A new report from Hurwitz & Associates seeks to put text analytics vendors in context. In an environment where unstructured text accounts for 80 percent of the data available to companies, the market analyst and research firm has prepared a Victory Index to help companies suss out who can best help them get value from this information.

By providing the ability to analyze unstructured text, extract relevant information, and transform it into structured information, “text analytics has become a key component of a highly competitive company’s analytics arsenal,” write report authors Fern Halper, partner and principal analyst; Marcia Kaufman, COO and principal analyst; and Daniel Kirsh, senior analyst. Often, the research firm notes, companies begin to experiment with text analytics to gain insight into the unstructured text that abounds in social media, and from that move on to other use cases. For instance, they’ll discover value in mining unstructured data and using it with structured data to improve predictive models.

The Victory Index analyzes text analytics vendors for their vision and viability, grouped under a “Market Strength” heading because of these attributes’ emphasis on features like product direction, target market alignment, customer stability, and channel strategy, and validity and value, grouped under a “Customer View” heading because of these attributes’ emphasis on features like breadth and depth of functionality, including support for ontologies and taxonomies and sentiment accuracy, and customer satisfaction, customer-determined business benefits and social media metrics around customer loyalty and brand value.

The analysis was based on vendor surveys, vendor customer references, and online surveys to gain customer feedback, and social media was used. The firm also used semantic social intelligence vendor NetBase for its social media metrics to determine brand media dominance, brand loyalty and strength, and brand value.

Vendors included in the study were Attensity, Basis Technology, Clarabridge Inc., IBM (Content Analytics with Enterprise Search and SPSS), Lexalytics, Megaputer Intelligence, OpenText, Provalis Research, SAS, and TEMIS.  Of the lot, five vendors scored as Victors in Go To Market Strength: IBM, SAS, OpenText, Clarabridge and Attensity. SAS, OpenText, IBM and Clarabridge were named as Victors in Customer Experience Strength.

The report’s spotlight on trends such as sentiment analytics includes commentary about the evolving nature of the feature, with vendors like Clarabridge providing an eleven-point sentiment scale, rather than simply classifying a document or a phrase as positive, negative, or neutral, and SAS monitoring sentiment and evaluate changes over time. It also probes how vendors are also moving beyond sentiment in text analytics solutions, with features like IBM’s “birth of a trend” analysis for extracting topics – either user-defined or intelligently identified by the system from a set of data sources – that  grow or diminish over time.

And yes, Big Data does get its due in the report. It discusses how companies like Attensity and SAS are providing grid solutions and massively parallel processing techniques to help companies analyze in real time streams of unstructured data (and, in SAS’ case, structured data). “Attensity, IBM, OpenText, and SAS have embraced Hadoop and MapReduce,” the report writers point out. “It makes intuitive sense that text analytics vendors would embrace Big Data technologies since unstructured data is a big part of Big Data.”

Users interested in the full report can purchase a copy here.