tiistai 28. elokuuta 2012

Post scriptum on SEMTECHBIZ conference in San Francisco 3-7. 6. 2012

The Semantic Technology & Business Conference (SemTechBiz) was held in SFO in early June-. It was my first time in the series of conferences, so I have no perspective on previous years, but many people concluded that this year there were a bigger number of solid larger customer cases. In addition, some big players were on the move, namely IBM, Oracle and Software AG.

Sorry, this post comes kinda late, but here is my brief summary with some highlights.

Status of semantic technology in business context

My personal hunch is that over the next year or so other big players will take they share of growing semantic information management market and reasons are:

  • Linked Open Data (LOD) is here to stay and it is implemented on top of semantic web technologies and concepts
  • Remarkable co-operation among search giants http://schema.org/ promotes use of RDF in order add semantic metadata on every internet, as well as intra pages in the whole world. Search engines including Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right web pages.
  • Even though semtech is not yet in the software mainstream, bigger vendors and content providers - who want to take larger share of management of unstructured information – will step forward and embed semtech into their solution.
  • There are some significant enough business cases leading the way, such as Staples integrating their information silos using business ontology. I discussed with some smart people who had interesting and groundbreaking ideas of how to utilize semtech in their organization to create completely new type of business capabilities. IBM is developing their “social CRM”; Wells Fargo looks for solution to survey people’s activities and sentiment regarding critical financial actions, which may be concealed when using traditional tracking of people and their transactions.


In the closing panel, the members claimed “predictions” for the coming year. Members were Dave McComb, Semantic Arts Inc. Arnaud Le Hors, IBM; Christine JM. Connors, TriviumRLG LLC; Craig Hanson, Amdocs; David Booth, PanGenX.com; Jim Hendler, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Joe Devon, Fox; Marie Wallace, IBM. Following is just my subjective captions on their predictions:

  • More applications that will combine data and semantics – the new Google.Com semantic search leading the way.
  • Ashok Malhotra from Oracle predicts that REST + endpoint URI (Linked data approach) will replace traditional Web Services APIs (which is just too complicated to scale)
  • Text analytics will be merged in biz applications (plain language search)
  • Number of semantic biz applications will grow, although users may not beware of technology under the hood (and why should they ;-)?)
  • Social SW and semantics will meet each other (IBM internally developing social intranet and moving towards social CRM)
  • Google Knowledge Graph will change the expectations and behavior on search engines – if success.
  • Less “fear” in industry to try and adopt semantic technology
  • Acquisitions of smaller vendors, big vendors to buy knowledge since time is running out
  • Wikidata project may have great impact. It is a project that aims to create a free knowledge base about the world that can be read and edited by humans and machines alike.
  • Semtech products will scale to enterprise class, for example some triplet DBs already beat RDMS in handling fragmented triplet data
  • More complete and up-to-date management of information since using intelligent data aggregation and mash up together with social media (dynamic user profile based augmentation)
  • Open graph goes mobile. The Open Graph protocol enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph. For instance, this is used on Facebook to allow any web page to have the same functionality as any other object on Facebook.
  • Better user experience expected, as new consumer apps are developed.
  • A Distributed Information Management Systems will become important for IM scene. DIMS is a layer above your current DBMS, just as if a DBMS is a layer above a file system.

Towards web of data

Talking about Internet evolution, we moved from storing documents in web to creating web of documents. Now we are witnessing transformation from storing data in web (web services, accessing data bases through web etc.) to managing web of data (structured i.e. queryable semantic data made available via open end points). As Martin Romacker[1] put it:

Martin Romacker, Senior Knowledge Engineering Consultant Novartis Pharma AG, NIBR IT- Text Mining Services : “The Semantic Web allows for a simple and almost seamless integration of data, (integration/ federation vs. proliferation). The resources in the LODD cloud are connected and easy to exploit, (no need for dedicated ETL processes, no need for an in-depth analysis of the *semantic* model)”

The situation was nicely illustrated by Andreas Blumauer from Semantic Web Company.


RESTful connectivity over full blown SOA

As one Oracle researcher stated, SOA with comprehensive WSDL/UDDI/SOAP-messages is just too expensive and slow to take over larger than organization/systems wide territories. RESTful has become de facto standard for requesting and transferring data between web-connected systems and applications. Now it is taking over the home land of SOA – even large “SOA vendors” are starting to use it internally in their product suite.

SKOS standard – it really make sense!

SKOS standard by W3C is becoming the de facto structured taxonomy and thesaurus standard. There were at least two very powerful tools demonstrated:

o PoolParty by Semantic Web Company.

o TopBraid Enterprise Vocabulary Net by Top Quadrant,

Scema.org for SEO

Those who are serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), should study and comply with http://schema.org/ . It promotes use of RDF in order to add semantic metadata on every internet, as well as intra pages in the whole world. Search engines including Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex rely on this embedded markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right web pages.

Cheers, Heimo

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