Come Here, Watson. I Want a Cusp of Commercialization

February 28, 2013

For a moment, I thought I was reading a sitcom script. You judge for yourself. Navigate to “And Now, from IBM, It’s Chef Watson.” If you have an environmentally unfriendly version of the New York Times, you can find the script—sorry, real news story—on page B1 of the February 28, 2013, edition.

Let me highlight several phrases and sentences which I found amusing and somewhat troubling for those trying to convince people to license next generation search systems. Keep in mind that the point of the story is Watson, IBM’s next generation Jeopardy winning search system. The peripatetic Watson has done education, insurance, and cancer cracking. Now, Watson and its formidable technical amalgamation of open source and proprietary code is prepping for the Food Network.

IBM Watson’s is hunting for revenues and finding publicity. Can a $100 billion dollar entity find money in search, content processing, and analytics with a silicon Watson? Someday perhaps.

Here are the items I noted, highlighted in dark red and bold to make the words easy to spot:

First, this phrase, “…tries to expand its [IBM’s] artificial intelligence technology and turn turn Watson into something that actually makes commercial sense.” Reading this statement in the context of Hewlett Packard’s interesting commercial activities related to the write down of the spectacular $11 billion purchase of Autonomy is ripe with irony, probably unintentional too.

Second,  I found the phrase “on the cusp of commercialization.” Interesting. The Jeopardy show aired in early 2011. A “cusp,” according to one of the online dictionaries is “A transitional point or time, as between two astrological signs.” Yep, I believe is astrology.

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Choosing the Best Fit Enterprise Infrastructure

February 28, 2013

A writer from Search CIO laments that big data is not in fact rocket science in a recent article, “Data Mining Challenges on the Horizon: Got Big Data? Now What?” This writer attended a two-hour seminar which was sponsored by the Mass Technology Leadership Council and moderated by the global VP of Oracle’s Health Sciences business unit, Kris Joshi,

We learned from this article that infrastructure has been targeted as a high priority and there are several solutions:

Harvard, for example, has a new data center in Holyoke, Mass., that will be able to handle 40,000 calls. It’s the university’s last, by the way, according to Clamp, because when this baby no longer computes, the next cluster will be in the cloud. In the big data puzzle, as Broad’s Trunnell put it, infrastructure is “in many ways the easiest one to solve.” Heck, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is using Oracle’s Exa-line products to help monitor a purported 50 billion transactions per day.

Big data may not be rocket science but many enterprise organizations have found that choosing the appropriate technology for their specific case can be a tough job. We recommend starting with the fundamental component to a big data solution and employing an enterprise infrastructure focused on data delivery.

Megan Feil, February 28, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search.

Facebook Graph Search Has Enterprise Implications

February 28, 2013

Facebook Graph Search has been making headlines. However, most of these headlines are in response to the fact that this has been too long in coming. Facebook finally has search. Now that the shock is over, experts are turning to analysis of how the search function works and how it may benefit individuals and organizations. Jamie Yap does just that in her ZDNet article, “Graph Search Capabilities Offer Enterprise Benefits.”

After an introduction to the search service and how it works, the author continues:

“Commenting on the new feature, Jake Wengroff, social technologies analyst at Gleanster, an analyst firm, said Facebook is essentially injecting natural language processing functionality to its search algorithm so results can be delivered more intuitively and naturally. The underlying concept of graph search has potential in the enterprise setting. This functionality has a strong opportunity in the enterprise space and will ‘galvanize’ the social software industry to develop similar search capabilities for various purposes, Wengroff added.”

Some are even predicting that Graph Search could fill in the gaps left by customer relationship management solutions. Marketing is another definite application for this type of search solution. For those who are in the market for a more traditional enterprise search application, LucidWorks cannot be beat. Perfect for making sense of Big Data or making sense of internal documents, LucidWorks stands on its trusted name and the Lucene/Solr open source community.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 28, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

Europe Wants eDiscovery Standards

February 28, 2013

The eDiscovery process has been employed by businesses and government organizations for many years, but few and far between have developed standards for it. In an exciting and surprising news brief Enterprise Communications reports that, “New Committee Formed To Develop eDiscovery Process Standards.” The International Standards Organization (ISO) has taken upon itself to develop procedures for technology companies and their clients on how to handle digital data.

Methods have already been written for digital forensics and electronic data preservation, but nobody knew whose umbrella eDiscovery fell. It has mostly been tied to the legal community, but eDiscovery covers more ground than simple law.

“Generally, the concept has been well-received; eDiscovery practice leader at Stroz Friedberg, Tom Barnett, said: ‘eDiscovery is not a legal process. It’s a technical and engineering problem. You need a standard. Because it is a relatively new industry, a lot of people do things their own way. I think it’ll be good for the industry to be able to separate the people who are really serious about process and quality control from the people who aren’t.’”

The ISO will need to figure out what processes it needs to standardize and what will work related to the cloud, predictive coding, social networking, etc. It is a great leap forward for eDiscovery, but it is alarming that Europe is developing these standards first. Won’t the US Wild West methods work West of Manhattan?

Whitney Grace, February 28, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

Scientists and Businesspeople Work Together for Big Data Research Solution

February 28, 2013

Ah, we’re pleased to see this real-world step with regard to big data. Science Daily informs us, “Solving Big-Data Bottleneck: Scientists Team with Business Innovators to Tackle Research Hurdles.” Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, and London Business School have partnered to apply the benefits of a commercial crowdsourcing platform to a significant challenge—finding a data-analysis program that can handle the complexities of biological research analysis. The article reveals:

“Partnering with TopCoder, a crowdsourcing platform with a global community of 450,000 algorithm specialists and software developers, researchers identified a program that can analyze vast amounts of data, in this case from the genes and gene mutations that build antibodies and T cell receptors. Since the immune system takes a limited number of genes and recombines them to fight a seemingly infinite number of invaders, predicting these genetic configurations has proven a massive challenge, with few good solutions.

“The program identified through this crowdsourcing experiment succeeded with an unprecedented level of accuracy and remarkable speed.”

This is certainly a worthy big-data application, and confirmation that folks from different disciplines can effectively work together to accelerate progress. Before the project could really get going, though, the biologists had to translate their query into less-specialized language for the TopCoder community. After that, the viable suggestions came rolling in, and researchers picked their solution from an array of good choices. (Alas, the article does not disclose which software was selected.)

Researchers see more cross-discipline projects in the future; Harvard Business School’s Karim Lakhani notes that existing platforms and communities can provide a speedy alternative to the creation of custom data-analysis solutions. Yes, let’s hear it for cooperation!

Cynthia Murrell, February 28, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Open Data Movement Seen as Falling Short in Canada

February 28, 2013

Here’s more good news for the closed data crowd. In his Whimsley blog, writer Tom Slee explains “Why the ‘Open Data Movement’ is a Joke.” The post was spurred by a couple of developments in his native Canada: the country’s inclusion in the international Open Government Partnership, and budget cuts that imperiled jobs at Statistics Canada. Slee writes:

“A gov­ern­ment can simul­ta­ne­ously be the most secre­tive, con­trol­ling Cana­dian gov­ern­ment in recent mem­ory and be wel­comed into the club of ‘open gov­ern­ment’. The announce­ments high­light a few prob­lems with the ‘open data move­ment’ (Wikipedia page):

*It’s not a move­ment, at least in any rea­son­able polit­i­cal or cul­tural sense of the word,

*It’s doing noth­ing for trans­parency and account­abil­ity in government,

*It’s co-opting the lan­guage of pro­gres­sive change in pur­suit of what turns out to be a small-government-focused sub­sidy for industry.”

It is worth noting that Slee’s opinions are Canada-specific. He wishes “open government data” were more of a synonym for “transparent government.” (He excludes the “open scientific data” movement from his criticisms.) He observes:

“There seems to be no link between the government’s actions and the actions of this ‘move­ment’, and basi­cally that’s because the Open Data Move­ment is more focused on for­mats, digitally-accessible data sets, free access to postal codes, and so on than it is focused on actual gov­ern­ment trans­parency around issues that mat­ter. It’s a move­ment that has had no impact on gov­ern­ment accountability.”

See the article for a list of grievances Slee has with the current prime minister and his apparently opaque administration. The write-up encourages Canadian progressives to take a hard look at what is (and is not) actually happening in the name of open government data. To my mind, though, incremental progress is better than no progress at all.

Cynthia Murrell, February 28, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Searching Mobile Phones

February 27, 2013

Short honk: I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I want to document the article “New Document Sheds Light on Government’s Ability to Search iPhones.” If you have an interest in alleged government methods, check out the write up. The links were valid when I checked, but going forward, who knows?

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2013

Exclusive Interview: Tom Reamy KAPS Group

February 27, 2013

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Data Delivery Solutions Connect Data Points from Different Apps

February 27, 2013

It is clear that the big data space is going through a huge transformation. As vendors and experts in the industry alike push to define burgeoning technologies into niche-specific solutions, there is bound to be confusion at times and complete clarity at other points. A recent Forbes article called “Big Data “A-Ha” Moment?” discusses this industry and adjacent ones in terms of both the struggles and space for opportunities.

It seems that many can agree that the big data industry has large sums of money written all over it. Estimates from Gartner to Wikibon range from $23 Billion to $3.8 Trillion. However, the closely related industry of business intelligence has been stuck at a 24% scorecard from Gartner.

According to the article:

Many reasons have been cited for this; from expensive software, to poor usability to complex integration issues.  While each of the above certainly plays a role in the lack of adoption, my observations have been that, the culture of elitism generated in the world of data has done nothing but scare the most common of companies.  And this trend has been amplified recently.  Look, I too admire Nate Silver, Facebook and Google for the great work they do with Data.

One of the hallmarks of the niche of big data technologies that fall under the category of data delivery solutions is their intuitive user experience and the integrative abilities to connect multiple pieces of data from different applications under one roof.

Megan Feil, February 27, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search.

Elasticsearch Secures More Funding

February 27, 2013

Elasticsearch is an enterprise search option that wants a slice of the Big Data pie. It has been making headlines for its seeming fast growth. The latest news is relayed by Enterprise Apps Today in their story, “Open Source Elasticsearch Firm Raises $24M.”

The article explains Elasticsearch’s latest announcement:

“Amsterdam-based Big Data search startup Elasticsearch announced it just closed on a Series B round of funding valued at $24 million. Index Ventures headed the round, which was backed by Benchmark Capital, an existing investor, and newcomer SV Angel. The funds, which follow a $10 million capital injection in November, will be used to help transform the company from a software provider to a full-fledged services and support organization. Elasticsearch also revealed that its open source real-time search and analytics software just crossed the 2 million download mark.”

The seeming explosive growth mentioned above may be cause for alarm. There is no way to know if the growth is sustainable, especially since the only committer on the project is the founder. The two million downloads number is also cause for suspicion. Elasticsearch requires and registers a new complete download for every upgrade release. So the count is not new registrations or even the total number of users. Elasticsearch may be making some headlines, but many users will choose to stay with a stable and trustworthy solution like LucidWorks.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 27, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

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