The Information Makers - InformationWeek
Government // Enterprise Architecture
03:14 PM

The Information Makers

There are a number of vendors vying to help businesses manage and analyze the 80-85 percent of all corporate data that's stored in unstructured and semi-structured formats -- and some of their names might surprise you.

So now we have the key insight -- new data is constantly coming forward and vying to become part of the decision-making set, while existing information may be re-molded and even discarded in parts. Within BI, semi-structured text, geographic information, and other non-traditional data resources are vying with numeric data as best indicators and predictors for decision models. Thus we arrive at the current state of information affairs -- there are a variety of tool-makers (BI vendors, database firms, information integrators and start-ups) at work on these globs of data, trying to turn unstructured and semi-structured data into more useful and actionable information.

The Information Makers

The new Information Makers are software companies that are unlocking the value of unstructured and semi-structured data. The single most influential player in the field surprisingly does not come from among search giants such as Google, Microsoft or Yahoo, nor from among BI players such as Cognos, Hyperion, SAS and SPSS. Rather, it's IBM. IBM has managed to pull together its own research labs work, along with results from universities, to deliver the Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA). UIMA is an API for processing unstructured data of all types (text, speech, video, audio, etc.) into a series of open, standardized and extensible methods.

Hadley Reynolds, of the Delphi Group, has noted that "IBM's UIMA framework proposes a new 'standard' for text [and other] analytics implementations that includes common interface definitions and a common data model. It does not include a search engine for distribution or a runtime environment in which to process and provision analytic applications to business systems ... the big news is that IBM is throwing its weight behind an infrastructure that can reduce the complexity of implementing analytic applications."

UIMA has been embedded into IBM products like WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Edition, Lotus Workplace and WebSphere Portal Server. Sixteen other vendors have signed onto using the API framework, including a cross-section of BI and content analysis players such as Attensity, ClearForest, Cognos, Inxight, SAS and SPSS. The UIMA framework, plus IBM's acquisitions of Ascential, Bowstreet and iPhrase signals that IBM is staking a large position in the emerging information-making marketplace. Of equal import is Curt Monash's idea of an ontology management system. Is UIMA the underpinning of such a system? Time will tell.

Another company that's made a big unstructured data play is Autonomy, which in November 2005 bought out search engine company Verity for a cool $500 million. This places Autonomy at the head of the business search market, according to a recent assessment from Forrester. Autonomy offers its Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) server, which integrates the latest in personalization, collaboration and retrieval features. It also has subsidiaries in the sound-processing (SoftSound), and video-interpretation fields (Virage). In very quick order, Autonomy has combined the IDOL framework with Verity's K2 advanced word-phrasing, relational taxonomies, and other classifying features. The combo may well add savvy to general search and analytics customers, while bringing new features to its forms, BPM and business search products.

2 of 5
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll