Smartlogic: Making Indexing a Thing

May 29, 2020

Years ago, one of the wizards of Smartlogic visited the DarkCyber team. The group numbered about seven of my loyal researchers. These were people who had worked on US government projects, analyses for now disgraced banks in NYC, and assorted high technology firms. Was the world’s largest search system in this list? Gee, I don’t recall.

In that presentation, Smartlogic’s wizard explained that indexing, repositioned as tagging was important. Examples of the values of metatagging (presumably a more advanced form of the 40 year old classification codes used in the ABI/INFORM database since — what? — 1983. Smartlogic embarked on a mini acquisition spree, purchasing the interesting Schemalogic company about a decade ago.

What did Schemalogic do? In addition to being a wonderland for Windows Certified Professionals, the “server” managed index terms. The idea was that people in different departments assigned key words to different digital entities; for example, an engineer might assign the key word “E12.” This is totally clear to a person who thinks about resistors, but to a Home Economics graduate working in marketing the E12 was a bit of a puzzle. The idea that an organization in the pre Covid days could develop a standard set of tags is a fine idea. There are boot camps and specialist firms using words like taxonomy or controlled terms in their marketing collateral. However, humans are not too good at assigning terms. Humans get tired and fall back upon their faves. Other humans are stupid, bored, or indifferent and just assign terms and be done with it. Endeca’s interesting Guided Navigation worked because the company cleverly included consulting in a license. The consulting consisted of humans who worked up the needed vocabulary for a liquor store or preferably an eCommerce site with a modest number of products for sale. (There are some computational challenges inherent in the magical Endeca facets.)

Consequently massive taxonomy projects come and then fade. A few stick around, but these are often hooked to applications with non volatile words. The Engineering Index is a taxonomy, but its terminology is of scant use to an investment bank. How about a taxonomy for business? ABI/INFORM created, maintained, and licensed its vocabulary to outfits like the Royal Bank of Canada. However, ABI/INFORM moved into the brilliant managers at other firms. I assume a biz dev professional at whatever owner possesses rights to the vocabulary will cut a deal.

Back to Smartlogic.

Into this historical stew, Smartlogic offered a better way. I think that was the point of the marketing presentation we enjoyed years ago. Today the words have become more jargon centric, but the idea is the same: Index in a way that makes it possible to find that E12 when the vocabulary of the home ec major struggles with engineer-speak.

Our perception evolved. Smartlogic dabbled in the usual markets. Enterprise search vendors pushed into customer support. Smartlogic followed. Health and medical outfits struggled with indexing content and medical claims form. Indexing specialists followed the search vendors. Smartlogic has enthusiastically chased those markets as well. An exit for the company’s founders has not materialized. The dream of many — a juicy IPO — must work through the fog of the post Covid business world.

The most recent pivot is announced this way:


Smartlogic now offers indexing for these sectors expressed in what may be Smartlogic compound controlled terms featuring conjunctions. There you go, Bing, Google, Swisscows, Qwant, and Yandex. Parse these and then relax the users’ query. That’s what happens to well considered controlled terms today DarkCyber knows.

  • Energy and utilities
  • Financial services and insurance
  • Health care
  • High tech and manufacturing
  • Media and publishing
  • Life sciences
  • Retail and consumer products
  • and of course, intelligence (presumably business, military, competitive, and enforcement).

Is the company pivoting or running a Marketing 101 game plan?

DarkCyber noted that Smartlogic offers a remarkable array of services, technologies (including our favorites semantic and knowledge management), and — wait for it — artificial intelligence.

Interesting. Indexing is versatile and definitely requires a Swiss Army Knife of solutions, a Gartner encomium, and those pivots. Those spins remains anchored to indexing.

Want to know more about Smartlogic? Navigate to the company’s Web site. There’s even a blog! Very reliable outfit. Quick response. Objective. Who could ask for anything more?

Stephen E Arnold, May 29, 2020


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