I just had a quick chat with text mining vendor Clarabridge’s CEO Sid Banerjee. Naturally, I asked the standard “So who are you seeing in the marketplace the most?” question. Attensity is unsurprisingly #1. What’s new, however, is that Inxight – heretofore not a text mining presence vs. commercially-focused Clarabridge – has begun to show up a bit this quarter, via the Business Objects sales force. Sid was of course dismissive of their current level of technological readiness and integration – but at least BOBJ/Inxight is showing up now.
The most interesting point was text mining SaaS (Software as a Service). When Clarabridge first put out its “We offer SaaS now!” announcement, I yawned. But Sid tells me that about half of Clarabridge’s deals now are actually SaaS. The way the SaaS technology works is pretty simple. The customer gathers together text into a staging database – typically daily or weekly – and it gets sucked into a Clarabridge-managed Clarabridge installation in some high-end SaaS data center. If there’s a desire to join the results of the text analysis with some tabular data from the client’s data warehouse, the needed columns get sent over as well. And then Clarabridge does its thing.
It has always been the case that business intelligence was an IT systems software technology that often wound up being sold on an application basis to end-user departments. Clarabridge very much fits that model. And while it used to be the case that BI adoption was pretty simple, that’s increasingly not the case, which is one reason SaaS is appealing. So this all makes a lot of sense.
Even so, I was surprised to hear that SaaS had so quickly become half of Clarabridge’s business. Wow.
Since Clarabridge touts Cognos as an important partner, and Cognos is being bought by IBM, I also asked Sid about UIMA. He basically responded that UIMA was unlikely to become relevant to Clarabridge any time soon, because the way Clarabridge interfaces with other software is SQL. Up to a point, that makes great sense to me. But if we buy into the comprehensive/exhaustive extraction story — as Clarabridge does — then the day should and will come when serious linguistic processing gets done on text after it is extracted into a relational database. And if that happens, then all of a sudden SQL won’t be the only interface integrating text analytics with BI.