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.”
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.”
Bart 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).
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
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
There 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.
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.
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.”
Today, 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.”
As a teaser, here is the beginning of the article and Section Headings…