product roadmap.

Attensity’s message is certainly different from its nearest competitors’, who have had greater market and corporate success. Among business solution providers –

Medallia has invested heavily in text analytics, maintaining, however, a pitch built around business benefit: “understand and improve the customer experience.” Clarabridge repositioned several years ago as a customer experience management (CEM) solution provider; you won’t find “text analytics” on the main page of Clarabridge’s Web site. Kana (owned by interaction-analytics leader Verint) sells “customer service software solutions.” Confirmit bought text analytics provider Integrasco earlier this year, but eschews the “text analytics” label in favor of a functional description of the capability provided: “Discover insights in free-form content.” Pegasystems focuses on improving customer-critical business processes, with text analysis capabilities enhanced via the May 2014 MeshLabs acquisition but still playing a supporting role.

Attensity could do likewise: Contextualize its text analytics technology by repositioning as a business solutions provider. Attensity certainly does understand the importance of context, because “context” (along with “insights”) is the part of the company’s pitch that best bridges tech and business benefit.

Context and Sense

In some of its more-recent material, Attensity has termed itself “the leading provider of corporate insight solutions based on proprietary data contextualization.” See, for example, the Attensity Q announcement.

I asked Attensity its definition of “data contextualization,” but again, the company declined to take up my questions. So I’ll give you my definition: The notion that accurate data analysis accounts for provenance (identity, demographic and behavioral profile, and reliability of the source), channel (e.g., social media, surveys, online reviews, contact center), and circumstances (location, time, and activity prior, during, and after a data point) among other factors. There’s a word that describes data context — metadata — so what’s different is a dedication to better use it in analyses.

Nathan Shedroff: From data to wisdom via context.

Nathan Shedroff: From data to wisdom via context.

Authorities such as IBM’s Jeff Jonas have written (virtual) reams about context. See, for instance, Jonas’s G2 | Sensemaking -– Two Years Old Today. Other vendors have made the case for context. One pitch: “Digital Reasoning uses machine learning techniques to accumulate context and fill in the understanding gaps.” I’ll present to you an illustration that dates back two decades. It’s to the right, pulled from Nathan Shedroff’s 1994 Information Interaction Design: A Unified Field Theory of Design.

Gary Klein, Brian Moon, and Robert R. Hoffman wrote in 2006 about sensemaking embodied in intelligent systems that “process meaning in contextually relative ways,” that is, relative to the data consumer’s situation. “Data contextualization,” as I understand it, makes explicit an extension of Shedroff-type models into the data producers’ realm, to better power those sought-after intelligent systems. The concept isn’t new (per IBM, Digital Reasoning, SAS’ s Contextual Analysis categorization application, and other examples), even if the Attensity messaging/focus is.

How has Attensity implemented “data contextualization”? I don’t know details, but I do know that the foundation is natural language processing (NLP).

Attensity NLP Based Q

“The strongest and most accurate NLP technology” is Attensity advantage #1, according to marketing head Angela Ausman, quoted in a June Agency Post article, Attensity Q Uses NLP and Visualization to Surface Social Intelligence From the Noise. Attensity advantage points #2 and #3 are development experience and “deep breadth of knowledge in social and engagement analytical solutions,” setting the stage for introduction of Attensity Q. Attensity visualization dashboardAusman cites unique capabilities that include real-time results; alerting; “quotable metrics for volatility, sentiment, mentions, followers, and trend score”; and term-completion suggestions, via a visualization dashboard.

Attensity Q comes across as designed for ease-of-use and sophistication (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories) beyond the established Attensity Analyze tool’s. Attensity Pipeline‘s real-time social media data feed remains a differentiator, as do the NLP engine’s exhaustive extraction voice-tagging capabilities and the underlying parallelized Data Grid technology.

But none of this, except for Q, is new, so is any of it, Q included, enough to support a successful Attensity relaunch? The question requires context, which I’ve aimed to supply. Its answer depends on execution, and that’s CEO Howard Lau’s and colleagues’ responsibility. I wish them success.


Disclosure: Attensity sponsored 3 instances of a conference I organize, the Sentiment Analysis Symposium, most recently in the fall of 2012, and the company was a 2011 sponsor of my text analytics market study. A new version of that study is out, Text Analytics 2014, available for free download, sponsored by Digital Reasoning among others. And IBM’s jStart innovation team sponsored my 2014 sentiment symposium.

Attensity Doubles Down: Finances and Management

Attensity, founded in 2000, was early to market with text analytics solutions. The company’s “exhaustive extraction” capabilities, referring to the use of computational linguistics to identify entities and relationships in “unstructured” text, set a standard for commercial natural language processing (NLP). Rival Clarabridge, as a start-up, even licensed Attensity’s technology. Yet Attensity has struggled in recent years, reaching a possible low point with 2013’s less-than-a-year tenure of Kirsten Bay as CEO. And now, under Howard Lau, chairman (since early 2013) and CEO (with Bay’s December 2013 departure), and with $90 million in equity financing?

I would characterize the May 14, 2014 financing announcement as a doubling down, in both investment and technical positioning.

Attensity is worth a re-look, hence this article with a financial focus and another on positioning points that I’ll post soon. [Now posted, August 14, 2014, Attensity, NLP, and 'Data Contextualization'.] I hope to follow them in the fall with a look at innovations and the product roadmap.

A Doubling Down?

All Attensity will say about the $90 million transaction is that “Financing was provided by an international private equity fund and financial advisor company. The new capital secured will be used to accelerate product innovation; fuel market growth; and expand the sales, marketing, and engineering teams to meet the growing need for engagement and analytic applications using patented natural language processing (NLP) technology.”

I tried and failed to learn more. Marketing head Angela Ausman, who joined the company in April, declined to comment on questions I posed to her and CEO Howard Lau, regarding market positioning and growth markets, the competitive landscape, alliances, and the product roadmap. Lau has been unavailable for discussions.

“The company says it previously raised about $58 million,” according to May reporting in the San Francisco Business Times, and Attensity-acquired company Biz360 had itself raised about $50 million. I’m guessing the $58 million figure includes only investment in Attensity in its current form, that it discounts funding prior to 2009, the year Aeris Capital bought Attensity. Attensity no longer lists investors or much history on the company Web site. Early investors, surely since bought out, include In-Q-Tel, which led a 2002 $6 million round. I’d speculate that early owners did not fully recoup their investments.

Turn-arounds are tough.

I don’t know whether former CEO Kirsten Bay, who held the post from January to December 2013, chose to leave or was pushed out. Regardless, she may not necessarily have failed so much as not sufficiently succeeded, by her own or Attensity’s standards. When a company is losing customers, talent, and money (in order of importance) only radical restructuring or an asset sale will save the day.

My take is that Attensity’s troubles started under the longtime executive managers who preceded Bay. An industry-analyst friend offers the comment, “By the time they took Aeris money Attensity was already a dead enterprise. The money and support gave them a Death 2.0 runway.”

Attensity used the Aeris money to attempt to go big but was unable to make a go of the 2009 roll-up of Attensity and two German companies, Empolis and Living-e. Buying Biz360 in 2010 in order to get into social intelligence was a mistake. Social intelligence was at the time, and largely still is, a low-value, small(ish)-deal proposition that doesn’t pay unless you’re set up to do mass marketing, which Attensity wasn’t and isn’t. Attensity Respond goes beyond social intelligence to provide engagement capabilities.

I wonder whether the 2010 deal for real-time access to Twitter’s “firehose” has paid off, or will ever.

Also, Attensity had a failed foray in advanced analytics (data science), which probably wasted attention and opportunity more than it wasted money, but still a loss ill-afforded by the company. (Clarabridge pursued a similar predictive analytics initiative around the same time, in 2010 or so, working with open-source RapidMiner software, but didn’t invest much in the effort.)

Attensity Analyze

Attensity Analyze

So Attensity unrolled the 2009 roll-up, in particular shedding European professional services, but has maintained social listening (Pipeline) and engagement (Respond) capabilities, complemented by Attensity Analyze for multi-channel customer analytics. (I plan to write in another article about a new product, Attensity Q, and perhaps also about product technical underpinnings.)

Get On Up

Attensity business performance has seemingly been stagnant in recent years. The company has lost customers to rivals with no recent new wins that I know of. Attensity shed most senior staff. Everyone I knew personally at the company left within the last couple of years. Beth Beld, the chief marketing officer whom Kirsten Bay brought on in May 2013, stayed less than five months.

I do know that Bay met with potential Attensity acquirers, including two of my consulting clients, but none of them, evidently, saw promise sufficient to justify terms. If Dow Jones reporter Deborah Gage is correct, that the new funding comes from Aeris Capital AG, already Attensity majority owner, then the $90 million transaction truly does represent a doubling down, in a game with no other players.

The May funding announcement was a plus — call it a take-over from within — and I did receive a positive comment from a consultant friend: “We’re working with one of the Top 10 banks in the U.S. and they are migrating new lines of business from other tools over to Attensity.” Good new, but for Attensity to revive, we’re going to have to hear a whole lot more.


Click here for part 2, posted August 14, 2014, Attensity, NLP, and ‘Data Contextualization’.


Disclosure: Attensity sponsored 3 instances of a conference I organize, the Sentiment Analysis Symposium, most recently in the fall of 2012, and the company was a 2011 sponsor of my text analytics market study. A new version of that study is out, by the way, Text Analytics 2014, available for free download.

Call for Speakers… on the Business Value of Language Technologies (Dec 4-5, Brussels)

LTaccelerateLogoDoes your organization seek to make sense of social, online, and enterprise data? If so, a new, European, conference is for you.

LT-Accelerate is designed to help businesses, researchers, and public administrations discover business value via language technologies. With your participation — as a speaker, panelist, workshop presenter, or attendee — LT-Accelerate will be a great conference. Please consider submitting a
proposal in response to our Call for Speakers, preferably by August 15, 2014.

LT-Accelerate takes place December 4-5, 2014 in Brussels. I am developing LT-Accelerate jointly with LT-Innovate, the forum for Europe’s language technology industry. You may be familiar with my Sentiment Analysis Symposium conference (which I will continue in the US) or know my work as an industry analyst, or perhaps you follow LT-Innovate. Together, with your participation, we will make LT-Accelerate an outstanding event where you will meet, learn from, and network with fellow business innovators, academic and industry thought leaders, solution providers, and consultants. LT-Accelerate is about opportunity, unique in Europe.

What sort of speakers are we seeking? (And who should attend, speaker or not?)

Whether you are a business visionary, experienced user, or technologist, please consider proposing a presentation or panel. Submit your proposal now.

Choose from among the suggested topics or surprise us. We invite speakers who will focus on customer experience, market research, media measurement, financial services, life sciences, security, or social intelligence — on applications such as interaction and workforce analytics, digital analytics, social listening and engagement, trading strategies, and survey analysis. Our program will extend to technologies for text and sentiment analysis, social network analysis, and big data. But don’t let this list limit you. We see opportunity in innovation!

Please do propose an LT-Accelerate presentation, workshop, or panel, and if you have questions, do get in touch with me (coordinates below) or LT-Innovate’s Philippe Wacker, at phw@lt-innovate.eu. And follow us on Twitter at @LTaccelerate.

I hope to see you in Brussels in December!

Clarabridge Gets Engaged: A Report from the C3 User Conference

The Clarabridge Customer Connections (C3) conference has gotten to be a thing for me. There can’t be more than a handful of people, beyond company co-founder and CEO Sid Banerjee and me, who have attended all six C3s, dating back to the fall of 2008.

The conference name reflects what the company does: Clarabridge facilitates customer connections for its own corporate clients. C3 themes have evolved over the years, tracking Clarabridge’s shift away from self-identifying as technology provider and toward a business-solutions focus. In a 2008 C3 release, Clarabridge proclaimed itself “the leading provider of text analytics software [for] customer experience management (CEM).” This year, I don’t believe I heard even one use of the term “text analytics” in the company’s conference presentations. Instead, customer experience and the customer journey occupied center stage, as they have for several years (my 2010 C3 reporting), expanding this year to a broadened message. CEO Sid said it this way: “We’ve crossed the chasm from measurement to engagement.”

Surely, the (re-)defining moment took place April 8, just weeks before C3, when Clarabridge announced its acquisition of Market Metrix, “the leading Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) platform for the hospitality and gaming industries.” (EFM is a fancy name for survey systems for customer service and satisfaction, market research, and employee engagement.)

Clarabridge’s journey hasn’t been completely linear, however. C3’s big theme for 2013 was Intelligent Customer Experience. A year ago, Sid said, “ICE is really about integrating all the content, from all the sources, and applying intelligence to the multichannel content.” This year? No mention of Intelligent Customer Experience at C3, and the term is hidden away in nooks on the company’s Web site. I infer that while analytical intelligence — the ability to discover relevant insights in data — is necessary, it’s not a market differentiator. Indeed, in a briefing for analysts, Sid talked about two types of CEM company, those with text analytics, and those that are seeking to add the technology to their portfolios.

My take-away is that Clarabridge is competing on factors other than tool intelligence. The differentiators I see, and hear about from users, include ease-of-use, business-function and industry adaptation, and the ability to serve as a data hub via easy import of data from survey and social analytics tools.

Yet Clarabridge’s evolution, accelerated by the Market Metrix acquisition, puts Clarabridge on a competitive collision course with partners that include Confirmit and Verint. And sometimes those partners’ own steps put them in competition with Clarabridge, for instance, Verint, with its January 2014 acquisition of Kana, and the ever-tightening integration of social-intelligence platform Radian6 into Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Yet there are always new, complementary partners to develop, notably social-intelligence vendor Sysomos and speech-analysis provider Voci Technologies. The Voci partnership, by the way, will surely further test the Clarabridge-Verint partnership. The Sysomos link-up should last longer, so long as the companies operate in different spheres, noting that like Clarabridge, Sysomos has its own, robust natural-language processing technology.

Henry Edinger, chief customer officer at Travelers

Henry Edinger, chief customer officer at Travelers, sees customer insights everywhere

These partnerships are most often about data. A given customer will license software and services from multiple providers, and each system — each “touchpoint” or “channel” — generates data. In an “omni-channel” world, technology overlap is tolerable when the customers demand that their providers play nice (the Confirmit case), or the providers don’t (yet) compete (Clarabridge and Sysomos and also OpinionLab).

Consider the case of insurer Travelers, represented at C3 by Chief Customer Officer Henry Edinger, who works in a dynamic environment where “customer insights are everywhere,” where “everywhere” encompasses the leading social platforms and also solution/data providers Confirmit, Qualtrics, J.D. Power, and Lieberman Research Worldwide in addition to Clarabridge. Edinger spoke at C3 about an “outside-in approach,” where customer perceptions, interactions, and emotions create the customer experience. Analysis delivers insight but isn’t strictly by-the-numbers. Edinger described Travelers’ rewriting customer correspondence, replacing lawyer-crafted gems such as “I am writing to confirm that I will be handling the above referenced auto claim” with text that is such to be more-welcome to customers, “It was a pleasure speaking with you…”

Other Clarabridge customer, partner, and analyst presentations provided quite interesting, complementary industry insights.

On the best practices side, Jeff Mango talked about looking to Voice of the Customer data collection and analysis to surface problems, and Voice of the Employee for answers. Makes sense. Human judgment rules, even in the big data era, and human employees will understand customers in ways that machines can’t. Jeff also talked about the omni-channel challenge, the desire to know and link everything said everywhere. At Verizon, “we look at the right data sources at the right time, because we have 50.” You can’t do it all, all the time. But my favorite thought of Jeff’s was his linking customer business value and emotion.

Liz Spencer & Elizabeth Rector of Cisco talk text-infused analytical models

Liz Spencer & Elizabeth Rector of Cisco talk results from text-infused analytical models

The business value of sentiment, opinion, and emotion has been a focus of my work for several years now.

Another affirmation, for my 12 years in text analytics, was hearing Liz Spencer and Elizabeth Rector of Cisco describe how bringing results from customer satisfaction text analyses into their propensity-to-buy models led to a $5 million yearly sales gain, from that one, focused effort.

C3 did feature several partner presentations, from solution-provider partners and also from professional-service partners. It’s notable that the roster of Clarabridge service partners has expanded. Accenture has been on board for a few years, more recently joined by Acumen Solutions — information management lead Dave Marko is a Clarabridge alumnus; check out his 2013 C3 report — and this year, the W2O Group.

W2O’s Paul Dyer gave an interesting C3 presentation on Social Voice of the Customer. Dyer talked about a “complex ecosystem” of listening, filtering, and analysis solutions, built on tiers of data sources and suppliers, the latter including Gnip, DataSift, and Topsy. He offered the view that “software-enabled people” provide the best enterprise response to marketing challenges, and he described the emergence of “social intelligence supply chains” that harness analytics for business operations, via applications deployed ad-hoc and in command centers, to support customer engagement.

TemkinShot

People-centric experience design, according to Bruce Temkin

Finally, I always enjoy hearing customer-experience expert Bruce Temkin, who keynoted at C3 for perhaps the third time. This year’s talk was on “people-centric experience design,” which he characterizes as “fostering an environment that creates positive, memorable human encounter.” This design approach builds on purpose, empathy, and memories. While empathy in action, in corporate settings, boils down to ability to based decisions on deep customer insights — that is, the product of analytics — Bruce makes a key point that, in effect, it’s personal, the ability of customer-experience designers to see products and services from the customers’ point of view, as customers would experience them.

The implication, of course, is that applications powered by the Clarabridge Intelligence Platform, coupled with Clarabridge Social Intelligence, will help corporations get there, to uniformly positive customer interactions, through intentional, designed customer experience. The addition of engagement capabilities to the Clarabridge product portfolio, as showcased at this year’s C3 conference, is a significant advance toward that goal.


Disclosure: Clarabridge waived my C3 registration fee, but I did not ask the company to pay my travel expenses. Clarabridge paid me for a contributed blog article, Sentiment Analysis and Business Sense.

Metadata, Connection, and the Big Data Story

The big-data analysis process reduces to three elements: Collection, Synthesis, and Insight. We gather relevant data, harmonize and link it, and use analysis findings situationally. In the online/social/sensor era, “relevant” may reflect enormous data volume. “Harmonize” responds to variety, and situational applications must often accommodate high-velocity data. Context and latency considerations complicate matters. Latency refers to acceptable data-collection, analysis, and reporting lag. Low latency is crucial in online, mobile, and enterprise interactions. And context means metadata, good-old data about data, which can boost analysis accuracy (and also aide in proper data governance).

This article is about the roles of metadata and connection in the big-data story.

The Tower of Babel, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Human communications are complex: “The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Human Data: Fact, Feelings, and Intent

My particular interest is “human data,” communicated in intentionally expressive sources such as text, video, and social likes and shares, and in implicit expressions of sentiment. Implicit: We infer sentiment signals from behavior tracks (transaction records, click-/tap-streams, and geolocation) and social-network links and interactions.

Human data, from devices, online and social platforms, and enterprise transactional and operational systems, captures what Fernando Lucini characterizes as “the electronic essence of people.” Lucini is CTO of HP Autonomy. He is one of four industry authorities I interviewed as story sources. Lucini observes, “we interact with many systems, we communicate, we create,” yet analytics providers “don’t connect the dots in a way that’s truly useful, for each of us to be better served by information.”

The others I interviewed — IBM analytics strategist Marie Wallace, AlchemyAPI founder and CEO Elliot Turner, and Prof. Stephen Pulman of the University of Oxford and start-up TheySay — have similar points of view. (IBM and TheySay sponsored my recent, New York Sentiment Analysis Symposium. AlchemyAPI is sponsoring my up-coming market study, “Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers,” as is Digital Reasoning, mentioned later in this article.)

According to Marie Wallace, “the biggest piece of missing information isn’t the content itself, but the metadata that connects various pieces of content into a cohesive story.” What sort of metadata?

Stephen Pulman refers to properties of the message (for example, whether it’s humorous, sincere, or likely fake) and of the author, such as sex, age, and maybe also influence and ideology, which “tell us how we should treat the content of the message, as well as being interesting in themselves.”

As if expanding on Pulman’s thought, Marie Wallace asks, “if I don’t know the individual and the background behind her current communication, how can I really decide what her mood or intent is, and most importantly take effective action?”

Elliot Turner is particularly interested in intent mining, applied, for example, in efforts to predict an individual’s purchasing behavior.  Turner says, “success will combine elements like a person’s interests, relationships, geography — and ultimately his identity, purchase history and privacy preferences — so that applications can plot where a person is in his ‘buyer’s journey’ and provide the best offers at the best times.”

Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing (NLP) (and parsing and interpretation for formal languages) is a route to mining the information content of text and speech, complemented by techniques that extract interesting information from sound, images, and video. (Of course, network, geospatial, and temporal data come into play: Matter for another article.) Recognizing that NLP includes both language understanding and language generation, two parts of a conversation — think about, but also beyond, “question answering” systems such as Apple Siri — I asked my interviewees, How well are we doing with NLP?, and also about our ability to mine affective states, that is, mood, emotion, attitudes, and intent.

Stephen Pulman sees “steady progress on parsing and semantic-role labeling, etc., for well-behaved text” — by “well-behaved,” he means (relatively) grammatical, correctly spelled, and slang-free — but “performance goes down pretty steeply for texts like tweets or other more casual forms of language use.”

Elliot Turner observes, “a never-ending challenge to understanding text is staying current with emerging slang and phrases,” and Marie Wallace believes, “if we look to lower quality content (like social media), with inherently ambiguous analysis (like sentiment, opinion, or intent), then it’s still a bit of a crapshoot.”

Turner says “the trend is easy to spot: The interactive question-answering capabilities made famous by IBM’s Watson will become commonplace, offered at a fraction of today’s costs and made available as easy-to-integrate Web services… We will see search and retrieval transform to become dialog-based and be highly aware of an ongoing context. Machines will stay ‘in conversation’ and not treat each search as a unique event.”

In conversational context, Fernando Lucini sees a problem of understanding how information elements link to other pieces of information: “It’s how the information connects that’s critical,” and understanding depends on our ability to tap into the right connections. He sees progress in analytical capabilities being driven swiftly by increasing demand, applying “all sorts of techniques, from unsupervised to supervised [machine learning], from statistical to linguistic and anything in between.”

One particular technique, unsupervised learning, which AlchemyAPI CEO Turner describes “enabl[ing] machines to discover new words without human-curated training sets,” is often seen as materially advancing language-understanding capabilities, but according to Autonomy CTO Lucini, the real aim is a business one, “making sure that any piece of information fulfills its maximum potential… Businesses need to have a clear view how [information availability] translates to value.”

While Marie Wallace says, “we’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of the insights that can be derived from these new advanced learning techniques,” Prof. Pulman notes, “there is usually a long way to get from a neat research finding to an improved or novel product, and the things that researchers value are often less important than speed, robustness and scalability in a practical setting.” (Pulman gave a quite interesting talk, Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing, at the March 6, 2014 Sentiment Analysis Symposium.)

Opportunity

I see mobile computing as opening up a world of opportunity, exploitable in conjunction with advances on a variety of technical and business fronts. Which? I asked my interviewees. The responses bring us back to this article’s starting point, metadata, context, and connection.

Marie Wallace says “Mobile is the mother load of contextual metadata that will allow us to provide the type of situational insights the contextual enterprise requires.” Add longer-established sources to the picture, and “there is a significant opportunity to be realized in providing integration and analysis (at scale) of social and business data… Once we combine interactional information with the business action, we can derive insights that will truly transform the social business.”

This combination, which I referred to as “synthesis,” is at the core of advanced big-data analytics, the key to solutions from providers that include, in addition to IBM and HP Autonomy, companies such as Digital Reasoning and Palantir.

IBMer Wallace adds, “privacy, ethics, and governance frameworks are going to be increasingly important.”

According to Fernando Lucini, mobile is great for HP Autonomy because it means “more use of information — in our case, human information.” He sees opportunity in three areas: 1) supporting “better and more real-time decisions [that] connect consumer and product,” 2) information governance, because “securing or protecting information, as well as evaluating the risk in information and then being able to act suitably and in accordance with regulation and law, is a considerable integration and synthesis challenge,” and 3) provision of self-service, cloud tools.

Stephen Pulman similarly starts with a technical observation and then draws a lesson about business practices: “One thing we have learned at TheySay is that a combination of text analysis like sentiment along with other, often numerical, data gives insights that you would not get from either in isolation, particularly in the financial services or brand management domains. Finding the right partners with relevant domain expertise is key to unlocking this potential.”

Finally, Elliot Turner discusses the opportunity created by his company’s variety of technology, providing elements such as text analysis and classification and computer vision, via cloud services: “Large public companies are exploring how to incorporate modern text analysis capabilities into their established product lines,” while “innovative startups are charging at full speed with business plans aimed squarely at disrupting… business intelligence, customer support, advertising and publishing, sales and marketing automation, enterprise search, and many other markets.”

So we learn that the opportunity found via big-data analysis takes the form of situational insights, relying on integration and analysis of social and business data. It involves connection, governance, and easier access to strong tools, guided by domain expertise. The aims are expanded capabilities for some, innovation and disruption for the upstarts. Achieve these aims, and you just might have the clear view cited by one of my interviewees — provided via savvy, integrated, all-data analyses — of the path to value.


Read the full Q&A texts by clicking or tapping on the names of interviewees Fernando Lucini (HP Autonomy), Marie Wallace (IBM), Elliot Turner (AlchemyAPI), and Stephen Pulman (University of Oxford and TheySay). Also check out my recent article, Text Analytics 2014.

Text Analytics 2014: Tom Anderson, Anderson Analytics and OdinText

I post a yearly look at the Text Analytics industry — technologies and market developments — from the provider perspective. This year’s is Text Analytics 2014.

To gather background material for the article, and for my forth-coming report Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers (which should be out by late May), I interviewed a number of industry figures: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. (The links behind the names will take you to the individual Q&A articles.) This article is –

Text Analytics 2014: Q&A with Tom Anderson, Anderson Analytics and OdinText

Tom H.C. Anderson

Tom H.C. Anderson, founder of Anderson Analytics and OdinText

1) How has the market for text technologies, and text-analytics-reliant solutions, changed in the past year? Any surprises?

Customers are starting to become a little more savvy than before which is something we really welcome. One of two things used to happen before, we either had to explain what text analytics was and what the value was or two, sometimes had to deal with a representative from purchasing who represented various departments all with different unrealistic and unnecessary expectations on their wish list. The latter especially is a recipe for disaster when selecting a text analytics vendor.

Now more often we are talking directly to a manager who oftentimes has used one of our competitors, and knows what they like and don’t like, has very real needs and wants to see a demo of how our software works. This more transparent approach is a win-win for both us and our clients.

2) Do you have a 2013 user story, from a customer, that really illustrates what text analytics is all about?

I have several great ones, but perhaps my favorite this year was how Shell Oil/Jifffy Lube used OdinText to leverage data from three different databases and discover exactly how to drive profits higher : http://adage.com/article/dataworks/jiffy-lube-net-promoter-score-goose-sales/243046/

3) How have perceptions and requirements surrounding sentiment analysis evolved? Where are sentiment capabilities heading, in your view?

OdinText handles sentiment quite a bit differently than other companies. Without getting into that in detail, I will say that I’m pleased to see that one good thing has happened in regard to the discourse around sentiment. Specifically, vendors have stopped making sentiment accuracy claims, as they seem to have figured out what we have known for quite some time, that accuracy is unique to data source.

Therefore the claims you used to hear like “our software is 98% accurate” have stopped. This is refreshing. Now you are likely to only hear accuracy claims from academia, since usually they have very limited access to data and are less likely to work with custom data.

Equally important in the industry realizing that sentiment accuracy claims don’t make sense is the fact that even clients have started to realize that comparing human coding to text analytics is apples to oranges. Humans are not accurate, they are very limited, Text analytics is better, but also very different!

4) What new features or capabilities are top of your customers’ and prospects’ wish lists for 2014? And what new abilities or solutions can we expect to see from your company in the coming year?

We’ve been adding several new powerful features. What we’re struggling with is adding more functionality without making user interface more difficult. We’ll be rolling some of these out in early 2014.

5) Mobile’s growth is only accelerating, complicating the data picture, accompanied by a desire for faster, more accurate, and more useful, situational insights delivery. How are you keeping up?

I know “real time analytics” is almost as popular buzzword as “big data”, but OdinText is meant for strategic and actionable insights. I joke with my clients when discussing various “real-time reporting” issues that (other than ad-hoc analysis of course) “if you are providing standard reports any more often than quarterly or at most monthly, then no one is going to take what you do very seriously”. I may say it as a joke, but of course it’s very true. Real-time analytics is an oxymoron.

6) Where does the greatest opportunity reside, for you as a solution provider Internationalization? Algorithms, visualization, or other technical advances? In data integration and synthesis and expansion to new data sources? In providing the means for your customers to monetize data, or in monetizing data yourselves? In untapped business domains or in greater uptake in the domains you already serve?

I do think there’s a lot more opportunity in monetizing data, one of the things we are looking at.

7) Do you have anything to add, regarding the 2014 outlook for text analytics and your company?

End of 2013 was better than expected, so very excited about 2014.

Thank you to Tom! Click on the links that follow to read other Text Analytics 2014 Q&A responses: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid BanerjeeFiona McNeill of SAS, and Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González. And click here for this year’s industry summary, Text Analytics 2014.

Text Analytics 2014: Sid Banerjee, Clarabridge

I post a yearly look at the Text Analytics industry — technologies and market developments — from the provider perspective. This year’s is Text Analytics 2014.

To gather background material for the article, and for my forth-coming report Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers (which should be out by late May), I interviewed a number of industry figures: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. (The links behind the names will take you to the individual Q&A articles.) This article is –

SidBanerjeeText Analytics 2014: Q&A with Sid Banerjee, Clarabridge

1) How has the market for text technologies, and text-analytics-reliant solutions, changed in the past year? Any surprises?

The market has seen a lot more competition by way of historically non-text analytics vendors adding various forms of text analytics solutions to their product mix.  In 2013 several survey companies added text and sentiment analytics capability.  Workforce Management vendors highlighted their customer experience analytics capabilities, many powered by text (and speech) analytics capabilities – which were, depending on the vendor, home grown, or licensed from pure play text companies.  And even social CRM, and social marketing vendors – whose primary focus until this year was social communication and marketing automation processes, started adding sentiment mining and text analytics capabilities into their product mix.  As a result the market got a bit more confusing from a vendor selection perspective.  Firms like Clarabridge have continued to tout “multichannel” customer experience intelligence and text/sentiment capabilities – partly because it’s always been our focus, but also to seek to differentiate from the new crop of mostly point solution providers of text analytics.  It’s likely that this trend of more point solutions focused on single source based analytics and deployment to departmental users, while enterprise providers focus more on multichannel analytics, and enterprise deployments, will continue in 2014.

2) Do you have a 2013 user story, from a customer, that really illustrates what text analytics is all about?

A few.  An airline customer merged with a major airline and over the course of 2013 used text analytics (from surveys, social, and customer call centers) to ensure critical customer feedback was incorporated into the inevitable changes that occur when companies come together.  Feedback was used to figure out how to manage switching a customer base to a new brand of coffee with minimum disruption.  Feedback was used to identify which boarding processes (from the two airlines) was most acceptable to the passengers of the other airline.  And branding, support, frequent flyer programs, and many other processes were monitored and modified, as needed to ensure customer needs and wants were met.

My favorite story comes from a leading wireless vendor, who used Clarabridge during Hurricane Sandy. (while Sandy occurred in 2012, I learned about it in early 2013).  The carrier suffered extensive network outages along the Jersey Shore, and of course the outages, and general suffering from their customers who suffered displacement and devastation affected entire communities.  As the carrier was tracking outages, customer feedback, and general recovery efforts after the hurricane, they caught wind of a trending topic via social and other channels of customers wondering if they were going to be charged for the days and weeks their service was out.  Left unaddressed, the company realized they were likely to see a growing chorus of requests for credits flooding their call centers from unhappy and inconvenienced customers.  After consulting with the business owners across the region, the carrier decided to proactively notify all affected customers that if they were residents of areas incurring outages, their charges would be proactively suspended while reconstruction work was going on.  The positive impact on customer satisfaction was immediate, and the company averted a frustrating and distracting impact on its customer relationships.

Both stories highlight a consistent theme about the value of text analytics in the context of customer experience.  If you listen to your customers, you can find problems, you can fix things more proactively, you can avert cost and inconvenience for both you and your customers, and you can create a more loyal and and lasting relationship between you and your customers.   That’s really what it’s all about.

3) What new features or capabilities are top of your customers’ and prospects’ wish lists for 2014?  And what new abilities or solutions can we expect to see from your company in the coming year?

At a high level – expect to see the following:

More Big Data: we will support ever high data volumes

More Big Data Analytics: we will support more use of analytics to separate actionable data from non actionable data, to identify trends and insights, to make recommendations and predictions, and to suggest interactions and conversations between companies and customers.

More Uses:  In the past our customers have generally looked to Clarabridge insights and analytics, powered by text and sentiment analytics.  They will continue to see business value and application value in these areas, but our products have evolved in 2013 and will continue to evolve in 2014 to include more mobile deployability, more collaboration and alerting capability, and more capability to recommend and enable customer engagement.  Our solutions will increasingly be designed to support the specific usability and functionality requirements of key practitioners of customer experience analysis, customer engagement, and customer support.

4) Mobile’s growth is only accelerating, complicating the data picture, accompanied by a desire for faster, more accurate, and more useful, situational insights delivery. How are you keeping up?

We launched Clarabridge GO in fall 2013. With this application Android, iPhone, and iPad users can run reports, get alerts, view dashboards, collaborate with fellow employees, and directly engage with end customers, all from their mobile applications.  The application brings together social, survey and feedback content into a single mobile portal, alerting, and engagement framework.  We are seeing more and more of our customers looking for mobile access to insights and looking for the platform to engage and respond. Clarabridge GO is designed to package the Clarabridge capability for the mobile user.

5) Where does the greatest opportunity reside, for you as a solution provider? Internationalization? Algorithms, visualization, or other technical advances? In data integration and synthesis and expansion to new data sources? In providing the means for your customers to monetize data, or in monetizing data yourselves? In untapped business domains or in greater uptake in the domains you already serve?

More markets/languages – we will continue to internationalize our product for more markets, languages, and use cases.

Algorithms – we are continuing to invest in making our algorithms more scalable (to handle more volumes), more “intelligent” to provide more recommendation/action based findings, not just insights), and more accurate/useful (separating useful data from noise, ensuring the most accurate mappings and tagging are occurring as we process text and unstructured content), and more linked (connecting more data points from more disparate sources into integrated, linked insights across more and more customer interaction touch points.

Extending the core platform to more “uses” for more “users.” – lots of plans here – we will be announcing more in 2014.

More content types.  We intend to follow customer expression in whatever form factor it takes.  Customers increasingly are mixing media, structured, semistructured, unstructured.  We will continue to look for ways to follow customer conversations across media, and apply intelligence to structure, deduce, provide insights, and help make recommendations.

6) Do you have anything to add, regarding the 2014 outlook for text analytics and your company?

More partnerships – 2014 is the year I expect to see major productive partnerships developing between technology service, and support partners.  Companies are making major investments in institutionalizing customer experience across the enterprise, powered by customer insights extracted from unstructured customer interaction and feedback data.  To support the investments, expect to see the big Systems Integrators, Business Process Outsources (BPOs), marketing services companies, and technology vendors working more and more closely together to common cause – helping customers realize value to customer experience insights.  Making better products.  Creating positive customer experiences.  Marketing more relevant and successful campaigns. And more smartly managing customer relationships.  All aided by intelligent customer experience technologies like Clarabridge.

Thank you to Sid! Click on the links that follow to read other Text Analytics 2014 Q&A responses: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. And click here for this year’s industry summary, Text Analytics 2014.

Text Analytics 2014: Fiona McNeill, SAS

I post a yearly look at the Text Analytics industry — technologies and market developments — from the provider perspective. This year’s is Text Analytics 2014.

To gather background material for the article, and for my forth-coming report Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers (which should be out by late May), I interviewed a number of industry figures: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. (The links behind the names will take you to the individual Q&A articles.) This article is –

Text Analytics 2014: Q&A with Fiona McNeill, SAS

Fiona McNeill is Global Product Marketing Manager at SAS, co-author of The Heuristics in Analytics: A Practical Perspective of What Influences Our Analytical World. The following are her December, 2013 Q&A responses:

1) How has the market for text technologies, and text-analytics-reliant solutions, changed in the past year? Any surprises?

Text analytics is now much more commonly recognized as mainstream analysis, seen to improve business decisions, insights and helping drive more efficient operations.   Historically, those of us in this field spent time gaining mindshare that text should be analyzed (beyond analysis of sentiment, mind you) – and over the past year this has shifted to best practice methods of describing the ROI from text analytics to upper management.  This demonstrates common recognition within organizations that there is value in doing text analysis in the first place. And now the focus has shifted to how best to frame that value for senior stakeholders.

The ease of analyzing big text data (hundreds of millions or billions of documents) has also improved over the past year, including extensions of high-performance text mining (from SAS) to new distributed architectures, like Hadoop and Cloudera.  Such big content technologies will continue to expand and we can expect functionality to extend to more interactive and visual text analytics capabilities over the coming year.

2) Do you have a 2013 user story, from a customer, that really illustrates what text analytics is all about?

We can speak to customer applications that illustrate what text analytics is all about, not mentioning names unfortunately.   One is a retail client, that recognized text data as a rich source, addressing a wide range of initial business challenges – from real-time digital marketing, bricks-and-mortar risk monitoring, automatic detection of issues and sentiment from customer inquiries, internal problem identification from on-line help forums, improve web purchases with more relevant content, improving predictive model scores for job candidate suitability, and more. This SAS customer understood that text data is everywhere, which means that analysis of text data will help them better answer whatever business question they have.

Another customer is a manufacturer, who strategically understands that the power of text analytics and how it improves collaboration, communication and productivity within an organization. As such, they wanted an extensible platform to address all types of text documents. They also had a wide-range of written languages that they needed to integrate into existing search and discovery methods, in order to provide more accurate and more relevant information across their entire business. This SAS customer understood the innovation that can come when resources are freed from searching, and when they are empowered with finding the answers they need and when they need it, creating an organization with “The Power to Know.”

We have a European customer announcement [that came] out in February, focused on leveraging WiFi browsing behavior and visitor profiles to create prescriptive advertising promotions in real-time to in-store shoppers. This is big data, real-time, opportunistic marketing – driven by text insights and automated operational decision advertising execution. In other words, putting big text insights to work – before the data is out of date.

3) How have perceptions and requirements surrounding sentiment analysis evolved? Where are sentiment capabilities heading, in your view?

It is no longer necessary to explain why sentiment analysis is important, it’s been largely accepted that customer, prospect and the public perception an organization is useful to understand product and brand reputation.  Historically, there was a focus on how well these models worked. It’s gradually being understood that there are tradeoffs between precision and recall associated with sentiment scores, at least in some domains.  Acceptance it appears (and as with any new modeling technique), has occurred within the bounds of applicability to adding previously unknown insight into the context of comments, reviews, social posts and alike.  To that end, and when a generalized methodology is used, as is the case at SAS, the sentiment polarity algorithm is evolving to examine an even broader set of scenarios – from employee satisfaction, author expertise, mood of an individual, and so forth.  Sentiment appears to be headed to the structured data analysis realm – becoming a calculated field that is used in other analysis – like predictions, forecasts, and interactive visual interrogation. And as such, identifying the ROI of sentiment analysis efforts is expected to become easier.

4) What new features or capabilities are top of your customers’ and prospects’ wish lists for 2014? And what new abilities or solutions can we expect to see from your company in the coming year?

At SAS, all software development is driven by our customer needs – and so products you see coming from SAS are based on what they told us require to solve business challenges and take advantage of market opportunities. For text analytics, our customers continue to want to more interactive text visualizations – to make it even easier to explore data to both derive analysis questions and to understand the insights from text results. They want easier methods to develop and deploy text models. Our customers also want more automation to simplify the more arduous text related tasks, like taxonomy development. They want to easily access the text, understand it, the sentiment expressed in it, extract facts and define semantic relationships – all in one, easy-to-use environment. They don’t want to learn a programming language, spend time and resource integrating different technologies or use multiple software packages.  We’ve responded to this with the introduction of SAS Contextual Analysis – that will, by mid-year 2014 expand to provide an extremely comprehensive, easy-to-use and highly visual environment for interactively examining and analyzing text data. It leverages the power of machine learning and includes with end-user subject matter expertise.

We will also continue to extend technologies and methods for examining big text data – continuing to taking advantage of multi-core processing and distributed memory architectures for addressing even the most complex operational challenges and decisions that our customers have. We have seen the power of analyzing big data with real-time data-driven operations and will continue to extend platforms, analytic methods and deployment strategies for our customers. In October, 2013, we announced our strategic partnership with SAP – to bring SAS in-memory analytics to the SAP HANA platform. You’ll see our joint market solutions announced over the coming year.

5) Mobile’s growth is only accelerating, complicating the data picture, accompanied by a desire for faster, more accurate, and more useful, situational insights delivery. How are you keeping up?

With a single platform for all SAS capabilities we have ability to interchange a wide range of technologies, which can easily be brought together to solve even the most complex analytic business challenges, for mobile or other types of real-time insight delivery. SAS offers a number of real-time deployment options, including SAS Decision Manager (for deploying analytically sound operational rules), SAS Event Stream Processing Engine (for analytic processing within event streams), SAS Scoring Accelerator for Hadoop (as well as other big data stores – for real-time model deployment), and real-time environments for analyzing and reporting data – that operate on mobile devices, such as SAS Visual AnalyticsSAS also has native read/write engines and support for web services, and as mentioned above, we have recently announced strategic partnership with SAP for joint technology offerings bring the power of analytics to the SAP/HANA platform.

We are constantly extending such capabilities, recognizing that information processing is bigger, faster and more dependent on well-designed analytic insight (including that from text data) than ever before. This growing need will only continue.

6) Where does the greatest opportunity reside, for you as a solution provider? Internationalization? Algorithms, visualization, or other technical advances? In data integration and synthesis and expansion to new data sources? In providing the means for your customers to monetize data, or in monetizing data yourselves? In untapped business domains or in greater uptake in the domains you already serve?

Given our extensive portfolio of solutions, SAS continues to invest in technology advances that our customers tell us they want to address the growing complexities of their business.  This includes ongoing advances in algorithms, deployment mechanisms, data access, processing routines and other technical considerations. We continue to expand our extensive native language support, with over 30 languages and dialects already available in our text analytics products. Additional languages will be added as customer needs dictate.  And while we already offer solutions to virtually every industry, we continue to further develop these products to provide leading edge capabilities for big data, high-performance, real-time analytically-driven results for our customers.  You’ll see us moving more and more of our capabilities to cloud architectures.  For SAS, another great opportunity is the production deployment of analytics to automate, streamline and advance the activities of our customers. You’ll continue to see announcements from us over the coming year.

7) Do you have anything to add, regarding the 2014 outlook for text analytics and your company?

At SAS, text data is recognized as being a rich source of insight that can improve data quality, accessibility and decision-making. As such, you’ll see text-based processing capabilities in products outside of the pure-play text analytics technologies.  And because of the common infrastructure that has been designed by SAS – all of these capabilities are readily integrated, and can be used to address a specific business scenario.  We will continue to extend text-based processing and insights into traditional predictive analysis, forecasting and optimization – as well as new solutions that include text analysis methods, and updates to existing products, like SAS Visual Analytics and our upcoming release of a new in-memory product for Hadoop (release announcement pending).   From a foundational perspective, text-based processing continues to be extended throughout our platform, with pending linguistic rules augmenting business and predictive scoring in real-time data streams, with extensions to analytically derived metadata from text and more.  And given the nature and recognition of text and what it can bring to improved insights, you’ll also see our industry solutions continue to extend the use of text-based knowledge.

Thank you to Fiona! Click on the links that follow to read other Text Analytics 2014 Q&A responses: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. And click here for this year’s industry summary, Text Analytics 2014.

Text Analytics 2014: Jose Carlos Gonzalez, Daedalus

I post a yearly look at the Text Analytics industry — technologies and market developments — from the provider perspective. This year’s is Text Analytics 2014.

To gather background material for the article, and for my forth-coming report Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers (which should be out by late May), I interviewed a number of industry figures: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. (The links behind the names will take you to the individual Q&A articles.) This article is –

Jose Carlos GonzalezText Analytics 2014: Q&A with José Carlos González, Daedalus

1) How has the market for text technologies, and text-analytics-reliant solutions, changed in the past year? Any surprises?

Over the past year, there has been a lot of buzz around text analytics. We have seen a sharp increase of interest around the topic, along with some caution and distrust by people from markets where a combination of sampling and manual processing has been the rule until now.

We have perceived two (not surprising) phenomena:

- The blooming of companies addressing specific vertical markets incorporating basic text processing capabilities. Most of the time, text analytics functionality is achieved through integration of general-purpose open source, simple pattern matching or pure statistical solutions. Such solutions can be built rapidly from large resources (corpora) available for free, which has lowered entry barriers for newcomers at the cost of poor adaptation to the task and low accuracy.

- Providers have strengthened the effort carried out to create or educate the markets. For instance, non-negligible investments have been made to make the technology easily integrable and demonstrable. However, the accuracy of text analytics tools depends to some extent on the typology of text (language, genre, source) and on the purpose and interpretation of the client. General-purpose and do-it-yourself approaches may lead to deceive user expectations due to wrong parametrization or goals outside the scope of particular tools.

2) Do you have a 2013 user story, from a customer, that really illustrates what text analytics is all about?

One of our most challenging projects in 2013 was about real-time analysis of social media content for a second screen application, where text analytics has had multiple roles: First, providing capabilities to focus on aspects of the social conversation about TV programs (actors, characters, anchor, sponsors, brands, etc.), analyzing at the same time the sentiment expressed on them.

Second, recommending and delivering content extracted automatically from external sources. These sources can be general (Wikipedia), specialized (TV magazines and websites), personal or organizational (web, Facebook or LinkedIn pages of people or organizations), and popular content shared by users in social media.

Third, providing clues for contextual and intent-based advertising. Fourth, profiling user interest and (inferred) demographic features for targeted and personalized advertising (beyond contextual). The project, which we fully carried out for a telecom company owning a DTTV license with multiple TV channels, involved real-time text analytics in a big data environment, plus all the visualization and user interface design.

This user case is shown to demonstrate the versatility of text analytics to fulfill multiple roles in a single project.

3) What new features or capabilities are top of your customers’ and prospects’ wish lists for 2014? And what new abilities or solutions can we expect to see from your company in the coming year?

Our goal for 2014 is to cover progressively the specific needs of our clients by helping them to develop solutions in vertical markets, freeing them from the complexity of language processing technology. This involves developing our API offering in Textalytics (http://textalytics.com), our Meaning as a Service product.

The first new API to be delivered in 2014 is specialized in semantic publishing. A second one planned in our road map will be for Voice of Customer Analysis.

As personalization is also a need perceived across markets, we are also integrating a user management API, allowing our clients to edit and manage by themselves specialized dictionaries, classification taxonomies and models.

4) Mobile’s growth is only accelerating, complicating the data picture, accompanied by a desire for faster, more accurate, and more useful, situational insights delivery. How are you keeping up?

As explained above, one of our main working topics in 2013 was about real-time analysis of social media streams for different purposes, integrated in smartphone and tablet apps. In particular, we have developed a second screen app for the TV industry. We perceive that mobile apps will continue acting as a major force, designing new scenarios and driving further opportunities for text analytics technologies.

5) Where does the greatest opportunity reside, for you as a solution provider? Internationalization? Algorithms, visualization, or other technical advances? In data integration and synthesis and expansion to new data sources? In providing the means for your customers to monetize data, or in monetizing data yourselves? In untapped business domains or in greater uptake in the domains you already serve?

Having experience in many different industries (media, telecom, defense, banking, market intelligence, online marketing, etc.) and in many different languages, our greater challenge is internationalization. The Textalytics brand implements our strategy for a global, multi-industry offering. Textalytics represents a new semantic/NLP API concept in the sense that it goes well beyond the basic horizontal functionality that is being offered in the market: we also offer pre-packaged, optimized functionality for several industries and applications and the possibility for the customer to tailor the system with their dictionaries and models. The customer benefits are a much higher productivity with low risks and costs.

6) Do you have anything to add, regarding the 2014 outlook for text analytics and your company?

In 2013 we have developed a good amount of paid pilots and proof-of-concept prototypes for clients from different areas. Clients start to understand the real potential, limitations and place of text analytics technologies. In 2014, clients are able to see the value already deployed in solutions addressing scenarios very similar to their own, which will foster a more rapid adoption of text analytics solutions.

Thank you to José! Click on the links that follow to read other Text Analytics 2014 Q&A responses: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid BanerjeeFiona McNeill of SAS, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. And click here for this year’s industry summary, Text Analytics 2014.

Text Analytics 2014: Jeff Catlin, Lexalytics

I post a yearly look at the Text Analytics industry — technologies and market developments — from the provider perspective. This year’s is Text Analytics 2014.

To gather background material for the article, and for my forth-coming report Text Analytics 2014: User Perspectives on Solutions and Providers (which should be out by late May), I interviewed a number of industry figures: Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin, Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee, Fiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. (The links behind the names will take you to the individual Q&A articles.) This article is –

JeffCatlinText Analytics 2014: Q&A with Jeff Catlin, Lexalytics

1) How has the market for text technologies, and text-analytics-reliant solutions, changed in the past year? Any surprises?

I just did a blog post on the state of the industry. The basic position is that the market/industry looks nothing like it did at the beginning of 2013. Most of the traditional players are gone, or are focusing their businesses vertically. The entire post can be seen here… http://www.lexalytics.com/lexablog

2) How have perceptions and requirements surrounding sentiment analysis evolved? Where are sentiment capabilities heading, in your view?

This is a very interesting and important question… I believe it should be heading to a simpler place where broad applicability would ease its adoption. Lexalytics is pushing hard on this idea with the concept of “Juiciness”. If you ask people to explain sentiment they really struggle, but if you said tell me what a Juicy story is and you get surprisingly similar answers. We believe this is where sentiment should go because it’s business value is mostly on the edges (very positive and very negative), and that’s what Juiciness is. Others are going totally the other direction and pouring emotional states into the mix, which is both difficult to do, and even harder to get people to agree on. This is clearly one of the areas where many people think it’s heading, but we don’t see how broad adoption can happen with such a complex idea.

3) What new features or capabilities are top of your customers’ and prospects’ wish lists for 2014? And what new abilities or solutions can we expect to see from your company in the coming year?

The push is on two fronts: one is simply to keep improving the basic features and functions, like better sentiment scoring and better ad-hoc categorization, while the other is around a couple of new features, document morphology and user intention analysis. Morphology simply means understanding the type and structure of a document. This is very important if you’re processing big pdf or word docs where knowing that a table is in fact a table, or knowing that something is a section heading is important. Intention analysis on the other hand is the ability to profile the author of a piece of text to predict that they might be planning a purchase (intent to buy), or to sell, or in another domain there might be an intention to harm.

As a company, Lexalytics is tackling both the basic improvements and the new features with a major new release, Sallience 6.0 which will be landing sometime in the second half of the year. The core text processing and grammatic parsing of the content will improve significantly, which will in turn enhance all of our core features of the engine. Additionally, this improved grammatic understanding will allow us to be the key to detecting intention, which is the big new feature in Salience 6.0

4) Mobile’s growth is only accelerating, complicating the data picture, accompanied by a desire for faster, more accurate, and more useful, situational insights delivery. How are you keeping up?

You can look at mobile from two different angles. One, it’s simply a delivery mechanism for results, and two, it’s a generator of more user insights (how are people interacting with their applications?). The first aspect of this is the most interesting to us. As a delivery mechanism, it poses unique challenges for packing as much as possible into small, responsive real estate. This is where techniques like summarization and extraction of meaning makes for some really interesting applications.

You use an interesting phrase: “situational insights delivery” – which I would take to mean “what’s relevant to me right now.” Let’s take the simplest, most common application that is still highly relevant to “situations” – email. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to scan and see, across all these emails that you don’t really want to have to parse on your iPhone, just what exactly you need to do? In Spring, 2013, we used some of our rich contextual grammar language to ship “imperative sentence” (aka “action item”) extraction. If it’s “blah, blah, blah, please send me the powerpoint from yesterday” – we’ll strip out the blah and give you the “please send me the powerpoint from yesterday.” This technology is in use with companies providing customer support services and applications, to help their reps get to the meat of what they need to do – right now.

This same thinking applies to any of a number of other sets of applications. One way of looking at the whole science of Text Analytics is extracting the essence of meaning and compacting it into a form that is the smallest possible representation of this information. “Who are the people that are involved?” ” Is this a product that I care about?” “Whoa, that’s really bad, I should get right on that.” And, with small screens, data that has been quickly compressed into units with high informational value is more useful than the original text stream.

5) Where does the greatest opportunity reside, for you as a solution provider? Internationalization? Algorithms, visualization, or other technical advances? In data integration and synthesis and expansion to new data sources? In providing the means for your customers to monetize data, or in monetizing data yourselves? In untapped business domains or in greater uptake in the domains you already serve?

As described in question 1, the industry is changing dramatically, and all vendors will have to change with it. We are progressing on 2 fronts. We are continuing to push to improve the core technology (Algorithms, Internationalization and big data) while looking for new vertical market opportunities. Our specific focus has been on mobile content applications and the backend framework to enable the rapid development and deployment of mobile content applications.

6) Do you have anything to add, regarding the 2014 outlook for text analytics and your company?

The walls are tumbling down. 2013 and 2014 are the enterprise data equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, where data that was jealously guarded by individual groups is now available enterprise-wide. What this means, paradoxically, is that there is a lot more demand for small-group analysis. The data is corporate, but the results need to be local to help a sales team, or figure out where to go with the marketing of a single product. This is a really important driver for highly accessible text analytics that doesn’t look like text analytics – where it’s just a natural part of how you go about your day. We’re pushing partnerships and technology in 2014 that can help drive this once daunting technology to where it’s functionally invisible, just like search.

Thank you to Jeff! Click on the links that follow to read other Text Analytics 2014 Q&A responses: Clarabridge CEO Sid BanerjeeFiona McNeill of SAS, Daedalus co-founder José Carlos González, and Tom Anderson of Anderson Analytics and OdinText. And click here for this year’s industry summary, Text Analytics 2014.