December 27, 2006

Telling Attensity and ClearForest apart

So far as I can tell, Attensity’s strategy when the company was originally founded was rather like ClearForest’s strategy today – and vice-versa. That said, here’s where they seem to stand at this time:

The guy I usually talk with at ClearForest, Jay Henderson, believes that text analytics is a collection of dozens of niche markets. Not coincidentally, a lot of ClearForest’s customers are in the publishing sector (I’ve remarked on ClearForest’s synergy with Mark Logic before). Attensity obviously is trying a broader play. In Jay’s view, Inxight and TEMIS are more analogous to ClearForest than Attensity is, except that Inxight is focused on different markets (e.g. OEM and/or search), and he thinks ClearForest is just better than Temis except in a couple of specific kinds of understanding (e.g., life sciences, sentiment).

That said, both Attensity and ClearForest credibly claim to do large fractions of what the other one does. ClearForest, as the currently nichier player, takes the traditional stance “We do everything they do, and more. Most of our customers are ones who really appreciate the difference.” Attensity conveys the equally traditional attitude “We do most of what they do, and a bunch of other stuff besides. And it’s better-packaged too. As for what they do that we don’t – not a lot of customers really have a need for it.”

Frankly, most enterprises that have a need for this technology should put both Attensity and ClearForest on their short lists. But here’s one technical note that may help predict who you’ll wind up actually selecting: Attensity’s lead strategy for integration is to dump everything into relational tables, for conventional analytics-stack products like Business Objects’ and Teradata’s to manipulate. ClearForest’s lead strategy for integration has more of an SOA/XML flavor, grown out of conventional OO. If one of those sounds like an obviously better fit to your situation than the other, then that’s the vendor you absolutely, positively should not leave out of your evaluation process.


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