Leading software vendors invest in the nascent Content Intelligence (CI) market

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Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

On May 22nd 2007 Business Objects acquired its business partner Inxight and its text analytics, federated search, and data visualization software. Business Objects will offer access to both structured information within databases and data warehouses, and unstructured information such as emails, documents, notes fields, and web content thus “extending BI to embrace enterprise search”.

Business Objects described this as a “bold move”, “a strategic and game changing opportunity” and “an innovative leap forward”. CEO John Schwarz said “…looking at fraud detection, regulatory compliance, the voice of the customer, or intelligence and counter-terrorism, text analytics can help predict important events before they happen and find opportunities before the competition”. Ian Bonner, CEO of Inxight said “BusinessObjects XI will provide cleansing, auditing, and data processing capabilities… while the Business Objects reporting, analysis and dashboards will… bring these technologies into the mainstream.” This acquisition effectively endorses the Content Intelligence marketplace.

Have they been reading my articles I wonder? Since my article First to the emerging Content Intelligence (CI) market: the FAST Adaptive Information Warehouse I have had many requests to present and write about Content Intelligence. Both the above article and The Content Intelligence (CI) market: to be or not to be? are the most popular articles ever published on IT-analysis.com and are still No1 and No2 in the current charts, although written in February. The concept of Content Intelligence has clearly caught the imagination of our readers.

This Business Objects acquisition follows within weeks of Reuters’ acquisition of text analytics vendor ClearForest. Barak Pridor, CEO of ClearForest, said “(the acquisition) will enable Reuters customers to efficiently and profitably search the wealth of news, financial and other relevant information available today, as well as to derive previously unavailable business insights from that content.”

In December 2006 Informatica acquired business partner Itemfield for $55m whose software enables access to unstructured and semi-structured data without any custom programming, and now forms part of the Informatica PowerCenter data integration platform. Also in December Oracle acquired Content Management supplier Stellant for $440m stating that Content Management had become a strategic focus. Oracle is understood to be developing a Content Intelligence solution.

Finally Cognos, just two weeks ago, issued a statement saying “Given the recent interest in the convergence of BI and unstructured data… an update on Cognos’ progress in this area”. Cognos points to its partnering relationships with Clarabridge and Autonomy, and a case study customer in BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

I would contend that many of the big suppliers have largely ignored (or mis-read) the latent customer demand for Content Intelligence. For example, at an Oracle User Group meeting an attendee told me “I sold content management software for a major vendor, and customers quite often asked me for ‘Content Intelligence’. I tried to limit their thinking to the document management solutions we offered”.

Vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and SAS had OEM agreements with Inxight (they must all be re-thinking that strategy right now…) and had a somewhat passive interest in a relatively small (c. $200m) text analytics market that centred on scientific, technical, academic, and research applications. Until now that is. Content Intelligence is about to take off in the commercial world, big time. Expect a flurry of acquisitions as the big stack vendors gobble up these small specialist software vendors. Also expect BI to appear not only in text, but also in voice, image, and web 2.0 applications and technologies in the near future.