2011 SemTech West

Pragmatech’s CTRL Semantic Engine Puts The Focus On Key Topics

At the Semantic Web Business and Technology Conference in San Francisco in 2011, a company called Pragmatech presented a prototype of its CTRL semantic engine. Now, a little more than a year later, it’s launching products and services, as well as an API, for business and general public use.

The Daily Star, an English language news publication in the Middle East, is one of the early adopters of CTRL for its web site. The semantic technology powers the news site’s surfacing of topically related stories, summaries of an article, and entities extracted from it. Soon, readers also will be able to follow topics related to articles as well.

“Many semantic technologies do entity extraction at a shallow level,” says Dr. Walid Saba, who leads the R&D team at Pragmatech. “We go deeper.” As an example, readers of The Daily Star wanting to explore stories by following a key topic – a particular world figure as a diplomat, rather than in his or her other past role as a businessperson, for instance – will be directed to stories specific to that. Within the first couple of weeks of deployment, the news site more than tripled user engagement, Saba says.

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Financial Services Industry Sees Operational Value in FIBO

Back in March, The Semantic Web Blog wrote an article about FIBO, the Financial Industry Business Ontology that’s on its way to being an Object Management Group series of standards. There, we explored its value as an open semantic standard that can be used by financial institutions and industry regulators, both to support conformance to federal regulatory reporting requirements and for internal business processes and risk analysis.

To continue the discussion about the operational value of FIBO, we recently spoke with key participants developing the standard: David Newman, Strategic Planning Manager, Vice President, Enterprise Architecture, Wells Fargo Bank, who is lead of the industry team collaborating on semantics OTC (over-the-counter) derivatives proof-of-concept, and Mike Atkin, managing director at the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Council, where FIBO was born and is included as content of EDM’s Semantics Repository.

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Word to Semantic Web Startups: The JOBS Act Is On

If there’s one thing the Semantic Web arena is full of, it is start-ups. In fact, the slew of creative and innovative ideas out there coming from young companies is one of the reasons for the first Start-Up Competition to be held at the Semantic Tech & Business conference in San Francisco this June.

If you fit the bill and haven’t checked out this opportunity, you should, right this way. Are more opportunities waiting in the wings for entrepreneurs? Yesterday Congress sent the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business) Act bill to President Obama for his signature. Once he signs it – and the White House has said that is the intention – entrepreneurs no longer will be prohibited from advertising their intentions to raise funds for their companies to investors, because the Act abolishes the general solicitation ban. As reported by The Washington Post, “the bill also establishes a framework for crowdfunding — which enables small companies to solicit equity capital from myriad small-dollar investors.”

What’s the reaction from some members of the Semantic Web community?

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Schema.org Workshop – A Path Forward

photo of schema-org leadership panel at workshop

schema.org Leadership Panel; L-to-R: Michael O'Connor (Microsoft), John Giannandrea (Google), Charlie Jiang (Microsoft), Kavi Goel (Google), R.V. Guha (Google), Steve MacBeth (Microsoft), Gaurav Mishra (Yahoo), Peter Mika (Yahoo)

A room full of interested parties gathered in Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus yesterday to discuss Schema.org, its implications on existing vocabularies, syntaxes, and projects, and how best to move forward with what has admittedly been a bumpy road.

Schema.org, you may recall, is the vocabulary for structured data markup that was released by Google, Microsoft, and Bing on June 2 of this year.  The schema.org website states, “A shared markup vocabulary makes easier for webmasters to decide on a markup schema and get the maximum benefit for their efforts. So, in the spirit of sitemaps.org, Bing, Google and Yahoo! have come together to provide a shared collection of schemas that webmasters can use.”  (For more history about the roll-out and initial reactions to it, here’s a summary.)

Yesterday was the first time since the Semantic Technology & Business Conference in San Francisco that community members have gathered face-to-face to discuss Schema.org in an open forum. It was a full agenda with plenty of opportunity for debate and discussion.

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Hollywood Star Sighting: Blingalytics

At the SemTech San Francisco 2011 conference, Chris Testa of Adly spoke about a platform they used internally for Business Intelligenge analytics. There was great interest from the audience, and this week, Adly announced the release of “Blingalytics” as free, open-source software. While not explicitly semantic itself, Blingalytics works WITH Adly’s semantic system, serving as the underlying billing and business intelligence infrastructure they use to manage the business. I caught up with the Adly team (Arnie Gullov-Singh, CEO; Chris Testa, Director, Engineering; and Krista Thomas, VP Marketing) to hear more about the platform.

Q: So what is Blingalytics?

A: Simply put, Blingalytics is the first and only open source business intelligence platform in Python.  The Blingalytics Python package makes it easy to slice and dice your business KPIs, no matter what data you’re looking at: retweets, click-through rates, net revenue, etc.

Blingalytics takes care of the gritty details of optimally crunching the numbers, so that you can jump straight to defining your view into your business stats and performance analytics.

Blingalytics was built by Chris Testa and Jeff Schenck

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Just because we can…

Semantic technologies of various flavours have the potential to discover connections and enable insights that are powerful, valuable, intriguing, insightful, and surprising. However, as with so many technologies, there’s a flip side. As tools grow more capable and data sets continue to blossom, it becomes ever more likely that the segmented lives of web users — whether public and private, law-abiding and nefarious, or respectable and risqué — will be joined up without our explicit consent. As developers who see the best in people build ever-richer tools, technology companies that cannot — or will not — understand the value of the ageing legal system’s checks and balances continue to use them in pushing the boundaries of what society considers to be acceptable. There are already scare stories, and as the reality becomes more capable, those scare stories will undoubtedly become increasingly terrifying. Some of them may even turn out to be true. But it’s not necessary to believe the full Orwellian horror of a Mountain View search engine (or a Menlo Park social network) that knows everything about you, and acts upon that knowledge. Even in the smaller every-day injections of semantic smarts into business processes, there are things that should perhaps make us sit up and take note. Just because semantic technologies can discover patterns in customer behaviour, doesn’t mean we should necessarily act upon them too soon.

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From Business As Usual to Knowledge-Driven Architecture – Part IV

[Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome Yefim “Jeff” Zhuk of Sallie Mae as he presents a series on Knowledge-Driven Architecture. This series follows up the author’s presentation at the recent international 2011 Semantic Technology Conference San Francisco and further expands on the subject of integrated software and knowledge engineering, originally described by Mr. Zhuk in the book “Integration-ready Architecture and Design.” Part I | Part II | Part III]

Part IV – Creating a semantically rich service environment locally and across industry

Part III focused on the Conversational Semantic Decision Support (CSDS) and related Use Cases.

This example can be expanded from requirements to design and development phases, including hints on service names and application messages. Standards, recommendations and best practices offered by W3C [6] can serve as the base for conversational scripts, which would help a SME, (in this case, a software developer) to successfully implement them and create a truly semantically rich SOA environment.
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From Business As Usual to Knowledge-Driven Architecture – Part III

[Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome Yefim “Jeff” Zhuk of Sallie Mae as he presents a series on Knowledge-Driven Architecture. This series follows up the author’s presentation at the recent international 2011 Semantic Technology Conference San Francisco and further expands on the subject of integrated software and knowledge engineering, originally described by Mr. Zhuk in the book “Integration-ready Architecture and Design.” Part I | Part II | Part IV]

Part III - Transitioning From “What” to “How” and explaining Conversational Semantic Decision Support (CSDS) with Use Cases

a)      Formalization of Business Rules

One of the current development trends is a shift to rule-based applications. As more flexible and quickly adaptive to business changes, rule-based applications live a longer life and provide higher return on investment.

Conversational semantic decision support can be very helpful in the process of collecting and formalizing the rules [5]. CSDS will make sure that the rules are expressed in the known terms and the rules criteria are directly tied to existing data.
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From Business As Usual to Knowledge-Driven Architecture – Part II

[Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome Yefim “Jeff” Zhuk of Sallie Mae as he presents a series on Knowledge-Driven Architecture. This series follows up the author’s presentation at the recent international 2011 Semantic Technology Conference San Francisco and further expands on the subject of integrated software and knowledge engineering, originally described by Mr. Zhuk in the book “Integration-ready Architecture and Design.” Part I | Part III | Part IV]

Part II

Looking for a black cat in a dark room

In the corporate world, each clerk and department has their own knowledge compartment.

Prepared for consumption by an author or a single group, information is based on “tribal knowledge” assumptions and naturally has multiple gaps, especially for other groups and departments. In increasingly interconnected businesses, informational gaps lead to productivity loss.

Compartmentalized information is usually hidden and locked inside complex tools. No surprise that we spend from 30 to 50% time looking for information. Not because we love searching… It’s just hard to find something that was hidden (not intentionally!) and especially something that has never been captured.

We often find ourselves looking for a black cat in a dark room.
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From Business As Usual to Knowledge-Driven Architecture – Part I

[Editor’s Note: This week, we welcome Yefim “Jeff” Zhuk of Sallie Mae as he presents a series on Knowledge-Driven Architecture. This series follows up the author’s presentation at the recent international 2011 Semantic Technology Conference San Francisco and further expands on the subject of integrated software and knowledge engineering, originally described by Mr. Zhuk in the book “Integration-ready Architecture and Design.”]

Business and technical people don’t always understand each other. (That might be an understatement.)

While technology speaks XML and Web Services, business prefers natural language.

Translation from business to technology is called the development process.

“Cooking” an application involves several translation layers and teams:

cooking analogy for development process

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