The Heat in The Trend Point: June 10 to June 14

Big data is usually mentioned at least a bit in The Trend Point, and last week was no exception. We noticed that many of the articles seemed to be pointing towards going beyond information retrieval.

Value must be added through the technologies of an information management, search and analytics system. An article quoted in “Big Data without Value is Just a Lot of Data” states the following:

Relying solely on the information gathered by Big Data is like watching a group of people from a relatively far distance. It’s possible to see what they’re doing while they interact with each other and engage in conversations, but it’s virtually impossible to understand why they’re holding those conversations, what are they feeling that drives their actions, what is the emotion underpinning those conversations, and most importantly, how they’ll determine the future behaviour of each individual and the group at large.

We heard a similar sentiment repeated in “Data Visualization Key to Data Understanding” with an emphasis on the end goal being easy access to actionable information. This post relayed the following:

It’s typical for an analyst who has been working on a project for more than two months to show all the frequency or statistical results with a presentation deck consisting of hundreds of slides. Stop! A few charts with great data visualization are worth 1,000 slides. Actionable visualizations such as Price or Attrition Alerts can help sales teams better engage with customers instead of analyzing a plethora of reports. The key: reports should be easy to understand as well as recommend the next actionable step for business leaders.

In another post, we saw another mumbling that big data is a misnomer better represented as big content. We noted some of the thoughts that followed — the necessity of extracting value from unstructured content — in the article “Big Data or Big Content“:

Unstructured content is often included almost as an afterthought, with extraction and enrichment applied on-the-fly, from scratch on a case-by-case basis. This undermines the potential of Big Data in several ways. It raises the cost of incorporating unstructured content while also increasing the opportunities for the introduction of inconsistencies and errors reducing the quality of the final product. Most importantly, the ad hoc approach also reduces the potential of Big Data by obscuring the extent of available raw materials.

It is refreshing to see that these several media sources are no longer discussing simply mashing up raw data from different sources. The important pieces are fusion of data (both structured and unstructured) and that comes through strong analytics that can detect what belongs to the same semantic category. Then a system like Unified Information Access from Sinequa can “fuse” results with other data, like geographic position or customer history, and others.

Jane Smith, June 19, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

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The Heat in The Trend Point: May 20 to May 24

In The Trend Point over the past week we have seen rumblings about business intelligence solutions of the past and present and the push many companies are making to deliver solutions based around an efficient and intuitive user experience.

The need for solutions with an easy to use interface is clear. Echoing this sentiment, the post “Business Intelligence Bolstered with Semantic Capabilities” quotes the following from a recent Wired article:

One of the key obstacles in bringing intelligence to BI is interpreting the vast store of data correctly and harvesting the pertinent business ‘stories.’ The end user must understand the context of their data to look for relevant events. A meaningful analytics solution helps users identify actionable business insights rather than generate more reports that lead to ‘paralysis by analysis.’

The trust developed between a user and an app is a sacred bond. The article “BI Solutions Need To Address End Users and Analysts Needs” calls for more enterprise oriented apps to be such trusted sources of information. The following information was relayed in this post:

…knowledge workers suffer not only from information overload, but also from functionality overload. End-users are not analysts. When individuals need to check the weather, they do not perform a detailed analysis of the weather patterns. They trust what the weather app says. Similarly, business users want apps that deliver them the trusted information they need to do their jobs. From this perspective, the consumerization of BI can only be driven by technologies that turn the classic enterprise BI portal into a BI app store, where end users can go and select targeted, specific apps that address their concrete questions.

In “Intelligent Business More than just Business Intelligence we saw the following summary about where BI is headed:

Business intelligence is passé. Now it’s the intelligent business, and this shift is more than a simple name flip…This flip from data-driven decisions beginning inside your company and pushed to the outside world to outside data happening in real time being the driver of your company’s inside operations means big changes for the traditional business intelligence and business analysis vendors. And, of course, those changes present opportunity for the intelligence upstarts.

Traditional BI is not propelling businesses into success as it completely misses the mark on unstructured data. However, solutions like Sinequa’s Unified Information Access extends the view of classical BI to unstructured data, thus helping to make better use of existing reports on all levels of management. Moreover, this technology utilizes nifty linguistic and semantic analysis features that produce structures in the masses of unstructured data. Now that sounds like the makings of a system for an intelligent business.

Jane Smith, May 29, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

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The Heat in the Trend Point May 6 to May 10

Many shifts in digital and technology companies are taking place currently. It is not just the major players either; though search giant Google made quite a few appearances in articles covered by The Trend Point over the past week.

As far as trends with the capability for disruption, cloud technologies are revisited in “Aryaka Infographic Offers Snapshot of Cloud.” The article reveals the current state of demand:

…the general theme we repeatedly saw is that today’s enterprise organizations have a high demand for skilled IT staff, and 24/7/365 IT coverage. A big driver of this demand is the shift of data storage, collaboration tools, networking services, and other applications to the cloud. With so much information and access now available through the cloud, organizations can work much more efficiently across multiple locations…

Search has also been a constant topic of conversation. In the consumer arena we found an interesting update in “A Look at Facebook Graph Search.” This article quotes the following evaluation from Tools Journal:

Using natural language processing (NLP), Facebook is slowly trying to bring users to a different side of the search world. Till now we were all used to enter random keywords, or at the most – writing complete sentences – on Google, but not anymore. Facebook, if successful, is set to change the course of history by being the more ‘human’ search engine. It doesn’t really compete with Google’s web search as of now but sometime in the future it will. NLP will help it distinguish itself from conventional search engines in a number of ways, while also providing comfort to its users.

Consumer trends are bleeding further into the enterprise and reports like SRCH2 Attempts Google Style Search for Enterprise” confirm this melding of the two formerly separate worlds. The article reports:

But Google isn’t the be-all and end-all for search. The newly launched startup SRCH2 doesn’t focus on standard web search, a space inhabited by Google and Bing. It’s offering a new take on ‘enterprise search. We are trying to make enterprise search more Google-like,’ said SRCH2 CEO Dev Bhatia [right] in a phone interview. ‘And make Google search available across all handsets and devices,’ he explained.

Riding on the tails of success by attaching a name to Google, any other major player or trendy concept like the cloud is an interesting move. The summation of all of these trends adds up to a focus on the user experience and on agility for the enterprise. There are those enterprise tools that emphasis efficiency, connectivity and flexibility and there are those legacy tools that do not. Unified Information Access has carved out a unique position within the larger group of forward thinking companies focused on an intuitive user experience.

Jane Smith, May 15, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

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The Heat in The Trend Point: April 22 to April 26

Enterprise search does not always get the attention it deserves but recently we have seen a crop of articles on this vital technology in The Trend Point.

An efficient and agile user experience is an incredibly sought after characteristic in enterprise search today. The article cited in “Usability of Enterprise Search Valued” shares the following opinion:

There are too many IT consoles, too many vendors — one for network management, one for help desk, one for application performance,” said Raj Sabhlok, president of ManageEngine’s parent company Zoho. Pity the poor admins who have to piece all that information together to figure out what’s going on, or worse, what went wrong. The search function promises these woebegone admins a “Google-like interface” that lets them search on a device name, for example, and get back every instance in which that name crops up.

This has in fact more to do with the search function than with a search interface: Enterprise Search is good at pulling together all relevant information on a given topic, providing the notorious 360° view. In the long run, systems administrators will not want to have a “Google-like” interface to see the 360° view of the problem domain they are working on. They will probably want a mix of dashboards, facets and lists ordered by relevance. Such interfaces will be part of Search Based Applications on top of a Unified Information Access platform (aka as Enterprise Search platform).

A strategic disconnect between IT and business leaders can often drive IT professionals to have to build the case for innovative enterprise search software. In, “Podcast Offers Tips on Building Business Case for Enterprise Search” the following recommendations were given:

*The first steps to take to show business leaders the real value that enterprise search has to offer and convince them it’s time to implement a search program;

*Key questions that project managers and business stakeholders within an organization should ask of themselves when developing a formal enterprise search technology business strategy;

*The change management aspect of putting an enterprise search program in place;

*Liewehr’s take on how to build an enterprise search team and who should be in charge of shepherding the project;

*How enterprise search technology can be used to support; and

*Best practices on how to develop an enterprise search technology review process to ensure adoption and implementation success.

Enterprise organizations of all shapes have a need for enterprise search and while none of the articles referenced here pointed to the innovative aspects of current search technologies that does not mean there are no companies enjoying an advantage because of them. The fact that there are still many mentions purely in regards to enterprise search shows that the core technology is absolutely essential. Of course, semantic capabilities and the spread across structured and unstructured data that Unified Information Access offers are the type of search technologies that will be brining home stronger ROI and the implication of business stakeholders.

Jane Smith, May 1, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

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The Heat in The Trend Point: April 15 to April 19

In The Trend Point, we have seen visualization and end user output presentation become a topic of prevalence recently.

Some sources report that visualization tools are still in the early phases of evolution. According to the article referenced in “From Raw Data to Informed Visualization“:

I would say that it is all very contingent. As we know, there are good visuals and there are bad visuals, and we’ve all seen a lot of bad visuals in PowerPoint, for example. Edward Tufte has made a pretty good living demonstrating there are really bad approaches to visuals that often occur in PowerPoints. I think we are probably a lot farther along in the world of narrative — we’ve been doing that for thousands of years — than we are in visual displays of information. I think we are really just finding our way now.

One article, “Data and Graphics Matched Through Search and Visualization,” suggested that not all data needs to be visualized, Jim Stikeleather of the Havard Business Review shares that in the end, the concept of translating the minutia of data points into something that is both interpretable and relevant is most important:

Ultimately, data visualization is about communicating an idea that will drive action. Understanding the criteria for information to provide valuable insights and the reasoning behind constructing data visualizations will help you do that with efficiency and impact.

Another article posits that visualization is the natural best method to present data. The source pointed to in “Visualization Must Be Included in Search and Analytics” tells us:

 One of the best ways to get your message across is to use a visualization to quickly draw attention to the key messages, and by presenting data visually it’s also possible to uncover surprising patterns and observations that wouldn’t be apparent from looking at stats alone … By visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.

Is data visualization not the same as simply developing and idea and sharing it in an accessible way? A new name for the basics of creating and presenting information is fine. However, as far as Sinequa‘s technology goes, it provides a much easier and more intuitive user experience for delivering real time and agile information and insights to users. It does not deliver the one picture that will hit you between the eyes and make you act near-automatically (why would we need a human to provide that reaction?). The interaction paradigm is that of “ping-pong between human and search engine. There is no need to involve complex business intelligence codes. Innovative enterprise search is the core that facilitates this kind of representation through a graphical interface.

Jane Smith, April 24, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext.

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