Thoughts on the Text Analytics Summit

Overall, the conference was very interesting and well worth attending, from our perspective. Good attendance – 190 versus 140 last year – and a better mix of users and vendors, though not clear how many of those users came because of vendor sponsorships. Nevertheless it made for better discussions rather than vendors talking to themselves.

  • There wasn’t a lot to set one vendor apart from another. A lot of the vendor presentations were quite similar. This was summed up by a presentation from Ernest & Young at the end of Day 2, where ostensibly there as an Autonomy customer, the presentation actually showed tools from Megaputer and Seagate’s Metalincs, as well as Autonomy and he said ‘any of those guys next door [in the vendor exhibit space] could do this.” Quite.
  • SaaS will be one area where vendors can differentiate themselves from the pack, at least in the dshort term – Clarabridge and Attensity are leading the way there.
  • The thing most people wanted to know about was sentiment analysis. There’s a lot of vendors out there as we’ve noted before and a fair amount of confusion on the part of prospective users as to what it is, why it’s useful and what it might do for them. There will definitely be vendor consolidation over the next year in this space
  • The pre-conference workshop where I presented my overview of the vendor landscape was much more fun than I’d anticipated – I think my vendor overview went well – thought I wasn’t clear in what way it was a workshop, really just a couple of presentations from Seth Grimes and myself with questions afterwards, although we did some great follow-up in the bar, I guess that counts towards it! We had about 40 people there and over the next two days I met a few who said they didn’t show up because it was Father’s Day (word to the wise when organizing conferences ;)). For anyone waiting for my slides, I will send them to you, just drop me a line.
  • Everyone wanted to know what Facebok was doing and although it was interesting, I found it a little underwhelming, even if it was quite fun. Still they clearly have some very smart people there. What a corpus on which to experiment – the writing on everyone’s walls. I’m sure they’ll come up with more interesting applications of text analysis over time; indeed the presenter acknowldted that things like term disambiguation and sentiment analysis are on the roadmap, which is where things will ge interesting.
  • The EU government intelligence market may prove lucrative for some of these vendors, we intend to investigate that further ourselves.
  • As with any relatively obscure technology area, those implementing text analysis need to get some quick wins under their belt rather than go for the hardest problem first – Gaylord Hotels and Intuit (both Clarabridge customers, Clarabridge was the main sponsor) both emphasized that, as did others.
  • There was very little talk of semantic technologies, despite my best efforts to drum some up. I think that will change as text analysis and semantic tech are much more closely related than the players therein seem to want to admit.
  • There was perhaps too much content, a lot of presentations which fed the problem I mentioned earlier, of many vendors sounding very similar to one another.
  • There was not enough to be heard from the large vendors that have built or bought their way into this market – notably SAP-Business Objects (they was one person there from the Inxight team, but not presenting); SAS Insitiutite had a lot of people on the attendee list but most of them didn’t show for some reason, and although IBM had one presentation, I would have liked to have seen more. Microsoft’s presence was Matthew Hurst, who is clearly thinking pretty far ahead in terms of social media analysis and got a lot of people’s attention, including mine.

I’ll definitely be back next year.

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3 comments ↓

#1 Seth Grimes on 06.20.08 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for posting Nick. I’ve linked to the articles I’ve found, including this one and Katey’s, and added some commentary at http://www.intelligententerprise.com/blog/archives/2008/06/news_surprises.html

Seth

#2 Tom H. C. Anderson on 06.29.08 at 8:15 pm

Interesting summary Nick. I agree with you based on our experience there last year. We wanted to be there again this year but we had prior engagements speaking about our text mining approach including sentiment analysis at the ESOMAR Innovate conference in Copenhagen (We were nominated for best paper), and at AMA’s Advanced Research Techniques Forum in NC. I also agree with you RE interesting to leverage text mining on SNS like Facebook. We should have something interesting to share on this by end of year πŸ˜‰

-Tom
Anderson Analytics, LLC
http://www.andersonanalytics.com

#3 Text Analytics Summit 2009 — Too much information on 06.04.09 at 8:49 am

[…] I though I’d hear about and did: sentiment analysis. Last year it was the undercurrent of the conference. This year it came very much to the surface. There […]