Enterprise Semantics

Elephant Hunting for Pygmies: How To Introduce Big Data and Linked Data to Your Company

[Editor's Note: This guest post was provided by Tom Ilube, Managing Director, Callcredit Consumer Markets, and includes additional contributions from Rob Styles, Principal Technical Consultant, Callcredit)]

Photo of African Elephant

If you intend to introduce Big Data and Linked Data approaches to your company you may wish to learn from the way pygmies hunt elephants.

Forty years ago my father took me on safari in remote parts of Kenya. We ended up slightly off the beaten track, in a pygmy village. They were very welcoming and one evening as we sat around chatting some of the young men told us how they hunt elephants. Pygmies, I am reliably informed, approach this formidable task in three easy steps.

Step 1: A team of two pygmies roll around in elephant dung, so that they can sneak up on said elephant without being detected;

Step 2: Pygmy A (let us call him “Joe”) climbs on Pygmy B’s (“Fred”) shoulders, underneath the elephant (“Nelly”). Joe uses a short, sharp spear to attack the soft underbelly and aim directly for Nelly’s heart. Then they run. Fast.

Step 3: Joe and Fred return to the village, carrying an ear each, and are received as heroes as the whole village feasts for weeks.

Mind you, if Joe and Fred return covered in dung and without ears then they are given pretty short shrift by their fellow village, let me tell you! There is also the minor risk of being stomped on. But otherwise, it’s a foolproof plan.

This is precisely the approach that Rob Styles (Pygmy A) and I (Pygmy B) are taking in introducing Big Data concepts at Callcredit, the UK credit reference agency. Well, perhaps not precisely. But let’s see how far I can push this ridiculous analogy.

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Pfizer Moves Semantic Tech Forward, Helping Business Respond To Cost Pressures And Realize Efficiency Gains

A couple of years back, The Semantic Web Blog visited with Vijay Bulusu to gain some insight into how pharma giant Pfizer Inc. was moving forward with semantic technology (see article here). At last week’s Semantic Technology and Business Conference in New York City, Bulusu, director, informatics and innovation at Pfizer, provided additional perspective on the issue – first, during the presentation on Using Linked Semantic Data in Biomedical Research and Pharmaceuticals (see coverage of that here), and then in a follow-up conversation.

A struggle for pharma companies, Bulusu notes, sits in driving standards for data that exists across system silos, so it is broadly applicable across groups. A transaction like creating a batch of materials, doing analytical testing on it and enabling clinical trial releases is the work of multiple groups of people in departments like R&D entering data across different systems.

The foundational layer needed to support data aggregation in a persistent graph semantic database and visualization with collaborative, semantic knowledge maps “is all about data already in transactional, silo’d systems,” Bulusu says. “We want to make sure that across those systems, key data is entered consistently for entities.” That means limiting them to selecting via a drop-down list from a vocabulary that is consistently managed and published from a single source to all these transaction systems, so the same entity is called by the same name as it traverses systems to support analytics and other requirements. That, he says, “is where we directly impact the day-to-day operational work of users.”

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Pharma Becoming Ever-Bigger Fan of Semantic Technology

Courtesy: Flickr/epSos.de

At the Semantic Technology and Business Conference in New York City last week, attendees got to hear a lot about how semantic technology is influencing various sectors, such as government (see our stories here and here) and media (see this article and this one). Another prominent one on display: pharmaceuticals.

Pharma, for example, was the driving use case for the update to Callimachus that focuses on helping users deal with data that’s external to the framework for data-driven applications, David Wood, CTO of Callimachus project sponsor 3 Round Stones, told The Semantic Web Blog at the event. (To learn more about the update, see our story here.)

A session on Tuesday last week saw Lee Feigenbaum, vp of marketing at Cambridge Semantics, which makes the Anzo express and Anzo Enterprise solutions,  put forth a case for semantic tech as being key to data integration and interoperability in the sector, as well. “Can semantic web technologies break down enterprise data silos just as they break down document silos on the web?” he said. “The answer to the question is, “Of course.” Compared to the web, the data silo challenges of even the largest pharmaceuticals organization is relatively minor.”

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Keynote Video and Updates from the Amsterdam Fire Department

image of Bart van Leeuwen and fellow fire fighters in front of burning buildingBart van Leeuwen, software executive (netage.nl) and firefighter (Amsterdam Fire Department), has a story of practical application of Semantic Web technologies that we have covered before here at SemanticWeb.com and in our Semantic Technology & Business Conference series. Below, we offer the video of the keynote address he delivered in June at the San Francisco event.

His, like many of the most successful Semantic Web case studies, is a story of iterative growth and agile development, a mixing of technical and cultural challenges and solutions. Even since Bart’s keynote at the recent London SemTechBiz conference, there have been developments, and we caught up with him to hear the latest (video after the jump).

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Semantic Tech Development: The European Edge

A blogger from the IKS Project recently wrote a response to our own Jennifer Zaino’s article, “On What Shores Will Semantic Tech Be Better Commercialized?” The author opined, “EU funded projects like LOD2 and IKS do represent a significant edge for companies that are ready to take advantage of Big Data; the problem is… how? These large European-funded projects had contributed with a great wealth of open-source technologies but, we know from the experience acquired in the last two years, that implementation costs are a blocking point for small to medium enterprises. Now rather than getting lost in the hidden traps of Semantic Tech, let’s get an overview of what can be really done to increase the competitiveness of European companies and why it is worth our attention.” Read more

Insights from the SemTechBiz Conference – UK

The Semantic Technology and Business Conference – UK took place in London last week at the Millennium Goucester Hotel, and a number of themes emerged from the two-day event. A few of the sessions are highlighted below, but first, let us turn to some of the attendees to share some of their favorite insights and takeaways:

Public Sector Semantics

Professor Nigel ShadboltThere was a lot of interest in the Public Sector work. One of the presentations that highlighted the Open Data movement was Nigel Shadbolt‘s Keynote presentation about the recently launched Open Data Institute. We have covered the ODI here, and Professor Shadbolt shared some exciting insights and perspectives on the Open Data economy. In his presentation, he referred to a report on which he collaborated that was published by Deloitte Analytics. This free white paper is available for download.

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SemanticWeb.com “Innovation Spotlight” Interview with Andreas Blumauer, CEO of Semantic Web Company

If you would like your company to be considered for an interview please email editor[ at ]semanticweb[ dot ]com.

In this segment of our “Innovation Spotlight” we spoke with Andreas Blumauer, the CEO of  Semantic Web Company. Semantic Web Company is headquartered in Vienna, Austria and their software extracts meaning from big data using linked data technologies. In this interview Andreas describes some of the their core products to us in more detail.

Sean: Hi Andreas. Can you give us a little background on your company? When did you get started in the Semantic Web?

Andreas: As an offspring of a ‘typical’ web agency from the early days of the internet, we became a specialized provider in 2004: The ‘Semantic Web School’ focused on research, consulting and training in the area of the semantic web. We learned quickly how the idea of a ‘semantic web’ was able to trigger a lot of great project visions but also, that most of the tools from the early days of the semantic web were rather scary for enterprises. In 2007 we experienced that information professionals began to search for grown-up semantic web solutions to improve their information infrastructure. We were excited that ‘our’ main topics obviously began to play a role in the development of IT-strategies in many organizations. We refocused on the development of software and renamed our company.

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The Semantic Link – September, 2012

Paul Miller, Bernadette Hyland, Ivan Herman, Eric Hoffer, Andraz Tori, Peter Brown, Christine Connors, Eric Franzon

On Friday, September 15, a group of Semantic Technology thought leaders from around the globe met with their host and colleague, Paul Miller, for the latest installment of the Semantic Link, a monthly podcast covering the world of Semantic Technologies. This episode includes a discussion about Big Data and Semantics, as well as some discussion of general trends in the Semantic Technology space.
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Ask the Author – IT of the Future: Semantic Cloud Architecture

Image of the paper cover - I.T. of the Future: Semantic Cloud ArchitectureRecently, we published Yefim “Jeff” Zhuk’s article, “IT of the Future: Semantic Cloud Architecture.” The paper has been a very popular free download (available here).

One of the readers, Lev Gorodinski (CTO, EPaySpot), approached Jeff directly with some questions and the two engaged in a conversation filled with insights that they wanted to share with our readers. They are kindly allowing us to republish the thread in its entirety.

Photo of Lev GorodinskiLev Gorodinski: I’ve read the article and have some bigger picture questions and comments which likely warrant several discussions. Overall, I am interested in methodologies which aim to bridge the gap between knowledge and its technical manifestation and am therefore interested in the subject matter.

The term “sandbox” in BASE may create the impression that it isn’t a production level system. I think that both the goal of BASE to “Decrease the number of manual operations required for business changes” and its notion of a “playground” are essential to making it ready for production. This will allow an agile and iterative development and exploration process.

Photo of Jeff ZhukJeff Zhuk: The primary purpose is setting a common ground where business analysts and developers can collaborate on real business tasks. For some companies this ground can serve in production and other companies might feel more comfortable to use it as a playground for safe development and testing before copying to production. The role of the playground will be growing without growing maintenance cost.
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IT of the Future: Semantic Cloud Architecture

In July of 2011, we published a series of articles, “From Business as Usual to Knowledge-Driven Architecture” by Yefim “Jeff” Zhuk. The series outlined enterprise IT of the future with integrated software and knowledge engineering, further expanding on ideas originally described in the book “Integration-ready Architecture and Design.”

Image of the paper cover - I.T. of the Future: Semantic Cloud ArchitectureToday, we are pleased to offer Jeff’s latest article as a 27-page PDF file. In this new article, he focuses on the process of transitioning from IT architectures of today to Semantic Cloud Architecture with very practical “baby steps” — steps which require minimum upfront investment. The emphasis of this article is on collaborative work of business and enterprise architects with the Business Architecture Sandbox for Enterprise, (BASE) that was demonstrated at the 2012 Semantic Tech and Business Conference –San Francisco.

Zhuk says, “The discussed approach is gradually shifting the focus of IT from technology to information by standardizing business event processing, placing the seeds of semantic technology in the current business ground, and establishing a self-sustaining process of transformation to semantic cloud architecture. The article provides the context and speaks technical details for this transition.”

Read/Download the full paper (registration required)

As a teaser, here is the beginning of the article and Section Headings…

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