Nexidia: Speech Technology

August 26, 2008

Nexidia, a developer of audio search and speech analytics solutions, received a “market leader” award from Speech Technology magazine.

Nexidia also released a new version of the company’s Enterprise Speech Intelligence (ESI) 7.0. The company also released a library of speech analytics search routines. These software components will, according to the company, speed deployment of the Nexidia system.

The new release includes enhanced reporting and analysis tools. Version 7.0 also features improved performance and scaling. ESI can be integrated directly with all major call recording platforms, these solutions are available to every contact center or similar business applications no matter which call recording in use.

You can get more information about Nexidia here. . Information about the code libraries is here. Information about ESI 7.0 is here.

Stephen Arnold, August 26, 2008

Computerworld: Google’s Not Hot

August 26, 2008

The Computerworld story surprised me. Preston Gralla, a really big name in tech journalism, wrote an opinion piece called “Why Google Has Lost Its Mojo — And Why You Should Care”. You can read the full text of this important essay here. The most important point in Mr. Gralla’s write up is the title. It says it clear: Google has no spice, zing, magic, and voodoo. In Gulla, Google’s medicine men have lost “it”.

Consider this statement:

So why do I think it’s lost its mojo? Let’s start with the way it treats its employees. Google’s largesse has been legendary — free food, liberal maternity and parental leave, on-site massages, fitness classes and even oil changes. But according to a recent New York Times article, those days may be gone.

Once employees sense a downshift, human resources professionals have to scramble.

I posted an innocuous story about the Amtrak passenger service selecting Autonomy. The outfit fighting for this project was Google. Google lost this high profile account. Google has other challenges as well, including legal hassles. Some big and some small. But these take time to address. Google’s technology is showing some flaws. Ads still works, but other functions are buggy. Google has started an investment branch; its foundation is pushing “green” technology. Former employees are not surfing on Google. Some like Cuil.com are competing. The fact that those Xooglers rolled out a tasty confection before it was complete does little to polish the reputation of Google and its Xooglers. For me, the fact that Computerworld is souring on Google is news. Amazing turn of events for Googzilla.

Stephen Arnold, August 26, 2008

nGenera Bakes in Autonomy Search

August 26, 2008

Just when Microsoft makes search “free”, along comes Autonomy and proves that licensing deals are alive and well. According to CRM Buyer, nGenera inked an original equipment manufacturing deal with Autonomy. What’s interesting is that it’s not “search”. The deal is for Web 2.0 technology for search. The application is not finding. The application is knowledge management. I have to be up front and admit that I don’t know what knowledge is. Absent that understanding, I’m baffled at how to manage what I don’t grasp. Nevertheless, the deal is done.

Let’s sort out who is who in this deal. Talisma, according to CRM Buyer, “OEM’ed the Autonomy search engine.” An Autonomy reseller told me that Autonomy’s search engine no longer needs training, and it now shares many features with “appliance like” search systems from Google and Thunderstone, among others. You can get more information about Talisma here. The Talisma catchphrase is “Software that enables an exceptional online customer experience.”

nGenera bought Talisma in May 2008. nGenera’s Steve Papermaster is reported as having said at the time of the deal:

The future of innovation is customer co-creation: talking directly to customers, listening to them, learning from them. We’re taking content and processes from customer interaction software and mashing that with Web 2.0 collaboration tools to help companies discover brilliant new product ideas inspired by their own customers. Source: Paul Greenberg.

nGenera now has its own customer support product line to complement its other management consulting type software offerings. nGenera is a cloud computing – Web 2.0 services firm. The company has a remarkable “manifesto” here that sets forth its vision for organizational operations. One idea in the manifest is that organizations must move from knowledge management” to what the company calls “content collaboration and collective intelligence”. Since I don’t know what “knowledge management” means, I am in the dark about information operations that reach beyond.  The manifesto also advocates moving from “traditional information technology” to “a next generation enterprise platform.”  Again my experience is not much help to me in figuring out what nGenera’s services will deliver. The company has its fingers in many different pies. Each pie is stuffed with Web 2.0 goodness and goodies like “leveraging institutional memory,” “mass collaboration”, “business analytics”, and “transformational change”. These notions are too sophisticated for this addled goose.

talisma knowledgebase

The Talisma Knowledgebase which may now incorporate Autonomy technology.

The purchase of Talisma adds what nGenera describes here as:

The leading Customer Interaction Management (CIM) software solution provider enabling organizations globally to deliver an exceptional online customer experience while dramatically increasing their efficiency and effectiveness.  Talisma’s customers include Aetna, AOL, Canon, Citibank, Comcast, Dell, Ford, University of Notre Dame, Microsoft, Pitney Bowes, Siemens, Sony, and Sprint.  Talisma is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, and has offices located across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.

To sum up, nGenera bought Talisma in May 2008. Talisma inked a deal for Autonomy’s search and content processing technology. Autonomy, therefore, “snaps in” to the broader range of nGenera’s Web 2.0 services. Autonomy joins Atlassian Confluence as a technology provider to nGenera.  I must admit these names leave my head spinning.

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Google: Times, They Are Changing

August 25, 2008

Valley Wag reports that some perquisites at Google are going the way of the dodo. The story “Google’s Food Perks on the Chopping Block” here will be trimmed.  On Sunday, August 25, 2008, the San Jose Mercury News pointed out here that Google has yet to make its new ventures pay off. Add to this the increasing criticism of Google and it’s clear that the high-flying company is undergoing change. Xooglers, once viewed as sure bets, have also stumbled; for example, the Cuil.com search system which débuted to intense interest has flagged. In short, Google’s magic touch seems to be waning. Will Tony Bennett sing again in the Google cafeteria? He may be replaced with a busker from the Montgomery BART entrance. Cheaper for sure. What other changes are afoot? I will try to keep a running list.

Stephen Arnold, August 26, 2008

How Yahoo Will Catch Google in Search

August 25, 2008

Here’s an interview you must read. On August 25, 2008, the Financial Express (India) here published an interview with Yahoo’s super wizard, Prabhakar Raghavan. Dr. Raghavan is the head of research at Yahoo, a Stanford professor, and a highly regarded expert in search, database, and associated technologies. He’s even the editor of computer science and mathematics journals. A fellow like this can leap over Google’s headquarters and poke out Googzilla’s right eye. The interview, conducted by Pragati Verma, provides a remarkable look inside the plans Yahoo has to regain control of Web search.

There were a number of interesting factoids that caught my attention in this interview. Let me highlight a few.

First, Yahoo insists that the cost of launching Web search is $300 million. Dr. Raghavan, who is an expert in things mathematical, said:

Becoming a serious search player requires a massive capital investment of about $300 million. We are trying to remove all barriers to entry for software developers, who have ideas about how to improve search.

The idea is to make it easy for a start up to tap into the Yahoo Web index and create new services. The question nagging at me is, “If Web search is $300 million, why hasn’t Yahoo made more progress?” I use Yahoo once in a while, but I find that its results are not useful to me. When I search Yahoo stores, I have a heck of a time finding what I need. What’s Yahoo been doing since 1998? Answer: losing market share to Google and spending a heck of a lot more than a paltry $300 million losing ground.

Second, Google can lose share to search start ups. Dr. Raghavan said:

According to comScore data, Google had a 62% share of the US search market in May, while we had 21% and MSN 9%. Our prediction models suggest that Google could lose a big chunk of its market share, as BOSS partners and players come in.

My question is, “Since Google is vulnerable, why haven’t other search systems with funding made any headway; for example, Microsoft?” The notion that lots of little mosquitos can hobble Googzilla is not supported by Yahoo’s many search efforts. These range from Mindset to InQuira, from Flickr search to the deal with IBM, etc. Chatter and projections aside, Google’s share is increasing, and I don’t see much zing from the services using Yahoo index so far.

Finally, people don’t want to search. I agree. There is a growing body of evidence that key word search is generally a hassle. Dr. Raghavan said:

Users don’t really want to search. They want to spend time on their work, personal lives and entertainment. They come to search engines only to get their tasks done. We will move search to this new paradigm of getting the task done….

My question is, “How is Yahoo with its diffused search efforts, its jumble of technologies, and its inability to make revenue progress without a deal from Google doing to reverse its trajectory?” I wish Yahoo good luck, but the company has not had much success in the last year or so.

Yahoo lost its way as a directory, as a search system, and as a portal. I will wait to see how Yahoo can turn its “pushcart full of odds and ends” into a Formula One racer.

Stephen Arnold, August 25, 2008

Single Page Format

SharePoint and SQLServer: Designer or Visual Studio 2008

August 25, 2008

We can’t escape SharePoint. We also can’t escape SQLServer. The question arose recently about Designer (a light weight, graphical tool for “coding” SharePoint) and Visual Studio 2008. Our solution was to hack away until the beastie SharePoint could suck data from SQLServer.

MSDN’s Dot Net Web log, “. Net Developer”, had a useful post today. We think it’s pretty useful. We tried to locate the information using the MSDN search and experience zero joy. The original Web log post we snagged is here. The key piece of information is this statement:

If you’re working with content, SharePoint Designer is a great tool, but if you’re working with compiled code, then you really need to be looking at Visual Studio and the things that the extensions let you do.

To make Visual Studio work, however, you will need these links to obtain bits and pieces not in the Visual Studio 2008 build:

  • The installer here
  • The how to do it here

The information is available on Phil Wheat’s Web log: http://blog.austinwheats.net

Save these links because the search function doesn’t work too well.

Stephen Arnold, August 23, 2008

Autonomy: On Track with Amtrak

August 25, 2008

US search and content processing vendors must be wondering why their sales efforts continue to come up short. Autonomy nailed another juicy, high profile contract. This time Amtrak, the outfit that runs America’s remarkable passenger rail system, has inked a deal with the Cambridge, UK, vendor of search and content processing software. Financial details were not announced. Amtrak’s search system, its voice response system, and its personalization functions are–in a word–ratty. I hope that Autonomy’s software improves Amtrak’s online functions. I don’t think there’s much hope for the rail system itself. The train running from Campinas to Sao Paulo I rode as a kid was light years better than the Amtrak regional service I experienced about 10 days ago. The Amtrak business class car smelled as if a couple of chickens and a pig were on board. In Brasil, the chickens and pigs rode mostly in third class and the first class cars were quite nice as I recall. Amtrak’s business class delivered the stink without the actual beasts. More information about the Autonomy win is here. Information about Autonomy is here. The site was sluggish on August 24, 2008, at 3 30 pm Eastern. Might be a network issue.

Stephen Arnold, August 25, 2008

Punching Google in the Snoot

August 25, 2008

The San Jose Mercury News, Google’s home town newspaper, points out lousy decisions at the Mountain View firm. Chris O’Brien wrote “Google’s Ventures Outside Search Fail to Pay Dividends”. The sub title is even more direct, “Google to face first real test of its leadership as ventures outside search fail to show dividends.” You must read Mr. O’Brien’s story here.

For me, the most interesting point in the write up was this statement:

all those high-profile ventures the company has launched, and the acquisitions it’s made, have yet to contribute much to the bottom line. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company noted that revenue from services such as YouTube, Google Checkout and a host of others ‘were not material.’

Material is a code word for worthless. Even more galling is that this story puts some wood behind a remark I recall hearing about Google from a Microsoft professional: “Google’s a one trick pony.”

That trick continues to spin money, but Google is now officially fallible, a charge that must be galling to the Googlers.

My research suggests that Google’s short term flops cannot be interpreted as the longer term trajectory of the company. Here are three points from my 2007 Google Version 2.0 study for Infonortics, an outfit located near Oxford, England:

  1. Google focused on search, built a good system by leveraging indifference from competitors and the good fortune of having AltaVista.com engineers available due to Hewlett Packard’s cluelessness about online
  2. Google discovered that by solving some problems in search, the resulting infrastructure could do other functions quite well. The first big other function was a running a rework of the GoTo.com/Overture.com ad engine
  3. Google’s infrastructure is an application platform which can be repurposed without too much effort if you are a Google class brain.

The net net is that Google only has to get traction in one or two tangential business sectors to generate new revenue. My research indicates that a “blast off” will generate a fraction of the core business revenue, but if the area is mobile services or enterprise applications, these markets are sufficiently big to make the revenue contribution sufficient for Wall Street’s greed appetite.

I agree with Mr. O’Brien’s analysis in general. But I’m not sure I want to count Google out just yet. Google is one tiny step from becoming a commercial publisher and a video production company. The company has mow through other business sectors quickly and only put effort into those where money begins to flow. That’s what makes Google a threat in the short term and for the longer term as well.

Stephen Arnold, August 25, 2008

Google: When Old Meets New and Is Discovered by Others

August 25, 2008

I just updated my Google patent document collection. I have not done a comprehensive count, but Google’s patent production has slowed. When I get the month by month data, I will post a summary here.

Someone forwarded me Jeremy Zawodny’s Web log post “Dumber Is Faster with Large Data Sets (and Disk Seeks). You can read the full article here. For me the most interesting point in the post was:

Put another way, taking the brain-dead stupid, non-SQL, mainframe-like approach got me results 12 times faster than doing it the seemingly “correct” way.

Mr. Zawodny is a former Yahoo Jedi knight and current database guru. What surprised me is that today’s Jedi’s assume that solutions developed decades ago work. If you poke around the Google patent documents, you may, as I have, identified some “old fashioned” concepts. The rush to reinvent the wheel may prevent some organizations from mining older technologies for good ideas. Perhaps Mr. Zawodny will continue to speak out, saying “Dumber is faster.”

Stephen Arnold, August 25, 2008

Today’s Wild Business Idea: Dump Your Traditional Data Center

August 24, 2008

Dion Hinchcliffe’s “Are We Ready to Declare the “Time of Death” for the Enterprise Data Center” here. Mr. Hinchcliffe uses the Amazon Elastic Block Store service as  hook for this question that stopped me in my tracks. I just submitted my KMWorld column on this subject, and I wanted to see if my analysis matched the ZDNet take on cloud computing. The question is, “Can you trust cloud computing with your enterprise data?” Mr. Hinchcliffe includes a nifty illustration which I am reluctant to reproduce. The diagram shows the difference between the traditional data center and the cloud services. It also provides some bullet points to help you recognize the difference between a server sitting in your server room or at your service provider and a service that is not sitting in one of those locations. ;-) I usually tell by the heat and noise, however.

The most interesting section in this write up includes the statement:

But it’s fairly clear that the classical multi-hundred thousand square foot proprietary data center is a dinosaur of another age, like mainframes are for most organizations today.

You will have to work hard to find a better statement of the received wisdom on this point.

My column takes a different line of attack. Like the addled goose I am, I pick out what I consider the weak links in the argument and probe that point. I can’t reproduce the column; otherwise, my publisher will not mail me the really big check that I get for my golden prose. I can identify the a simple check list to help you decide if cloud computing is for you.

First, if you have little to lose, cloud computing makes sense. If the pictures or other ephemera disappear , it’s a heart ache, but you have lost memories, not your money, your freedom, or your business one hopes.

Second, if you are operating on a leash with one end around your throat and the other in the hands of a venture capital firm, law enforcement, or  a client with a penchant for crushing worms who fumble a project, you will use cloud computing under carefully controlled circumstances.

Third, you want to experiment and don’t place much value on the test set, go for it.

Fourth, it’s a school project, a research exercise, or a competitive analysis, cloud computing is ideal.

Fifth, you don’t know about security, reliability, service level agreements, etc., sign up now. You may not get bitten, and you will learn a great deal.

My knock against cloud computing is focused on risk. If the risk is acceptable, cloud computing may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you are risk averse, you will want to engineer a solution so there can be some fuzzy cloudiness involved, but there’s a great deal of other engineering to match the dream with the risk inherent in a cloudy environment. Everybody may be doing it, but some situations are not for “everybody”.

Stephen Arnold, August 24, 2008

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