SRCH2 Hopes to Challenge Existing Enterprise Search

April 30, 2013

A new start-up is trying to bring Google-like search to the enterprise with its new SRCH2 solution. For quite a while, users have been discussing how to bring the Web search experience to the enterprise market. It seems SRCH2 is hoping to finally achieve that feel. Read more in the Venture Beat article, “SRCH2 Launches Google-like Tech to Fix Enterprise Search.”

The article begins:

“The newly launched startup SRCH2 doesn’t focus on standard web search, a space inhabited by Google and Bing. It’s offering a new take on ‘enterprise search.’ Bhatia considers search companies ElasticSearch and LucidWorks as the primary competition. But he clarifies that these search products are built on top of Lucene. SRCH2 is developed from the ground up.”

Unfortunately for Bhatia and his company SRCH2, what makes LucidWorks a standout is not just its creativity and agility, but its strong track record. Start-ups are great, and often inject a new shot of originality into any given market; however, what enterprise customers are looking for is dependability and security. These are qualities that LucidWorks can stand tall on, and defend now and in the future.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

Inventive Graduate Student Builds Breakthrough Database

April 30, 2013

For some folks, deadlines can lead to innovation. One graduate student’s efforts to speed up his research has resulted in the inspired, high-speed parallel database MapD, we learn from DataInformed‘s encouraging piece, “Fast Database Emerges from MIT Class, GPUs and Student’s Invention.” Todd Mostak’s in-a-pinch breakthrough could soon help others in business as well as academia.

The informative article contains too many specifics to cover here, but I suggest checking it out. It should be fascinating reading for anyone interested in data management. I personally think the use of graphics processors designed for gaming is a stroke of genius. Or maybe desperation (the two can be closely related). Reporter Ian B. Murphy tells us:

“While taking a class on databases at MIT, Mostak built a new parallel database, called MapD, that allows him to crunch complex spatial and GIS data in milliseconds, using off-the-shelf gaming graphical processing units (GPU) like a rack of mini supercomputers. Mostak reports performance gains upwards of 70 times faster than CPU-based systems. . . .

“‘I had the realization that this had the potential to be majorly disruptive,’ Mostak said. ‘There have been all these little research pieces about this algorithm or that algorithm on the GPU, but I thought, “Somebody needs to make an end-to-end system.” I was shocked that it really hadn’t been done.'”

Well, sometimes it takes someone from outside a field to see what seems obvious in retrospect. Mostak’s undergraduate experience was in economics, anthropology, and math, and he was in Harvard’s Middle Eastern Studies program when he was compelled to develop MapD. A database class at MITgave him the knowledge he needed to build this tool, which he created to help with the tweet-heavy, Arab Spring-related thesis he was working on.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab has now snapped up the innovator. Though some questioned hiring someone with such a lean computer-science education, Lab director Sam Madden knows that Mostak’s unconventional background only means he has a unique point of view. The nascent computer scientist has already shown he has the talent to make it in this field.

Though Mostak says he still has work ahead to perfect his system, he does plan to share MapD as an open source project in the near future. Is he concerned about opening his work to the public? Nope; he states:

“If worse comes to worst, and somebody steals the idea, or nobody likes it, then I have a million other things I want to do too, in my head. I don’t think you can be scared. Life is too short.”

That it is. I suspect we will be hearing more from this creative thinker in the years to come.

Cynthia Murrell, April 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Facial Recognition Software No Help in Boston Bombing Case

April 30, 2013

We must keep in mind that science fiction is one thing, and existing technology quite another. ArsTechnica highlights the difference with, “Boston Police Chief: Facial Recognition Tech Didn’t Help Find Bombing Suspects.” While facial recognition and other cutting-edge software may prove to be important tools for crime fighters of the future, we aren’t there just yet. Writer Cyrus Farivar informs us:

“While the whole country is relieved that this past week’s Boston Marathon bombing ordeal and subsequent lockdown of the city is finally over, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told the Washington Post that the department’s facial recognition system ‘did not identify’ the two bombing suspects.

“‘The technology came up empty even though both Tsarnaevs’ images exist in official databases: Dzhokhar had a Massachusetts driver’s license; the brothers had legally immigrated; and Tamerlan had been the subject of some FBI investigation,’ the Post reported on Saturday.

“Facial recognition systems can have limited utility when a grainy, low-resolution image captured at a distance from a cellphone camera or surveillance video is compared with a known, high-quality image.”

This key example illustrates why we think it is important to separate “as is” from “to be.” Forward-thinking is great, as long as we don’t let it trip us up in the present. The article notes that video surveillance was used to pinpoint the suspects—but only with much time and energy (and, I suspect but cannot confirm, large quantities of coffee). It was reported that, for example, one FBI agent viewed a single video segment 400 times in the effort to connect dots and build the narrative that eventually led to the suspects.

The article goes on to discuss Reddit‘s, um, contribution to the manhunt. That didn’t go quite as hoped, and actually interfered with the official investigation. It is important to remember that, though we have many shiny-new tools at our disposal, time-tested investigative techniques (plied by those with actual training) are still at the heart of law enforcement.

Cynthia Murrell, April 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Pintrips Offers New Take on Travel

April 30, 2013

Is this a new type of search? Pintrips insists it has something unique in a press release posted at Market Wired, “Pintrips Takes Flight—New Kind of App Takes the Chaos Out of Finding the Best Fare.” The cross-platform tool consolidates information travelers discover across sites, allowing them to share their findings publicly and privately, complete with real-time price and availability updates. That certainly sounds helpful. The write-up tells us:

“Pintrips leverages what’s spread out on the internet, making comparing and finding ideal flights and deals easier than it’s ever been. Instead of time consuming and memory-challenging flight comparisons on multiple windows, the Pintrips platform uniquely allows consumers to compare deals, itineraries and choices in new ways; apples to apples or apples to oranges. For example, compare different date pairs to the same destination to see when better deals are available; compare different destinations such as deals to Montego Bay versus deals to Aruba, Paris versus Barcelona with absolute ease.”

According to recent research, consumers are frustrated with the process of comparing deals across travel sites. Pintrips aims to fill that gap, expecting that frequent travelers will get the most out of their service. Public “pinning boards” enable users to share travel information, bringing the crowd-sourcing impulse to this arena.

The company promises continued refinements to their product, including mobile apps. Currently, the site works best in Chrome, but developers promise Firefox, Safari, and IE functionality down the line. Pintrips was founded in 2011, and launched its beta product in November of last year. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA.

Cynthia Murrell, April 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

MBAs, Innovation, and Search

April 29, 2013

I read “If MBAs Are Useless, We’re All in Big Trouble.” My interest is search which gives me considerable room to wander in the intellectual farm land. The key point, in my opinion, is that MBAs are not useless and smart money types who suggests MBAs are losers to some degree are off base.

Here’s the snippet which caught my attention:

While creating a product and starting a company have never been easier, building and sustaining a business have never been harder. And lean is not everything. That means business education has never been more important. But first, both b-schools and companies need to learn some new tricks.

Several thoughts crossed my mind. The argument points out what any one who owes money knows. Producing revenue is pretty important to avoid failure, humiliation, or legal action. Also, the idea that a person can do everything by himself or herself is not such a good idea. The underlying truism is that many tasks are complex. Renaissance men and women are in short supply. Ergo a team is needed. Also, the notion of learning new “tricks” is interesting. A trick is, in my view, a short cut. And as any one who struggled in math class knows, tricks make the difference between an A and a C or D for some people.

http://www.hhs.gov/open/images/innovations_fellows.jpg

Even the US government embraces the precepts of MBA-type principles. How is that working out for the US debt? Image source: http://www.hhs.gov/open/images/innovations_fellows.jpg

The next key argument is that “growth” is difficult to achieve. I automatically substitute the phrase “making sales and getting paid” for growth, but the comment is spot on. The subordinate points just polish the discount forks and knives.

Here’s a passage I highlighted:

business education needs to be more practical. Moving faster means leaders have to make more decisions with incomplete, unstructured or ambiguous information. That requires a stronger emphasis on judgment and problem solving, not just analysis. And that realization is already driving both startups and established companies to ditch market research and business plans in favor of prototypes and experiments. The same thing is happening in classrooms.

I don’t agree. What seems to be happening is that the shift to online education is having a disruptive impact on education. I live in a fourth class city in a state which has modest traction in the wide world of higher learning. There are instant schools which provide education and degrees. There are universities which field athletic teams which get more attention than academic programs. There are lots of folks who graduate with degrees and have difficulty reading. I have met some MBAs who work in restaurants. Not good.

So what’s this have to do with search?

Actually the new online users have to have systems which think for them. If these users do not know how to separate the goose feathers from the giblets, the users will depend on systems and services which provide answers. Without the ability to determine if the answers are correct, the big computer outfits are in control

And MBAs? In my experience most MBAs want to make money, be successful, make decisions, and be able to create a killer golf or bridge group. The smart money reaction against MBAs, if it is indeed happening, is a “birds of a feather” action. An MBA who succeeds knows that MBAs are not central to the success equation.

I am not an MBA or M anything. I look at the situation many executives at search companies have as a working environment. I am not sure an MBA or even a degree in nuclear physics is going to provide a clear path to innovation or financial success.

Focusing on a degree or a particular attribute highlights the self evident fact that making money is tough. Looking for a trick, a recipe, or a short cut satisfies the mind which struggles with more sophisticated ideas.

Yep, I too want “speed, agility, and adaptability”. Unfortunately, none of those characteristics works like following a Lego diagram to build a castle. What does work? If someone knew, the dismal success rate of start ups, new products, and sustainable revenue would not be the defining characteristic of today’s business environment.

And search? How many of those content processing outfits which have been in business for four years or more will be able to emulate the success of an Endeca or Google? Does an MBA has the answer? Let me know. My searching online returns no usable system or method.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013

Sponsored by Augmentext

Oracle Endeca

April 29, 2013

I read “Oracle Extends Business Analytics Portfolio.” The main point is that Oracle Endeca is now at Version 3 and integration with Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Sure has taken place. However, I also noticed “Oracle BI 11.1.1.7.0 and Endeca Certification.” That write up pointed out:

This is a very short post, and meant to clarify a point of potential confusion. The recently released Oracle BI EE 11.1.1.7.0 release features integration with Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, both for use as a search engine and as a data source in BI Publisher. However, this integration is for version 2.4 of Endeca Information Discovery (doc, download). Support for the recently released version 3.0 (doc, download) is planned and not yet available.

Yep, I am confused. What’s integrated? What is not? When will integration be accomplished? Maybe marketing is a step ahead of the engineers? How could that possibly happen? Interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013

Sponsored by Augmentext

Connotate: Private Company Toot Toot

April 29, 2013

I read “Connotate Announces Record Quarter, Driven by Market Demand for More Rapid Delivery of Web Content-Based Products and Services.” The main point is that Connotate is growing revenues and that growth is a result of “market demand.”

Market demand means, according to wise Geek means:

the total amount of purchases of a product or family of products within a specified demographic. The demographic may be based on factors such as age or gender, or involve the total amount of sales that are generated in a particular geographic location.

I learned:

The market for the Connotate solution is broadening as the cost of deployment continues to decrease. “We’ve mastered the entire workflow stack from manual processes all the way to high-end automation,” said Mulholland. “This has resulted in significant growth for us in the SMB market, while we continue to increase the value that our large enterprise customers are receiving. For example, a major UK-based job board publisher was tasked with achieving a 40 percent increase in the number of listings in a very short period of time. Connotate’s automated solution is helping them meet this aggressive goal.”

Does this mean that other companies in Connotate’s competitive sphere will experience similar upsides? The anecdotal information available to me suggests that some of the companies competing directly with Connotate are having trouble closing commercial deals which generate a profit for the vendor. Examples range from specialists in pure analytics, providers of business information visualization systems, and metatagging outfits.

My hunch is that if Connotate is experiencing the financial gains attributed to this privately held company, other factors must be in play. What are those factors? Why are so many of Connotate’s competitors struggling to hit their numbers? Why are some investors slowing down their commitment to back some of Connotate’s rivals?

Perhaps market demand does not float the boats in this particular body of water? Worth monitoring the actions of big name investors with a fondness for this sector like Silver Lake, some of the companies which continue to receive injections of cash in the hops of hitting the big time, and the peregrinations of executives who jump from one content processing outfit to another.

I am assuming that the financial data referenced in the write up are accurate.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013

Sponsored by Augmentext

Google and Yandex: Who Will Win?

April 29, 2013

Business Week tackled the subject of why Google is not the number one search system in Russia. Good topic, but I wonder if part of the answer rests with why Googlers’ efforts to ride a Russian space ship crashed and burned. Perhaps there is more to the Russian market that clicks from those friendly Muscovites and happy folks in Yakutsk?

The write up “Why Google Isn’t Winning in Russia” asserts:

With all of its success on the Web and the rise of Android to the top of the smartphone world, it’s easy to forget that the company faces huge cultural hurdles – and entrenched competitors – in making its search engine truly a world-beater.

So culture? I thought Google had one or two folks familiar with Russia working in the firm’s offices in the US and Europe.

The point of the write up was to underscore the success of Yandex. Business Week says:

Yandex, which is Russia’s most-used search engine, has an analyst score of 4.6, with a 5 indicating a buy and 1 a sell, while Google scores a 4.3, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Yandex’s dominance of the Russian search market – with 62 percent market share compared to Google’s 26 percent – gives it an overwhelming advantage in attracting advertisers and generating profits.

My thought is that Yandex may have some advantages which Google lacks. I could be wrong, but success in some countries may have some connection with politics. Just a thought.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013

Sponsored by Augmentext

Attensity: Evolving and Repositioning Again

April 29, 2013

I met David Bean years ago. He was explaining “deep extraction” to me at a now defunct search engine conference. I recall that he had a number of US government clients. I noted in my analysis of the company which appeared in my analysis of the company that the firm wanted to break into non government markets.

I made sure that one of my team captured news releases about Attensity. When I checked the my files to update my Attensity profile, I noted that the company had done a merger with a couple of German outfits, was pushing into sentiment analysis, and beating the text analytics drum.

In one sense, Attensity was following the same path of Stratify, which as you probably know was Purple Yogi. Hewlett Packard now owns Stratify and I don’t hear too much about how its journey from government work to the wide world of non government work has worked out. Purple Yogi, now Hewlett Packard Autonomy, Stratify is doing legal stuff … I think. If I understand the write up by a high intellect consultant expert, Attensity is speedboating into customer support.

Can market niches like customer support, eDiscovery, and business intelligence keep some vendors afloat?

Two different markets but one common goal: Diversify in order to generate big revenues.

I read “Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement.” On the surface, the story is a good one and it is earnestly told:

Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).

Familiar stuff. Text processing, outputs, and payoffs for the licensees.

Attensity, founded in 2000, that’s 13 years ago, is no spring chicken. I learned from the write up:

Attensity has also made some technical improvements to the product. The architecture now supports multitenancy and automatic load balancing, which are especially useful in handling very large volumes of tweets. Reporting has been enhanced to include more visualization options, trend analysis, emerging hot issues, and process and performance analysis.

My thought is that many firms which flourished with the once generous assistance of the US government now have to find a way to generate top line revenue, sustainable growth, and profits.

In the present financial environment, text processing companies are flocking to specific problem areas in organizations. Customer support (a bit of an oxymoron in my opinion), eDiscovery, and business intelligence (not as amusing as military intelligence in my opinion) now are well served sectors.

The companies looking for software and systems to make sense of data, cut costs, gain a competitive advantage, or some other benefit much favored by MBAs have not found a magic carpet ride.

The noise from vendors is increasing. The time required to find and close a deal is increasing. Some customers are looking high and low for a solution which is “good enough”. Management turnover, frequent repositionings, and familiar marketing lingo by themselves may not be enough to keep the many firms competing in these “hot niches” afloat.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013

Mercado Builds Marketplace App on Liferay

April 29, 2013

Cignex Datamatics is launching an open source marketplace infrastructure on top of the popular Liferay open source portal. The aim is to fill another gap in the growing open source worldwide network of services. IT News Online covers the story in the article, “CIGNEX Datamatics Launches Mercado – A Lightweight Marketplace Application.”

The article begins:

“Based on Liferay, popular Open Source portal platform, Mercado allows organizations to build marketplace within enterprise portals, extranets, and intranets. The product addresses the existing gap within the market of having a user centric collaborative space for sharing software products, reports, videos, photos, code snippets etc. . . . The company expects these lightweight products to add value to the enterprise allowing them to realize user adoption with little or no customizations.”

It is interesting to see all of the small lightweight products that are popping up and adding value to the enterprise. Open source initially made a large dent in enterprise services through the large pieces like storage and search. Open source then found its place as the go-to for unstructured data or Big Data. However, solutions like LucidWorks are trying to cover all the bases, offering a broad framework that can suit a variety of enterprises with as few addition add-ons needed as possible. Customers appreciate the strong track record, satisfying user experience, and scalability.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 29, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

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