Commercial text analytics worldwide is dominated by US, UK, and Canadian companies, despite the presence of many exceptional academic and research centers in Europe and Asia. Correlate market successes not only with English-language capabilities, but also with minimal government interference in business development. I’m referring to two sorts of interference. The tech sector in eurozone countries is often over-reliant on governmental research funding, and it is hampered by business and employment rules that discourage investment and growth. Where these inhibitors are less a factor — for text analytics, notably in Singapore, Scandinavia, and Israel — commercialized text analytics thrives.
Eurozone entrepreneurs — such as Spain’s DAEDALUS — aim similarly to grow via a commercial-markets focus and by bridging quickly, even while still small, to the Anglophone market, particularly to the US. (The euro’s current weakness supports this latter choice.)
This point emerges from a quick Q&A I recently did with José Carlos González. José founded DAEDALUS in 1998 as a spin-out of work at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, where he is a professor, and other academic research. I interviewed him for last year’s Text Analytics 2014 story. This year’s Q&A, below, was in support of my Text Analytics 2015 report on technology and market developments
My interview with José Carlos González —
Q1) What was new and interesting, for your company and industry as a whole, and for the market, in 2014?
Through the course of 2014, we have seen a burst of interest in text analytics solutions from very different industries. Niche opportunities have appeared everywhere, giving birth to a cohort of new players (startups) with integration abilities working on top of ad-hoc or general-purpose (open or inexpensive) text analytics tools.
Consolidated players, which have been delivering text analytics solutions for years (lately in form of APIs), face the “breadth vs depth” dilemma. The challenge of developing, marketing and selling vertical solutions for specific industries has lead some companies to focus on niche markets quite successfully.
Q2) And technology angles? What approaches have advanced and what has been over-hyped?
The capability of companies to adapt general purpose semantic models to a particular industry or company in a fast and inexpensive way has been essential in 2014, to speed up the adoption of text analytics solutions.
Regarding deep learning or general purpose artificial intelligence approaches, they show slow progress beyond the research arena.
Q3) What should we expect from your company and from the industry in 2015?
Voice of the Customer (VoC) analytics — and in general, all the movement around customer experience — will continue being the most important driver for the text analytics market.
The challenge for the years to come will consist in providing high-value, actionable insights to our clients. These insights should be integrated with CRM systems to be treated along with structured information, in order to fully exploit the value of data about clients in the hands of companies. Privacy concerns and the difficulties to link social identities with real persons or companies, will be still a barrier for more exploitable results.
Q4) Any other remarks, concerning text analytics?
Regarding the European scene, the situation in 2015 is worse than ever. The Digital Single Market, one of the 10 priorities of the new European Commission, seems a kind of chimera — wished for but elusive — for companies providing digital products or services.
The new Value Added Tax (VAT) regulation, in force since January 2015, compels companies to charge VAT in the country of the buyer instead of the seller, to obtain different evidences about customer nationality and to store a large amount of data for years. These regulations, intended to prevent internet giants from avoiding paying VAT, is in fact going to make complying with VAT so difficult that the only way to sell e-products will be to sell via large platforms. Thus, small European digital companies are suffering an additional burden and higher business expenses, while the monopoly of US online platforms is reinforced. The road to hell is paved with good intentions!
I thank José for this interview and will close with a discloser and an invitation: DAEDALUS, in the guise of the company’s MeaningCloud on-demand Web service (API), is a sponsor of the 2015 Sentiment Analysis Symposium, which I organize, taking place July 15-16, 2015 in New York. If you’re concerned with the business value of opinion, emotion, and intent, in social and enterprise text, join us at the symposium!
And finally, an extra: Video of DAEDALUS’s Antonio Matarranz, presenting on Voice of the Customer in the Financial Services Industry at the 2014 Sentiment Analysis Symposium.