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.

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