Semantics in the Enterprise: Partial Business Case
March 12, 2009
If you struggle to justify spending money for semantic technology, you may want to take a look at “Is It Time for the Use of Semantic Technologies in the Enterprise?” by Javier Carbonell here. When I read the article, I sensed that Mr. Carbonell was involved in or privy to a business case for spending money on semantic technology. Mr. Carbonell does not define “semantics”, and I was forced to assume he was referencing software that can figure out what a “document” or other information object is about. The idea is to get beyond keyword indexing which is quite yesterday in my opinion. He acknowledged that the challenges range from staff expertise to technology. The core of the article, in my opinion, is the real problem today: justifying the expense for a technology or suite of technologies that may not be well understood or may not be easy to implement within a rigid timeline or budget. He breaks down his view of costs. You may find the review of methods useful. Keep in mind that the key to the type of analysis Mr. Carbonell recommends is the validity of the assumptions used to “fill in the blanks” where unknowns exist. Guessing does not work too well as the recent financial trouble suggests. Use of a method with faulty assumptions will trigger a host of interesting consequences. When I sense that those developing budgets for semantic projects don’t have the data needed to generate cost analysis that match my experience in the real world, I walk away from the project. A semantics project that goes off the rails can wreck havoc on a budget and on the project manager’s career. When those upsides slide into red ink, the stain may take some time to disappear.
Stephen Arnold, March 12, 2009