Temis and MarkLogic: Timid? Not on the Semantic Highway

April 12, 2013

My in box overfloweth. Temis has rolled out a number of announcements in the last 10 days. The company is one of the many firms offering “semantic” technology. Due to the vagaries of language, Temis is in the “content enrichment” business. The idea is that technology indexes key words and concepts even though a concept may not be expressed in a text document. I call this indexing, but “enrichment” is certainly okay.

The first announcement which caught my attention was a news release I saw on the Marketwatch for fee distribution service. The title of the article was “TEMIS Completes Successful Wide Scale Semantic Content Enrichment Test in Windows Azure.” A news release about a test struck me as unusual. The key point for me was that Temis is positioning itself to go after the SharePoint add in market.

The second announcement was a news story distributed by Eureka Alert called “Wiley Selects Temis for Semantic Big Data Initiative  The key point is that a traditional publishing company has licensed software to do what humans used to do in a venerable publishing company which, until recently, was sticking with traditional methods and products. Will Temis propel John Wiley to the top of the leader board of professional publishers? Hopefully some information will become available quickly.

The third announcement which I noted was “Temis and MarkLogic Strengthen Strategic Alliance.” The write up hits the concepts of semantics and big data. Here’s the passage which intrigued me:

MarkLogic® Server is the only enterprise NoSQL database designed for building reliable, scalable and secure search, analytics and information applications quickly and easily. The platform includes tools for fast application development, powerful analytics and visualization widgets for greater insight, and the ability to create user-defined functions for fast and flexible analysis of huge volumes of data.

I am uncomfortable with the notion of “only”. MarkLogic is an XML centric data management system. Software wrappers can use the XML back end for a range of applications. These include something as exotic as a Web site for the US Army to more sophisticated applications for publishing technical documents for an aircraft manufacturing firm. However, there are a number of ways to accomplish these tasks and some of the options make use of somewhat similar technology; for example, eXist-db. While not perfect, the fact that an alternative exists only increases my discomfort with an “only”.

So what’s up? My hunch is that both MarkLogic and Temis are in flat out marketing mode. Clusters of announcements are, in my experience, an indication that the pipeline needs to be filled. Equally surprising is that MarkLogic into a big data player and an enterprise search system, not a publishing system. Most vendors are morphing. The tie up with Temis suggests that Temis’ back end needs some beefing up. The MarkLogic positioning is that it is now a player in semantics and big data. I think that partnering is a quick way to fill gaps.

Will MarkLogic blast through the $100 million in revenue ceiling? Will Temis emerge as a giant slayer in semantic big data? The company recently raised $25 million to become a player in big data. (See “Big Data Boon: MarkLogic Pulls In $25 Million In VC Funding”.) Converting $25 million into high margin revenue could tax the likes of Jack Welch in his prime.

My hunch is that both firms’ management teams have this as a 2013 goal. With the patience of investors wearing thin for many search and content processing vendors, closed deals are a must. The economy may be improving for analysts on CNBC, but for search vendors, making Autonomy-scale or Endeca-scale revenues may be difficult, if not impossible.

In my opinion, the labels “big data” and semantics do not by themselves deliver revenue the way Google delivers Adwords. As more search firms chase additional funding, has the world of search switched from finding information for customers to getting money to stay in business?

No timidity visible as these two firms race down the semantic interstate.

Stephen E Arnold, April 12, 2013


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