AMI: From Albert Search to Market Intelligence

July 10, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is information that did not make Stephen E Arnold’s bylined article in Information Today. That  forthcoming Information Today story about French search and content processing companies entering the US market. Spoiler alert: The revenue opportunities and taxes appear to be better in the US than in France. Maybe a French company will be the Next Big Thing in search and content processing. Few French companies have gained significant search and retrieval traction in the US in the last few years. Arguably, the most successful firm is the image recognition outfit called A2iA. It seems that French information retrieval companies and the US market have been lengthy, expensive, and difficult. One French company is trying a different approach, and that’s the core of the Information Today story.)

In 1999, I learned about a Swiss enterprise search system. The working name was, according to my Overflight archive, was AMI Albert.The “AMI” did not mean friend. AMI shorthand for Automatic Message Interpreter.

Flash forward to 2014. Note that a Google query for “AMI” may return hits for AMI International a defense oriented company as well as hits to American Megatrends, Advanced Metering Infrastructure, ambient intelligence, the Association Montessori International, and dozens of other organizations sharing the acronym. In an age of Google, finding a specific company can be a challenge and may inhibit some potential customers ability to locate a specific vendor. (This is a problem shared by Thunderstone, for example. The game company makes it tough to locate information about the search appliance vendor.)

image

Basic search interface as of 2011.

Every time I update my files, I struggle to get specific information. Invariably I get an email from an AMI Software sales person telling me, “Yes, we are growing. We are very much a dynamic force in market intelligence.”

The UK Web site for the firm is www.amisw.co.uk. The French language Web site for the company is http://www.amisw.com/fr/. And the English language version of the French Web site is at http://www.amisw.com/fr/. The company’s blog is at http://www.amisw.com/fr/blog/, but the content is stale. The most recent update as of July 7, 2014, is from December 2013. The company seems to have shifted its dissemination of news to LinkedIn, where more than 30 AMI employees have a LinkedIn presence. The blog is in French. The LinkedIn postings are in English. Most of the AMI videos are in French as well.

admi adv search

Advanced Search Interface as of 2011.

The Managing Director, according to www.amisw.com/fr, is Alain Beauvieux. The person in charge of products is Eric Fourboul. The UK sales manager is Mike Alderton.

Mr. Beauvieux is a former IBMer and worked at LexiQuest, which originally formerly Erli, S.A. LexiQuest (Clementine) was acquired by SPSS. SPSS was, in turn, acquired by IBM, joining other long-in-the-tooth technologies marketed today by IBM. Eric

Fourboul is a former Dassault professional, and he has some Microsoft DNA in his background.

Read more

IDC Attivio Report Spotted by a Librarian

July 1, 2014

Who gets the $3,500?

News and an unwelcome surprise for me a few days ago. I am now an Amazon author. I had no idea I had attained that status.

An MLS—a law librarian, no less—spotted a report with my name and that of an IDC professional on the Amazon Web site. I took a look this morning (July 1, 2014, 7 am Eastern) and sure enough, an IDC report using my proprietary information is for sale. The price? Only $3,500. Seems fair if one is uninformed I suppose.

amazon attivio

Here’s the url http://amzn.to/1k9xhQV to the report authored by an IDC “professional” named Dave Schubmehl, a former OpenText employee. If you want to buy a $3,500 copy of the IDC version of my work, carrying the IDC professional’s name, and the IDC copyright, go now to http://amzn.to/1k9xhQV. I suppose someone at IDC will do the “oh, my goodness” thing and the report will disappear / go away like some listings in the Google index for European individuals uncomfortable with what’s online about them.

A thought: Odd. I don’t recall signing a contract with IDC for my work. But as a person within a whisker of 70 years old, I am pretty sure that the IDC have a massaged explanation. I assume that the sale of my information on Amazon is one of those actions that big companies sometimes take without operative internal checks and balances. The need for revenue has interesting effects I think.

Flashback: Pat McGovern, founder of IDC, once spoke with me about joining IDC. I elected to pass on his rather unexpected and generous offer. I was nervous about Mr. McGovern for no specific reason, his publications’ editorial approach, and his consulting operation. That was 25 years ago, maybe more.

With the dust up between Amazon and certain “real” publishers like Hachette, maybe Amazon is on the right track to cut out the traditional publishing intermediaries. So far as I know, Amazon has not intentionally violated my rights. I wonder who or what action caused a report with my name to appear in the digital WalMart.

Is Amazon comfortable with the sale of my work without my permission? Is IDC? Am I? Good questions. When one purchases information from a consulting firm,  it may be a good idea to ask these questions:

  • Who did the research?
  • Who wrote the report?
  • Who gets paid?
  • Are contracts in place?
  • Is the information filtered for advertising purposes?
  • Do consulting clients get to speak with the people who did the research and analysis?

If I were still working at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, I would be darned sure that I had my ducks in a row before selling another person’s work with a Booz, Allen logo and employee’s name on the document.

!idc header

The IDC report title page showing my colleagues’ and my work as Dave Schubmehl’s. Note the IDC logo and title. Believe it or not, IDC sent me this document even though I had no contract or guarantee of remuneration. I am trying to convince myself that IDC just forgot about a contract, payment, and my rights and those of my researchers.

Dr. William P. Sommers, my boss at Booz, Allen would probably invite the person recycling another’s work without following procedures to find his or her future elsewhere. (Translation: Get fired immediately.) That may be one small difference between certain consulting firms and pay to play companies that sell consulting services?

A New Era: Ah, times have changed. Misinformation, disinformation, and reformation seem to be more and more prevalent. But what I can do is ask questions; for example, Is IDC’s Dave Schubmehl an “expert” doing his own work? Is the Amazon listing a fluke? Is a big magazine and consulting company chasing revenues using interesting methods?

If you want free Arnold reports, just navigate to www.xenky.com/vendor-profiles. You can even look for brief profiles without charge in Beyond Search.

And if you believe you have a legitimate reason to want information about Attivio (a company awash in venture funding with its open source, proprietary code, business intelligence model), you may write me at seaky2000 at yahoo dot com.

I will — on a case by case basis — evaluate each request. If your email stating your need for an unfiltered Attivio profile makes sense to me, for free I will provide a rough draft of an ArnoldIT in-depth Attivio report. Also, if you want free search and content processing profiles, you can check out write ups like the AeroText story and 11,000 other search- and content related stories in Beyond Search or peruse the list of free profiles at www.xenky.com/vendor-profiles.

Stephen E Arnold, July 1, 2014

Lextek Onix Profile Now Available… Free

March 20, 2014

You may not know that profiles of vendors from IDC-type operations can cost $3,500 or more. Even more impressive are azure chip consulting firms’ penchant for using information from folks who provide reports for free. Hey, there are many former middle school teachers, failed Web masters, and even poetry majors who need a job. Have at it, I say.

If you are interested in search and content processing, you may know that I have been posting 15 to 30 pages profiles of information retrieval vendor systems. Today you can snag a PDF report about Lextek International and its Onix search toolkit.

You have not heard of Lextek?

I would wager a cup of tea made from water drawn from Harrods Creek that you have used the search function in Acrobat. If you have, you have experienced the thrills of the Onix toolkit used by Adobe to make it a delight to search a PDF file.

Lextek keeps a low profile. The company operates from a suburban home in Utah., As part of the founder’s diversification effort, the driving force of Onix opened a gourmet chocolate shop. Autonomy bought Verity and Interwoven. Lextek moved into chocolate and did not implement a search system for the new venture’s Web site. Interesting to me.

You can find the report, which is current through late 2008, on my Xenky.com site. The report is at http://bit.ly/1hBnSAR. There are 12 reports in the series. IDC has taken down the profiles of open source search systems that appeared between 2012 and March 2014. I will be posting the unfiltered versions of these reports in coming months.

My goal is to make the complete collection of more than 50 vendor profiles available without charge. The index to the free reports in the Xenky series is at http://bit.ly/1boX86v.

If you want to correct or complain about a particular report, please, use the Comments section of Beyond Search for the article announcing the availability of a profile.

Before writing baloney about vendor’s origin and core technology, I suggest you check out my reports. The misinformation about which company first used the phrase “content intelligence” or “linguistic search” is amazing. My profiles point out which company used a phrase and when. For example, have you heard about “information black holes”? Autonomy used the phrase in a remarkable marketing brochure in 1997. I know that some subsequent users of the phrase assumed it was a product of their fertile mind. Nope.

Enjoy the Lextek write up. You can try the system if you have Acrobat Reader 6 or higher. Did Adobe make optimal use of Onix? In my opinion, not by a long shot.

Stephen E Arnold, March 20, 2014

Autonomy: 1996 to 2006 Free Report Available on Xenky

February 4, 2014

Update: The HP Autonomy deal is back in the news. See “HP Restates Autonomy’s 2010 Revenue Down 54%, Citing Errors.”

Autonomy was one of the first—some may argue the first—enterprise search vendor to embrace Bayesian-Laplace methods and power its way to almost $1 billion in revenues in 15 years. Hewlett Packard bought Autonomy in 2011, and Autonomy remains a high profile information processing brand.

But what gave Autonomy its revenue oomph? Other vendors tried to match Autonomy’s marketing, technology, and indirect sales. Google generated more revenue than Autonomy, but Google sold ads. In the enterprise sector, Google found itself watching Autonomy close deal after deal.

This report combines information from several Autonomy analyses written by Stephen E Arnold, and his research team. A similar report from an azure chip or mid tier consulting firm can cost as much as $3,500. (Four of Mr. Arnold’s reports are on offer at that rate by IDC, one of the perceived leaders in for fee research by independent experts.)

This free 25 page report provides some important historical information and a description of the Autonomy system.

To download a free copy, navigate to the Xenky.com Web site and select Autonomy from the list of 11 free enterprise search vendor profiles. The report is available at http://bit.ly/1boX86v.

Other reports in this free series of historical and analytical white papers are Convera, Dieselpoint, SchemaLogic, and Verity. Each analysis provides useful information about the wise and sometimes ill advised business and technical decisions companies have made.

If you are interested in a more in-depth discussion of select Autonomy patents and its Digital Reasoning Engine’s mathematical methods, write seaky2000 at yahoo dot com. Put Autonomy Report in the subject line. ArnoldIT will reply with details about this expanded Autonomy analysis.

Kenneth Toth, February 4, 2014

iPhrase Profile Now Available

January 7, 2014

The Xenky.com Vendor Profiles page hosts free reports about important search and content processing vendors. A profile of iPhrase, acquired by IBM in 2006, is now available. iPhrase is important for a number of reasons. You can access the free iPhrase profile at http://bit.ly/1a1H9Y1.

iPhrase embraced ROI or  return on investment as a key value proposition for the complex system. The company departed from Autonomy’s “reduce duplicate work” and tried to create “hard numbers” for licensees’ “value” from the iPhrase system. IBM bought the company, so the ROI for the entrepreneurs was probably okay. The ROI for licensees might be more difficult to determine.

The company was, like Fulcrum Technologies and Autonomy, in the repository business. The indexes pointed to content in the repositories, used the data to enhance search results, and provided “discovery services.” For fans of XML and computationally interesting approaches to search, iPhrase is a system of note. The period from 1996 to 1999 spawned a number of enterprise search vendors. The similarity of most is fascinating. The research computing efforts paid off as entrepreneurs migrated lab demos into the commercial market.

Third, the company lives on today. Just as OpenText uses aging search technology, so does iPhrase’s owner. If you have OmniFind Discovery in your organization, you have some of the 1999 technology goodness available to you. The Xenky profiles make clear that most of the search methods have been recycled multiple times. What’s different is the marketers’ lack of familiarity with pioneering efforts from days of yore.

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, one eager person wanted information about how to establish the “ROI” of search. Anyone looking for how some quite intelligent folks approached “value” for complex information retrieval infrastructure, the iPhrase profile may be useful.

Is it surprising that today’s vendors insist that their firms’ software is revolutionary? The Xenky profiles make one thing clear—there’s not much new happening in search. In fact, marketers are reinventing the wheel. The LinkedIn discussions speak to the assertion, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

The Xenky profiles put the challenge of enterprise search and content processing in a historical context.

Next up is a free Autonomy report covering the period from 1996 with a look back to Cambridge Neurodynamics up to December 2007. Is a profile of a company now owned by Hewlett Packard of value?

You may be surprised because Autonomy is one search vendor marching to a different drummer.

Stephen E Arnold, January 7, 2014

Fulcrum Technologies Report Available: A New Xenky Profile

December 19, 2013

The Xenky Web site has published a new enterprise search vendor profile about Fulcrum Technologies, a company founded in Ottawa, Canada. For 10 minutes, you can flash back to 1983 when Fulcrum Technologies offered a comprehensive solution to organization-wide information retrieval. Then you can fast forward to the present because Fulcrum’s software continues to influence findability solutions in the market today. That’s a mind boggling span of 30 years. Stated another way, Fulcrum’s technology is aging. But how well?

Many of the concepts marketed as innovation by vendors in 2013 are quite similar and in some case almost identical to what Ful/Text and Search Server embodied. Want federated search? Fulcrum offered it. Need automated indexing? Fulcrum delivered. Require a knowledge centric system? Fulcrum said it had a solution for “intellectual assets.”

The journey of Fulcrum from start up to a unit of OpenText is instructive as well. The company had a number of owners before being acquired by Datamat, then PCDocs, next Hummingbird, and finally OpenText.

Was the company generating significant cash? Did it have a secret technology sauce protected by patents, successful deployments, and a cadre of loyal partners? Today’s enterprise search companies are following a technical and financial trail walked by Fulcrum.

This profile snapshots the company’s trajectory from its founding to its becoming a property of OpenText. You can access the free profile on the Xenky vendor profile page. Other free search vendor profiles are available for:

  • Convera
  • Delphes
  • Dieselpoint
  • Entopia
  • Fulcrum Technologies
  • SchemaLogic
  • Siderean
  • Verity.

These case studies provide insight into the challenges search vendors have faced in the past. Scanning several profiles reveals the similarity among systems. Please, read the disclaimer for these free, “historical” reports. Within limit, the information in the 15 to 25 reports may help answer the questions:

  • “Are search systems able to deliver a payback to their customers?”
  • “Have marketers created expectations software cannot meet?”
  • “Has information retrieval innovation for the enterprise stalled?”

The information is provided by Arnold Information Technology without charge. You may use the report’s content for your personal learning. Any other use requires prior written permission from ArnoldIT.

If you want to update, correct, or comment on the profile, please, use the comments section of Beyond Search. The Xenky site is not configured for visitor input.

Stephen E Arnold, December 19, 2013

Verity 2005 Profile Now Available

December 10, 2013

If you have found the “frozen” enterprise search vendor profiles interesting, you may want to check out the Verity 2005 profile. From 1988 to 2005, Verity was one of the leading providers of information retrieval solutions. Verity was purchased by Autonomy in late 2005, and since that deal closed, the Verity brand has been less and less visible. Some young search mavens are unfamiliar with the Verity system I learned in November 2013. Would you believe that one of the people who had huge Verity gaps in his knowledge works for the company that owns Autonomy. Perhaps my free profiles will help the new wave of search experts appreciate the past and the sameness of systems and the predictable boom and bust cycles of the enterprise search market.

The profile provides a snapshot of Verity, its innovations, and its marketing trajectory during the firm’s salad days. The company moved in on a market sector carved out by the now almost-forgotten Fulcrum Technologies. Verity moved through the now-standard trajectory of government sales and some big deals, OEM licensing and partnerships, shifting from search to allegedly higher-value concepts like “knowledge,” acquisitions to get a grip on certain market sectors, and then to its sale to Autonomy, arguably the big fish in the enterprise search pond in 2005.

You can access the index page for the free profiles at http://xenky.com/vendor-profiles/.

Please, remember the caveats that were ignored by one poobah last week. You can correct, comment upon, and criticize the “frozen” draft of a report I prepared for a client years ago. Please, use the comments section of the Beyond Search blog. I am not too interested in parental email, smarm, or “wow, that’s great” inputs. A Beyond Search editor will make sure the comments are in bounds, but no direct inputs to the Xenky.com site are supported at this time.

Next up? Fulcrum Technologies. Believe it or not, the firm’s technology is still in use today. When was that technology rolled out? You will have to wait for the next free, frozen profile if you do not know. (I had forgotten until we selected a draft report to post.)

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 2013

SchemaLogic Profile Available

December 3, 2013

A new profile is available on the Xenky site today. SchemaLogic is a controlled vocabulary management system. The system combines traditional vocabulary management with an organization wide content management system specifically for indexing words and phrases. The analysis provides some insight into how a subsystem can easily boost the cost of a basic search system’s staff and infrastructure.

Taxonomy became a chrome trimmed buzzword almost a decade ago. Indexing has been around a long time, and indexing has a complete body of practices and standards for the practitioner to use when indexing content objects.

Just what an organization needs to make sense of its text, images, videos, and other digital information/data. At a commercial database publsihing company, more than a dozen people can be involved in managing a controlled term list and classification coding scheme. When a term is misapplied, finding a content object can be quite a challenge. If audio or video are misindexed, the content object may require a human to open, review, and close files until the required imnage or video can be located. Indexing is important, but many MBAs do not understand the cost of indexing until a needed content object cannot be found; for example, in a legal discovery process related to a patent matter. A happy quack to http://swissen.in/swictingsys.php for the example of a single segment of a much larger organization centric taxonomy. Consider managing a controlled term list with more than 20,000 terms and a 400 node taxononmy across a Fortune 500 company or for the information stored in your laptop computer.

Even early birds in the search and content processing sector like Fulcrum Technologies and Verity embraced controlled vocabularies. A controlled term list contains forms of words and phrases and often the classification categories into which individual documents can be tagged.

The problem was that lists of words had to be maintained. Clever poobahs and mavens created new words to describe allegedly new concepts. Scientists, engineers, and other tech types whipped up new words and phrases to help explain their insights. And humans, often loosey goosey with language, shifted meanings. For example, when I was in college a half century ago, there was a class in “discussion.” Today that class might be called “collaboration.” Software often struggles with these language realities.

What happens when “old school” search and content  processing systems try to index documents?

The systems can “discover” terms and apply them. Vendors with “smart software” use a range of statistical and linguistic techniques to figure out entities, bound phrases, and concepts. Other approaches include sucking in dictionaries and encyclopedias. The combination of a “knowledgebase” like Wikipedia and other methods works reasonably well.

Read more

Xenky Vendor Profiles: Siderean Software Now Available

November 12, 2013

If you are a fan of semantic methods, you may find the Siderean Software profile a useful case study. You can find the write up, among others, at this location. The chatter at conferences about semantic methods is finally burning out. Nevertheless, semantic methods bubble beneath the surface of many modern search systems. The Siderean case is an example of what types of content processing operations are required to perform “deep indexing” or “rich metadata extraction.” The first step, as you will learn, is to have content tagged. That means SGML or XML.

The question becomes, “How do I get my content into these formats?” The answer, for many budgets, is a deal breaker. One the content is processable, then a number of manipulations are possible. Think of Siderean’s system as delivering the type of flip and flop of data that Excel provides in its pivot table. Now ask yourself, “How often do I use a pivot table?” Exactly.

Remember. I am posting pre-publication drafts of analyses that may have been used, recycled, or just ripped off by various “real” publishers over the years. If there are errors in these drafts, you can “correct” them by adding a comment to this post in Beyond Search. The archive of case studies or profiles will not be updated.

I am providing these for personal use. If a frisky soul wants to use them for commercial purposes, I will take some type of action. If you were in my lecture at the enterprise search conference in New York last week, you will know that I called attention to one of the most slippery of the azure chip consulting firms. I showed a slide that listed the same “expert” twice on a $3,500 report. Not bad, since the outfit’s expert did not create the information in the report.

Stephen E Arnold, November 12, 2013

Delphes: A Linguistic System That Went Away

October 22, 2013

I have posted a profile of the now offline enterprise search vendor Delphes. You can access the write up at www.xenky.com/vendor-profiles.

Delphes is an illustration of what happens when academic research becomes a commercial search system. From the notion of “soul” to the mind boggling complexity of a Swiss Army knife system, Delphes draws together the threads of the late 1980s and early 1990s best ideas in search. The problem was that selling, supporting, and making the many functions work on time and budget were difficult.

How many other vendors have followed in the trail blazed by Delphes? Quite a few. Some have largely been forgotten like DR Link. Others are still with us, but subsumed into even more complex, over arching systems like Hewlett Packard’s blend of print management and Autonomy.

Reviewing a draft of my analyses of Delphes, several points struck me:

First, Delphes was one of the first search system to combine the almost mystical with the nuts and bolts of finding information in an organization.

Second, Delphes included a number of languages, but it was French language centric. Many search systems are English centric. So the approach of Delphes makes some of the linguistic issues clear.

Third, Delphes’ explanation and diagrams are quite fresh. I have seen similar diagrams in the marketing hoo-hah of many 2013 vendors.

Keep in mind that these profiles will not be updated or maintained. I am providing the information because some students may find the explanations, diagrams, and comments of interest. The information is provided on an “as is” basis. If you want to use this for commercial purposes, please, contact me at seaky2000 at yahoo dot com.

Remember. I am almost 70 years old and some of the final versions of these profiles commanded hefty fees. IDC, for example, charges $3,500 for some of the profiles I have created. Are my views worth this lofty price? In my view, that is an irrelevant question since some vendors in Massachusetts just sell the stuff, keep all the money, and leave the addled goose floating in the pond.

A reader reminded me that some big outfits have taken my work and reused it, sometimes with permission and sometimes not. Well, these are for your personal use. As for the big firms, those managers are just so darned skilled any action they take is admirable. Don’t you agree?

Enjoy the tale of Delphes.

Stephen E Arnold, October 22, 2013

Next Page »