The New Year’s almost here, and of course that brings with it a time to reflect on what’s been and muse on what’s ahead. To that end, the Semantic Web Blog asked some industry names to share their perspectives – and concerns about some of the direction, as well. Start reading about them today, and join us again tomorrow for their insights, Part 2.
Ka-Ching: There’s Money To Be Made
One thing clearly on the practical side is that the number of new datasets that appear is just coming and coming and coming. It’s very difficult to give exact estimates on how many new data sets on the semantic web appear per week or month but it’s really high…..That data is important, data on the web is important, and handling and working with data on the web is important as a trend. There are zillions of small technical details on how this should be done, what format and do you do it with HTML or not, but the overall trend is very clear and I don’t think it can be stopped. [So] I hope we will get really serious and see new types of real applications, not only in terms of experimentation but real apps that make money in some way or other using the Linked Data that’s out there. We saw some appearing in 2010 and I hope – and have good hopes – that in 2011 we will see that. – Ivan Herman, Semantic Web Activity Lead, W3c
Semantic web applications are moving from “dreamy, knowledge bases” to practical, customer-driven projects. We’re excited about new companies leveraging online collaboration and semantic technologies to solve specific problems and make money doing it! – Nick Ducoff, CEO and co-founder, Infochimps
I think 2011 in SemWeb will see the emergence of more pragmatic solutions than we have seen in the past. This is because the benefits to end users/consumers/companies are starting to be understood, and they are now starting to demand concrete services and products to deliver those benefits. Semantic Web has been, in many ways, more a direction than a business: it’s a place we want to go, but how and when we get there is indistinct. Companies increasingly demand real-world solutions that measurably address real pain. That’s the real progress in 2010: the marketplace is starting to demand action. In 2011, we will join the dots more successfully, and more frequently. I see other SemWeb companies heading in the same direction: “Enough philosophy; let’s deliver some measurable value, now. – Mike Petit, Co-founder and CIO, Open Amplify
I see the trend towards free open source framework software products to continue well into 2011. Jena, one of the most popular Semantic Web APIs, has just beenaccepted to become an incubator project at the Apache Software Foundation. And I suspect that more organizations and individuals will be willing to pay for high quality information and maybe even ontologies in the future if the price is right. – Marco Neumann, CEO, Kona (see more in his blog here).
Fulfilling Enterprise Expectations Around the Semantic Web
I think that the M&A activity we saw this past year was a positive development – it will have significant impacts on how enterprise leaders see the semantic technology space. I am also encouraged at the work inside the enterprise: semantic tech moving out of pharma R&D into business operations; out of simple cataloging and into more sophisticated content management with major publishers; more targeted and effective use of marketing dollars in digital advertising; first steps in more improved personal information and task management cross platforms. For 2011 I think we will see increased use of semantic technologies for relevance – matching not just consumers with content, but also with the most user-appropriate method of delivery and formatting for that content.
What I want most to see is COTS software for publishing data semantically. Turnkey solutions. Simple, embedded methods for using, tagging, analyzing and manipulating data wherever it ‘lives.’ Don’t tell the average user, “There’s an API for that.” Provide them a tool in which all they have to do is paste the URI for data they want to use. Dead simple. I want us to close the gap many business people see – the gap between creating these great knowledge models and using data tagged within these classifications. There are too few solutions that contain tools for building the models, machine-tagging the content, publishing the tagged content, and querying it. The business process model we build needs to be more closely aligned with what happens in the enterprise. I want us as a community to stop selling ‘semantics’ – the word and its variants are on all kinds of marketing materials these days! We should be selling our solutions to business and consumer needs, and just happen to be doing it with semantic tools.— Christine Connors, Founder & Information Strategist, TriviumRLG
In the digital business world, companies are forced to become much more sophisticated in their methods for capturing, storing and analyzing data. True competitive advantage, however, is determined by how well companies actually leverage the insights they gain from the information they are collecting to drive business value. This is determined, in addition to the emphasis by the senior business leaders, technically by 1) how much data is available; 2) how easy is the data accessible; and 3) how much the link or relationship has been built among the data — each of which is supported by the semantic web.
Different from web 2.0, where links are for documents and collaboration is another silo (instead of the integration with where the data is from,) semantic web is able to find contextual information — e.g. metadata — around raw data and bring the data into analytics, so as to enable the instantaneous availability and interpretation of data. In fact, the metadata is already captured but just has not been exposed. Through the intelligent mash-up of the data from various sources, which can lead to a serendipitous effect, semantic web can harness the business analytics to better leverage the information companies have been collecting, from and about customers, partners, competitors and employees, to drive more business value.
While there is an increased focus on using data to generate insight and intelligence through business analytics, the trend of semantic web development in corporate business is to harness the business analytics for competitive advantage in 2011 and beyond. – Graham G. Rong, Chair, MIT Sloan CIO Symposium
One development I’m hoping for — related to an uptake obstacle — is a wider understanding that the scope and benefits of semantic technologies go far beyond the Web. I do think that’s happening as people are seeing the ROI delivered by semantics.
Semantic technologies are powering sentiment analysis, information extraction that supports “question answering” systems, and dynamic data integration — operating on both online and enterprise information sources — for trending applications in customer experience, media and publishing, online commerce, intelligence, and more.
These technologies will continue to semanticize the Web and also enterprise computing — look especially for new video/audio/image analysis abilities in 2011 — even while the Semantic Web, as a web, will remain largely a pipe dream. –Seth Grimes, founder, Alta Plana
Last year I said that, regarding enterprise web, the velocity of extension to mobile devices will spike. Apple is pushing hard of course, and making some progress in healthcare with iPad — guess the question is to what extent they will embrace the web and non-proprietary languages moving forward. I was surprised by the RIM Black Pad and web server interface, which opens up a lot of opportunity for the semantic web and how the enterprise works with the web. So at least the foundation for mobile…is substantially improved.
Last year I also said that enterprise software will begin a long transformative conversion to adaptive semantic systems; the big question being to what extent it’s organic. Well, we haven’t seen much change here, other than it is a long road. SAP seems to be taking more notice, but not much activity– haven’t seen much from the massive EU investment yet in terms of commercialization and economic activity. Lots of money spent, not much ROI. – Mark Montgomery, CEO, Kyield
About Those Customer Experiences…
In 2010, while pure play social media monitoring and analysis was exploding across the scene, a small but rapidly growing set of Fortune 1000 companies began to recognize that multichannel customer analytics, from a wide variety of text- based sources (online, offline, call center, and community/survey), provided a much fuller, much more accurate view of customer emotion, customer intent, and loyalty than single source solutions. In 2011 I expect to see solutions that fuse multiple channels of customer interaction, engagement, and support to be a dominant growth area for semantic analysis. Also in 2011:
- Expect to see a merging of sentiment/text analytics and predictive analytics technology stacks as vendors move beyond looking at the past, or present, and move into the realm of identifying predictors of positive outcomes in a campaign, identifying and tracking the drivers of loyalty using advanced predictive models, and using predictive techniques to help prioritize and manage changes to customer experiences in a variety of industries including financial services, hospitality, retail, and healthcare industries.
- Expect to see North American vendors to add European, Latin American and Asian language support to their offerings, and expect to see applications be deployed across multiple users worldwide using localized application interfaces and analytics. We’re living in a multicultural world, as a reflection of that, voices on the web come in all shapes, sizes, colors and languages, we need to be able to listen to them.
- Expect in 2011 semantic analysis applications will be offered to the individual analyst and information worker though more customizable, more self-service interfaces and functionality. In short, expect the solution space to scale the enterprise while also giving more users across an organization direct access to the voice of the customer, empowering them to take action on what they hear.
- Expect to see [now that, through robust APIs and frameworks, text analysis is increasingly an integrated part of operational systems] – CRM, Call Center, Campaign Automation, and Social Media engagement spaces – [these operationally integrated solutions will] come on line for many early adopters, and expect to see insights automatically driving recommendations, actions, or process improvements into operational systems. In other words, you’ll see the voice of the customer shared across different systems that don’t today “speak” to each other, and the recommendations will automatically be translated so that different parts of an organization can take action and directly affect the customer experience. – Sid Bannerjee, CEO, Clarabridge
Probable top developments:
1. Real-time response to social media: Big companies spent the latter part of 2010 defining the strategy [for listening to customers and analyzing], and in 2011 they will implement the processes and the tools for [social media] response and engagement.
2. Making Voice Of the Customer a key part of your business processes: Wouldn’t it be amazing if a product person in a company trying to figure out how to improve a product, add a new feature, or what to work on next, could ask his customers directly? Wouldn’t it be even more amazing if it were a part of a company’s business process for him/her to do so? Could a company really drive its marketing messages, new product introductions, product innovations, and service processes based on what customers want? Yes!…The proliferation of customer feedback fueled by social media, but also – growing not declining – in email, chat and other channels, combined with the growth in VoC analytics adoption by enterprises, immediately creates an important convergence of possibilities. The need to create the right business processes to take action on this customer data has never been more important – and enterprises are starting to realize this. … 2011 is the year companies will not just talk about listening to customer feedback and monitoring social media, they will engage and they will need the business processes in place to support that engagement. — Michelle de Haaff, CMO, Attensity
Photo credit: Flickr/bryangeek