Software // Information Management
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3/1/2010
08:20 PM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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My Brush With Sentiment Analysis, Open Source BI and Celebrities in Vegas

At TDWI in Vegas last week, I caught a presentation by Bill Baker (formerly of Microsoft, now of Visible Technologies) on social media and sentiment analysis... I also welcomed Pentaho to my BI Bake Off for the first time... And it wouldn't be Vegas without celebrity sightings!

Who would have thought spreading the word on BI would be so hard? I battled two storms last week to get to and from TDWI in Las Vegas, finally arriving home to two feet of snow in New Jersey.

At the TDWI Executive Summit, I caught a presentation by Bill Baker (formerly of Microsoft, now of Visible Technologies) on social media and sentiment analysis. It's such an interesting and burgeoning field. As the volume of blogs, tweets, and social media content explodes, interpreting what consumers are saying about particular brands requires a combination of technologies, including data integration, text analytics and visualization, to name a few. He rattled off a list of a dozen vendors in this space and predicted that sentiment analysis would not remain a niche segment, but instead, would be subsumed by marketing firms. One interesting metric he suggested influencers (and influencees) should track is not only how many of you read my blog, but who actually comments and links to them. I had to chuckle at this lofty idea. Heck, getting page counts out of some of the organizations I write for is an impossibilitity. Some can't do it, and some say it's highly confidential. (Intelligent Enterprise gladly provides these metrics.)Besides teaching and talking to customers at TDWI, I try to leave time to meet with new and interesting vendors. I had a first look at privately held Lyzasoft. They are intriguing in that they combine data exploration, a columnar database, analysis, and collaboration, in one product. I have only seen this degree of collaboration in Antivia, but never the combination of all of these aspects in a single product.

I was pleased to welcome open-source vendor Pentaho to my BI Bake Off for the first time. Involving a new vendor in the course is anxiety inducing. Will they show up on time? Will they only spout marketing hype and put me in the awkward position of having to put them on the spot? Or will they run over time on demos, bringing on the unnerving red buzzer? Instead, they seemed like seasoned participants, competing strongly against SAP Business Objects and IBM Cognos. Because of the way I structure these bake-offs, there is not a clear overall winner, but instead, a winner per individual capability. For some topics, attendees declared a three-way tie, reflecting an ongoing challenge in BI. As the product differences become less apparent (they are there, just less obvious), it usually forces vendors to compete on price, relationship, and service.

It wouldn't be Las Vegas if I didn't mention a celebrity sighting. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones supposedly was spotted (sorry, but I personally wouldn't recognize him!), and at dinner, former President Clinton, was seated a few tables away from me in Rao's restaurant. Rao's owner himself was there, too. But remember, I'm a Jersey Girl, so I would have been more excited by Buddy the Cake Boss.

Cindi Howson, BI ScorecardAt TDWI in Vegas last week, I caught a presentation by Bill Baker (formerly of Microsoft, now of Visible Technologies) on social media and sentiment analysis... I also welcomed Pentaho to my BI Bake Off for the first time... And it wouldn't be Vegas without celebrity sightings!

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