Luxid: Positioning Adjustments

September 23, 2014

Luxid, based in Paris, offers an automatic indexing service. The company has focused on the publishing sector as well a number of other verticals. The company uses the phrase “semantic content enrichment” to describe the companies indexing. The more trendy phrase is “metatagging,” but I prefer the older term.

The company also uses the term “ontology” along with references to semantic jargon like “triples.” The idea is that a licensee can select a module that matches an industry sector. WAND, a competitor, offers a taxonomy library. The idea is that much of the expensive and intellectually demand work needed to build a controlled vocabulary from scratch is sidestepped.

The positioning that I find interesting is that Luxid delivers “NLP enabled ontology management workflow.” The idea is that once the indexing system is installed, the licensee can maintain the taxonomy using the provided interface. This is another way of saying that administrative tools are included. Another competitor, Smartlogic, uses equally broad and somewhat esoteric terms to describe what are essential indexing operations.

Like other search and content processing vendors, Luxid invokes the magic of Big Data. Luxid asserts, “Streamlined, Big Data architecture offers improved scalability and robust integration options.” The point that indexing processes often stub toes is the amount of human effort and machine processing time required to keep and index updated and populate the new content across already compiled indexes. Scalability can be addressed with more resources. More resources often means increased costs, a challenge for any indexing system that deals with regular content, not just Big Data.

Will the revised positioning generate more inquiries and sales leads? Possibly. I find the wordsmithing content processing vendors use fascinating. The technology, despite the academic jargon, has been around since the days of Data Harmony and other aging methods.

The key points, in my view, is that Luxid offers a story that makes sense. The catnip may be the jargon, the push into publishing which is loath to spend for humans to create indexes, and the packaging of vocabularies into “Skill Cartridges.”

I anticipate that some of Luxid’s competitors will emulate the Luxid terminology. For many years, much of the confusion about which content processing does what can be traced to widespread use of jargon.

Stephen E Arnold, September 22, 2014

Watson = Google. IBM, Of Course!

September 22, 2014

I read “How IBM’s Watson Could Do for Analytics What Search Did for Google.” I urge you to flip through a math book like Calculus on Manifolds: A Modern Approach to Classical Theorems of Advanced Calculus. Although an older book, some of its methods are now creeping into the artificial intelligence revolution that seems to be the next big thing. Then read the Datamation write up.

IBM is rolling out a “freemium model to move Watson, their [sic] English language AI interface for analytics, into the market more aggressively.” What could be more aggressive than university contents, recipes for Bon Appétit, and curing cancer?

The article points out that the only competitor to Watson is Google. Well, that’s an interesting assertion.

Google put an interface on search I learned. The rest is Google’s dominance. Now IBM wants to put an interface on analytics, and—I assume it follows to the thinkers at IBM—IBM’s dominance will tag along.

The article asserts:

We often talk about analytics needing data scientists who have a unique skill set, allowing them to get out the answers needed from highly complex data repositories.  Since the results of the analysis are supposed to lead to better executive decisions the ideal skill set would have been an MBA Data Scientist, yet I’ve actually never seen one of those. Folks who are good at deep analysis and folks that are good at business tend to be very different folks, and data scientists are in very short supply at the moment.

Well, someone has to:

  • Select numerical recipes
  • Set thresholds
  • Select process sequences
  • Select data and ensure that they are valid
  • Set up outputs, making decisions about what to show and what not to show
  • Modify when the outputs do not match reality. (I realize that this step is of little interest to some analytics users.)

The article concludes:

The Freemium model has similar advantages. So if you wrap a product that line executives should prefer with an economic model that removes most of the financial barriers, you should end up with a solution that does for IBM what Search did for Google. And that could do some interesting things to the analytics market, creating a similar set of conditions to those that put IBM on top of technology in the last century.

What’s a freemium model? What’s the purpose of the analysis? What’s the method to validate results? What controls does a clueless user have over the Watson system?

Oh, wait. Watson is a search system. Google is a search system that people use. Watson is a search system that few use. Also, IBM still sells mainframes. This is a useful factoid to keep in mind.

Stephen E Arnold, September 22, 2014

Lucid Works: Really?

September 21, 2014

Editor’s Note: This amusing open letter to Chrissy Lee at Launchsquad Public Relations points out some of the challenges Lucid Imagination (now Lucid Works) faces. Significant competition exists from numerous findability vendors. The market leader in open source search is, in Beyond Search’s view, ElasticSearch.

Dear Ms. Lee,

I sent you an email on September 18, 2014, referring you to my response to Stacy Wechsler at Hired Gun public relations. I told you I would create a prize for the news release you sent me. I am retired, but I don’t have too much time to write for PR “professionals” who send me spam, fail to do some research about my background, and understand the topic addressed in your email.

Some history: I recall the first contact I had from Lucid Imagination in 2008. A fellow named Anil Uberoi sent me an email. He and I had a mutual connection, Mark Krellenstein who was the CTO for Northern Light when it was a search vendor.

I wrote a for fee report for Mr. Uberoi, who shortly thereafter left Lucid for an outfit called Kitana. His replacement was a fellow named David. He left and migrated to another company as well. Then a person named Nancy took over marketing and quickly left for another outfit. My recollection is that in a span of 24 months, Lucid Imagination churned through technical professionals, marketers, and presidents. Open source search, it seemed, was beyond the management expertise of the professionals at Lucid.

Then co founder Mark Krellenstein cut his ties with the firm, I wondered how Mr. Krellenstein could deliver the innovative folders function for Northern Light and flop at Lucid. Odd.

Recently I have been the recipient of several emails sent to my two major email accounts. For me, this is an indication of spam. I knew about the appointment of another president. I read  “Trouble at Lucid Works: Lawsuits, Lost Deals, and Layoffs Plague the Search Startup Despite Funding.” Like other pundit-fueled articles, there is probably some truth, some exaggeration, and some errors in the article. The overall impression left on me by the write up is that Lucid Works seems to be struggling.

Your emails to me indicate that you perceive me as a “real” journalist. Call me quirky, but I do not like it when a chipper young person writes me, uses my first name, and then shovels baloney at me. As the purveyor of search silliness for your employer Launchsquad, which seems Lucid Works’ biggest fan and current content marketing agent. Not surprisingly, the new Lucid Fusion products is the Popeil pocket fisherman of search. Fusion slices, dices, chops, and grates. Here’s what  Lucid Works allegedly delivers via Lucene/Solr and proprietary code:

  • Modular integration. Sorry, Ms. Lee, I don’t know what this means.
  • Big Data Discovery Engine. Ms. Lee, Lucid has a search and retrieval system, not a Cybertap, Palantir, or Recorded Future type system.
  • Connector Framework. Ms. Lee licensees want connectors included. Salesforce bought Entropy Soft to meet this need. Oracle bought Outside In for the same reason. Even Microsoft includes some connectors with the quite fragile Delve system for Office 365.
  • Intelligent Search Services.Ms. Lee, I suggest you read my forthcoming article in KMWorld about smart software. Today, most search services are using the word intelligent when the technology in use has been available for decades.
  • Signals Processing.Ms. Lee, I suggest you provide some facts for signals processing. I think in terms of SIGINT, not crude click log file data.
  • Advanced Analytics.Ms. Lee, I lecture at several intelligence and law enforcement conferences about “analytics.” The notion of “advanced” analytics is at odds with the standard numerical recipes that most vendors use. The reason “advanced” is not a good word is that there are mathematical methods that can deliver significant return. Unfortunately today’s computer systems cannot get around the computational barriers that bring x86 architectures to their knees.
  • Natural Language Search.Ms. Lee, I have been hearing about NLP for many years. Perhaps you have not experimented with the voice search functions on Apple and Android devices? You should. Software does a miserable job of figuring out what a human “means.”

So what?

Frankly I am not confident that Lucid Works can close the gap between your client and ElasticSearch’s. Furthermore, I don’t think Lucid Works can deliver the type of performance available from Searchdaimon or ElasticSearch. The indexing and query processing gap between Lucid Works and Blossom Software is orders of magnitude. How do I know? Well, my team tested Lucid Works’ performance against these systems. Why don’t you know this when you write directly to the person who ran the tests? I sent a copy of the test results to one of Lucid Works’ many presidents.

Do I care about Ms. Lee, the new management team, the investors, or the “new” Lucid?

Nope.

The sun has begun to set on vendors and their agents who employ meaningless jargon to generate interest from potential licensees.

What’s my recommendation? I suggest a person interested in Lucid navigate to my Search Wizards Speak series and read the Lucid Imagination and Lucid Works interviews. Notice how the story drifts. You can find these interviews at www.arnoldit.com/search-wizards-speak.

Why does Lucid illustrate “pivoting”? It is easy to sit around and dream about what software could do. It is another task to deliver software that matches products and services from industry leaders and consistent innovators.

For open source search, I suggest you pay attention to www.Flax.co.uk, www.Searchdaimon.com, www.sphinxsearch.com, and www.elasticsearch.com for starters. Keep in mind that other competitors like IBM and Attivio use open source search technology too.

You will never have the opportunity to work directly for me. I can offer one small piece of advice: Do your homework before writing about search to me.

Your pal,

Stephen E Arnold, September 21, 2014

HP Autonomy Hackathons

September 9, 2014

In early September 2014, Hewlett Packard announced its hackathons. These are designed to “unleash developer creativity.” The hacks will demonstrate the power of [the] IDOL OnDemand platform.

HP has lined up events at DataWeek and API World, Legal Hackers, HackMIT Hackathon, and TCO14. The most interesting comment in the announcement is this statement attributed to the IDOL OnDemand “evangelist”:

IDOL OnDemand is the ideal platform for today’s developer looking to build amazing applications in the mobile, big data world. The hackathons are terrific opportunities for developers to engage with their peers and the IDOL OnDemand platform, and are always a lot of fun too.

For me, the most fun I have is watching Hewlett Packard sling mud at Autonomy, Deloitte, and former Autonomy employees.

The idea informing these hackathons appears to be building apps for HP’s Autonomy IDOL in the cloud initiative. Compared to ElasticSearch, HP is putting quite a bit of effort into this program. ElasticSearch, on the other hand, announces a developer training session and the developers show up.

Perhaps HP’s struggles with IDOL have something to do with one or more of these factors:

  1. Open source options / alternatives to proprietary information retrieval systems
  2. HP’s history of management turnover
  3. HP’s on again and off again approach to certain business initiatives
  4. The public relations stemming from the Autonomy litigation.

Did I omit a factor or two? Use the comments section to set me straight.

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2014

Thinking about Enterprise Search? VUCA Is for You

September 8, 2014

the Harvard business Review is embracing some of the alleged jargon used by intel analysts, warfighters, and with-it Beltway Bandits. Now the relationship between use of the acronym VUCA and everyday business decisions about toner and where to have lunch is tenuous at best. The term warrants a comment.

First, however, what does the write up “A Framework for Understanding VUCA” share with the managers of the world? The article defines VUCA as “volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.” Ah, these are the concepts that have launched a 1,000 marketing presentations about search, analytics, and content processing. A fancy new, state of the art, analytics system incorporating entity extraction, faceting, and linguistic understanding will help make VUCA a bad dream. VUCA is like Ebola for an organization. Bad indeed. No reliable cure. High mortality rate. VUGA = Bad.

Next, VUCA makes planning difficult. “Hey, it’s crazy out there.” This seems pretty tricky. The HBR write up suggests tackling VUCA with flexibility. Fight with a quadrant, not the original analytics based Boston Consulting grid. VUCA requires one of those squishy grids with quite a bit of subjectivity.

Also, the HBR content requires reading and a sound function. When I accessed the rich media, I heard nothing. A flaw in my system or a reminder of the challenges VUCA presents to publishers as well as lesser managers.

Second, what’s VUCA have to do with search, analytics, and content marketing. Given the spectacular thrashing over Autonomy and the lesser stomping around about Lucid Works (originally Lucid Imagination), VUCA seems to be a large part of the information retrieval sales process and the management process. Stated another way, search, analytics, and content processing are supposed to decrease VUCA. The reality seems to be that where search, analytics, and content processing are deployed, VUCA becomes a very big deal. It does not work particularly well and there is no easy way to figure out what’s right, what’s incorrect, what’s broken, and what’s actually useful.

So the equation can be modified to state VUCA=Search.

One of the comments to the HBR VUCA analysis is interesting to me; to wit:

The VUCA label is so typical in the business world. The idea
that it’s new is such a load of crap. To use it for an excuse not to develop and execute a strategy or plan is abdication of the highest order. I’d say I have as much experience in this as most. Launching a successful international passenger and cargo airline in an active war zone clearly involved all the elements of VUCA. Your analysis is correct. Any leader must deal with these elements daily. The idea that the world is somehow more uncertain, complex or ambiguous is garbage. Volatility varies regularly over time. You create and execute a strategy in this world the same way you did in the world of yesterday and stop whining.

Why not order up a T shirt with VUCA=Ebola to make the point.

For me, consultants will love VUCA. I can’t wait for mid tier consultants to use this hip military lingo in their content marketing.

Stephen E Arnold, September 8, 2014

YouTube: The Real Giant in Online Advertising

September 5, 2014

I wonder who suggested this study? I wonder who sponsored the study? How about a gigantic multi million pool of data? Could the “study” shore up Google’s ad revenue as folks shift to mobile search? What about that lousy Web site traffic? How is that working out for those who chase sales leads and sales with a mere Web site? So many questions.

Navigate to “Study: In Social Advertising, YouTube Converts More Customers Than Anyone Else.”

I learned from a testimonial:

“We believe that YouTube does well in both of these important purchase funnel areas for a number of reasons,” Jeff Zwelling, CEO and co-founder at Convertro told me by phone this week. “YouTube’s own search volume and preferential positioning on Google’s results help drive large amounts of traffic, of course. But when you get to YouTube, the content is rich, descriptive, and usually helpful.” “I’ve done this myself. I recently bought a coffee machine. I had the decision down to three alternatives and couldn’t decide which one was best for me,” Zwelling said. “In the end, I watched videos on YouTube of people using all three machines and chose the one that matched my idea of a good coffee maker.”

But Twitter has some value:

“Throughout our study, it is clear that social media in general — and Twitter in particular — is much more likely than any other marketing channel to provide the customer with brand awareness and consideration of a product,” Zwelling said.

Oh, oh. Twitter. Grrr.

And for you duffs with a Web site. Here’s a “finding” for your consideration:

As we know from recent studies, 99% of organic messages get almost no interaction on social media. Aol Platforms’ report backs this up, showing that only 1% of organic product-promoting tweets lead to a direct purchasing decision. But what happens when you sponsor a tweet?

So there. You can download this report at this link.

Go, YouTube.

Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2014

An IBM Watson Boot Camp: Gimmee 20!

September 5, 2014

Hopefully a demo will become available. Do you think?

Navigate to “IBM, CUNY Launch Watson Student App Competition.” From a content marketing article, I learned from eWeek:

The contest, known as the CUNY-IBM Watson Case Competition, is an opportunity to learn and develop apps for applying the IBM Watson cognitive technology to improve the operation of organizations and the delivery of services to customers. The IBM Watson technology embodies the future, and this competition enables CUNY students to be part of the new generation involved in the jobs and businesses that will be created.

This is not the first Watson competition. The content marketing article does a round up.

Alas, no links to demos. Just more Watson is wonderful; for example:

Indeed, some possible examples to apply IBM Watson are improving the quality and effectiveness of public undergraduate education and helping to better deliver public services such as public safety, health and transportation. Teams of CUNY students will work through various milestones during the fall 2014 semester, while being mentored by IBM, CUNY faculty and other experts in the field. Teams of three to five students will present their preliminary concepts during Watson “boot camp” Oct. 24 and 25. The finalists will participate in a final round of presentations on Jan. 15, 2015, when cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams.

Indeed.

Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2014

Open Text Excellence: Oh, the System Did It

September 5, 2014

This is the outfit that once employed the name surfer Dave Schubmehl. He is the IDC expert who sold information on Amazon without my permission. Once he bailed, I assumed Open Text would improve.

Nope. Wrong.

I received this in the mail today.

OpenText <UKMarketing@opentext.com>

3:04 PM (3 hours ago)

to me

If your email program has trouble displaying this email, view it as a web page:
http://now.eloqua.com/es.asp?s=459&e=364560&elq=e8df3eefea2d4395ac3aa3fd70a82281

We would like to give you our sincere apologies

Dear Stephen ,
As an unfortunate consequence of a  system problem, we have been made aware that an email titled “OpenText UK Partner Day” has been accidentally sent to a wider audience than expected. You received this in error and we would ask that you ignore the email.
Best regards
OpenText UK Communications Team

Not only do I live in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, I have never attended an Open Text event. I do know that Red Dot used the Autonomy search system and that Red Dot performance was—ahem, well, let’s see—processing queries in minutes at one client location, long enough for staff to get a coffee…outside the building.

Also, I know Open Text has to support BASIS, Bray’s SGML Search, BRS Search, and probably some other systems. My, isn’t this too expensive to do well?

Anyway, Open Text apologizes for its spam and erroneous communications. Nice stuff. I like the passive voice. Who wants to assign responsibility for spam? Anyone? Oh, a system problem.

Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2014

IBM Watson and Research

August 29, 2014

The IBM Watson content marketing machine grinds on. This time, IBM’s Hail Mary is making Watson into a research assistant. Let’s see. Watson does cancer treatment, recipe invention, and insurance analyses. “IBM Sees Broader Role for Watson in Airing Research” the operative word is “sees”, not hipping, sold, market dominance, and similar “got it done” phrases. Heck, there’s not even a public demo on Wikipedia data or a collection of patents.

The write up cheers me forward with:

With the aid of Watson, companies could better mine that private information and combine it with scientific data in the public domain.

One company studying such possibilities to evaluate medications and treatments is Johnson & Johnson, IBM said. But the company sees applications beyond the health realm, including making automated suggestions based on financial, legal, energy and intelligence-related information, IBM said.

Watson has to generate lots of dough and fast. IBM expects the Watson “system” to produce billions in revenue in five or six years. What Watson is producing is more credibility problems for search vendors with technology that “sort of” works.

I had a query yesterday from a consultant whose client wants to use IBM Watson technology. I suggested that if IBM will fund the quest for a brass ring, go for it. Have a Plan B.

In the meantime, I find the Watson arabesques pretty darned interesting. With HP planning billions from Autonomy, where is this money going to come from. No one seems to think much about the need to have a product that solves a problem for a specific company.

No “saids” or “sees” required. Just a business built on open source technology and home grown code. IBM is fascinating as is its content marketing methods. Quite an end of summer announcement. How about a live demo? I am weary of Jeopardy references.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014

A New Look for Computerworld.com

August 29, 2014

You are familiar with Computerworld, and you may visit the Computerworld.com Web site. The emulators and name surfers somewhere in the IDG Enterprise combine wants more eyeballs. That’s why I saw this news story from the professionals at Marketwired. Note: Not “marketwire.”

The title? “Computerworld.com Integrates Responsive Design Technology and functionality Enhancements in Site Relaunch.” The “real” news story reports:

The award-winning site incorporates responsive design technology to create a universal experience by scaling editorial and advertising content to the user’s screen size, whether they are accessing Computerworld.com with a smartphone, tablet or desktop.

I thought that blog themes like those readily available for WordPress, Joomla, and other content frameworks did the responsive thing automatically. The notion of “responsive design” is getting bright lights at “the leading enterprise technology media company”, however.

I suppose on a slow news day or when an IDC unit cannot publish my information without my permission or the other impedimenta that marks professional behavior, the crackerjack experts at IDG have to dig deep and gut through the really tough news. The story reports:

The editorial voice, content and design of Computerworld.com remains unique to the brand, while functionality has been aligned across IDG Enterprise sites including back-end capabilities enhancing search functionality and digital asset management for displaying more images and video content. The reader experience is further enhanced by large more legible type and fully integrated social media tools. Ads and promotional units are highlighted in a “deconstructed” right rail optimizing effectiveness and native advertising will be threaded intuitively throughout the site.

From whence does the content come from? Well, here’s an example of how IDG maintains its alleged “leading” position:

“Computerworld.com is well known for its superb tech news. What may be less obvious to website visitors is all the other great content Computerworld serves up for senior technology leaders,” said Scot Finnie, editor in chief, Computerworld.

Interesting since the consulting outfit bandied my name about like a tennis ball between mid 2012 and mid July 2014 without fooling around with contracts, sales reports, edit cycles, etc.

Now what about Computerworld.com? Today’s Computerworld.com has 64 objects on the home page, uses 30 images, and expects my wonderful Windows phone to render a page that is a svelte 1656946 bytes. Ooops. Don’t forget that the images pumped to me today total 1612438 bytes. You can see a report by navigating to www.websiteoptimization.com.

Fascinating news about the responsive design innovation. I am surprised that IDG elected to share this secret to online success. Is it possible that Computerworld.com invented responsive design following in the impressive footsteps of Al Gore’s Internet system and method?

Well, as long as revenues rise, the long slog to responsive design will have been worth it.

Stephen E Arnold, August 29, 2014

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