Competitive intelligence

Discussion of how text analytics technologies are used for competitive intelligence or “Voice of the Market” applications – i.e., to analyze (usually web-based) information and comments about competitors. Related subjects include:

November 12, 2008

Are denial-of-insight attacks a threat to search logs and/or VOTC/VOTM apps?

TechTaxi points out that it’s at least theoretically possible to, by polluting the Web, pollute somebody’s web-wide information gathering. (Hat tip to Daniel Tunkelang.) They further assert this is a relatively near-term threat.

The theory can’t be denied. What’s more, bad actors have other motives to pollute the Web. For example, if they plant favorable automated comments about their own products or unfavorable about the competition’s, Voice of the Customer/Market applications will naturally be confused. And if automated reputation-checkers get more prominent, there will be a major incentive to game them, just as there has been for Google’s PageRank. So VOTC/VOTM market research tools could polluted as a side effect.

Similarly, if somebody wants to test your e-commerce site by throwing a ton of searches at it, your search logs will lose value.

But disinformation of competitors for the sake of disinformation? Or, as the article suggestions, vandalism/extortion? Off the top of my head, I’m not thinking of a serious near-term threat scenario.

October 24, 2008

Attensity update

I had a brief chat with the Attensity guys at their Teradata Partners Conference booth – mainly CTO David Bean, although he did buck one question to sales chief Jeff Johnson. The business trends story remained the same as it was in June: The sweet spot for new sales remains Voice of the Customer/Voice of the Market, while on-premise/SaaS new-name accounts are split around 50-50 (by number, not revenue).

David’s thoughts as to why the SaaS share isn’t even higher – as it seems to be for Clarabridge* – centered on the point that some customers want to blend internal and external data, and may not want to ship the internal part out to a SaaS provider. Besides, if it’s tabular data, I suspect Attensity isn’t the right place to ship it anyway.

*Speaking of Clarabridge, CEO Sid Banerjee recently posted a thoughtful company update in this comment thread.

When I challenged him on ease of use, David said that Attensity is readying a Microstrategy-based offering, which is obviously meant to compete with Clarabridge and any of its perceived advantages head-on.

September 8, 2008

The layered messaging marketing model as applied to Attensity

My general layered messaging theory survived its first test against an IT vendor example – Netezza. Let’s try another, in this case a company that’s not a Monash Research client. Read more

June 17, 2008

TEMIS tidbits

The usual TEMIS execs didn’t make the trip to the Text Analytics Summit this year. But cofounder Alessandro Zanasi did come, and I chatted with him for a bit. Alessandro is also author of a recent book on text mining, and pretty much a one-man Italian operation for France-based TEMIS. Despite his nominal 100:1 manpower disadvantage vs. Italian national-champion text anayltics vendor Expert System S.p.A., Alessandro proudly rattled off four different Italian government accounts he’d won vs. Expert System, all of them apparently in the government area.

Beyond that, Alessandro denies all the rumors that have grown out of TEMIS being hard to reach recently. He reports that pharma is still TEMIS’s big market, but stresses that this covers a range of apps, from research to Voice of the Market. I do get the sense that TEMIS’s sentiment extraction capabilities are less sophisticated than some of the other vendors’ — but the other vendors I’m thinking of are pretty focused on English, SPSS aside. If you need sentiment analysis in non-English languages — e.g., French or Italian — TEMIS should definitely be on your vendor shortlist.

June 17, 2008

Intro to Lexalytics

I chatted with Lexalytics CEO Jeff Catlin at the Text Analytics Summit today. Lexalytics is a 14 person company, which represents a doubling over last year. Jeff thinks Lexalytics is on track this year to double again.

Lexalytics’ main business is OEMing sentiment extraction, e.g. to the many blog-analysis/reputation-management (i.e., Voice of the Market) companies that recently started up and in some cases have been bought by big market analysis firms. Lexalytics can and sometimes does extract the more basic stuff as well, but sentiment analysis is the heart of its business. A partial customer list can be found on the Lexalytics site. Lexalytics extracts in the English language only. Read more

June 17, 2008

Voice of the Customer/Market is indeed where the action is

I was at the Text Analytics Summit yesterday. After the sessions and theoretically* before the drinks, there was a group of subject- or industry-specific “roundtables.” The three best-attended roundtables by far — each with at least 20% of the total roundtable attendees — were on “Voice of the Market”, “Competitive Intelligence”, and “Sentiment Analysis”. (Yes, those are in practice pretty close to being the same thing.) Thus, over half of the show attendees who voted with their feet on a particular subject area of interest picked one in the customer/marketing area. Read more

June 16, 2008

Attensity update updated

I chatted a bit with Attensity’s CTO David Bean and sales VP Jeff Johnson yesterday at the Text Analytics Summit. Jeff confirmed what has colleagues had already told me — most of the action is now in Voice of the Customer/Market, he expects a very strong June quarter, etc. But one thing I posted last week wasn’t quite right. Hosted implementations (i.e., SaaS) haven’t yet reached the 50% level at Attensity. However, they are indeed growing fast, and they’re all (or almost all) in the Voice of the Customer/Market area.

June 11, 2008

How much linguisitic sophistication is needed in Voice of the Customer/Market applications?

According to Attensity CTO David Bean:

I’m guessing most text mining vendors would agree with those views, although they might not agree with his elaborations, which include: Read more

June 11, 2008

Expert System S.p.A. update

I chatted with Brooke Aker, the new CEO of Expert System’s US subsidiary, for quite a while last week. Unfortunately, we had some cell phone problems, and email followup hasn’t gone well, so I’m hazy on a few details. But here are some highlights, as best I understood them. Read more

June 10, 2008

5 ideas for how to pick between Attensity and Clarabridge

Jim D. of UPS asked in the comment thread to the recent Attensity update post how one should decide between Attensity and Clarabridge. I wrote an answer, and then decided to just split it out in a separate post. Here are five ideas about how to pick between Attensity and Clarabridge for the kind of Voice of the Customer/Market application both companies are focusing on.

1. Attensity is the older company than Clarabridge, and is good at more things. Is Clarabridge really good at everything you want them to be?

2. In particular, Attensity has more overall sophistication at linguistic extraction. Do any of the differences matter to you?

3. Both companies are working hard on ease of use, for multiple kinds of user (business user tweaking linguistic rules, IT user, etc.). Whose approach and feature set do you like better?

4. Usually, buying one of these products involves some professional services. Whose organization do you like better?

5. Attensity’s default database schema for its exhaustive extraction is pretty flat and normalized, as befits a happy Teradata partner. Clarabridge’s is more of a star schema, as befits a bunch of ex-Microstrategy guys. Either can be straightforwardly translated into the other, so you may not care — but do you?

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