The Content Intelligence (CI) market: to be or not to be?

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Last week my article First to the emerging Content Intelligence (CI) market: the FAST Adaptive Information Warehouse was published. In response, a reader commented “definitely an intriguing concept which, when discussing ‘blue-sky’ requirements for Business Intelligence systems, I have heard before from clients.”

So is the CI market real or not? If so, is the CI market at the inception or growth stage? How is it defined? Who are the players? And should enterprise software buyers review CI solutions now?

Inxight was founded in 1997 as a spin-off of Xerox PARC (founder of Windows-like PC desktop icons and the mouse). “Inxight software bridges the gap between Search and BI… and converts information into understanding”. Inxight believes it can save enterprises 60% of time spent searching for information as 85% of corporate information is not in a database nor other structured formats. It claims this wastes $6m per annum for the average 1,000-person company.

Essentially Inxight structures unstructured information. The Inxight SmartDiscovery Extraction Server enriches the data warehouse with more usable data using ‘ETL for text’ facilities. Inxight offers a complete platform for unstructured data acquisition, structuring, validation, and exploration. Inxight has an amazing set of OEM partnerships with Business Objects, SAS, SAP, Oracle, IBM, HP, Google, Interwoven, BEA and many other unlikely bedfellows. These companies include Inxight’s software in their solutions, mainly hidden in the applications engine room, away from the desktop.

So does Ian Hersey, founder of Inxight, think that the CI market is ‘real’ yet? “Definitely for the U.S. Federal government. They are ahead on text” he says. Inxight has more than 125 government agency customers. The Financial Services industry is also showing interest, for example to extract and investigate data from regulatory archives and to spot fraud and insider trading. Publishers, Pharmaceutical and High Tech companies are also keen. Inxight counts opinion leaders such as Procter & Gamble, Cisco, Boeing, Reuters, and Merrill Lynch among their 450 customers.

Ian believes that European adoption is lagging the U.S. currently. However, things are changing. The European Text Analytics Summit in Amsterdam in April includes speakers from Telecom Italia, Pfizer and Philips: “come and find out about their real life deployments” screams the promotion. The big vendor names at this Summit are SAS and SPSS, but the industry rising stars are Inxight, Clarabridge, and Attensity.

Olivier Jouve, VP of Marketing Strategy at SPSS believes “The European Commission is a catalyser (for European market growth) and has supported many initiatives for automatic translation, text analytics, search… they need to respond to the needs of 27 countries, 23 official languages and several dialects”.

Text mining and text analytics are not quite as compelling as the all-embracing promise of data and text integration that Content Intelligence offers. But whichever way you put it there is investment being focused on this market by vendors with ‘skin’ in the game. These include BI vendors, Content Management vendors, Document Management vendors, Search vendors, enterprise software vendors and best-of-breed specialists.

Such market investment tends to blow markets from inception through to growth in double quick time. However, the market leaders are yet to emerge, and there will be supplier casualties as the inherent complexities of enterprise deployments become apparent. These complexities are not only technical, but also in deployment—consulting and other professional services skills are in short supply. “There isn’t any free lunch (for suppliers)” says Ian. Keep watching the CI market, as there are many more interesting vendor plays and market developments yet to come.