You don't have to be Amazon.com to tap these capabilities. Information-access tools from providers such as OpenText bring the benefits of semantic computing to enterprise business challenges. For instance, The Globe and Mail is using OpenText technology to evolve and improve the Web experience by moving beyond traditional search that returns content based on keyword match. OpenText Semantic Navigation enables The Globe and Mail to anticipate and "telepathically" connect relevant content to its readers' needs.
Semantic Search and Navigation Are Well on Their Way
I've been helping OpenText with market strategy surrounding semantic navigation and other capabilities from Nstein, a company OpenText acquired earlier this year to complement its enterprise content management (ECM) solutions. I've known Nstein for five years. The OpenText acquisition is an affirmation of their work in text mining, sentiment analysis and semantic search, which provide tools that enable next-generation publishing, commerce, Web applications and data analysis. The market now enjoys a huge opportunity to leverage semantic technology to meet here and now business challenges.
Start with making information findable, for instance, at an online commerce or media site. The goal is to direct website visitors to the product information or content they're seeking which, of course, will help them carry out transactions and create a more satisfying website experience. In this case, semantic navigation means, for instance, providing search facets, which sort information (products, content, etc.) into high-level categories that may reflect a descriptive category (toys, clothes, houseware, books) or that may reflect a property (price tiers, age ranges, materials) or both.
In a media scenario, we may have facets for topics, people, organisations and places, whatever matches the need at hand. Really there are a broad set of possibilities when the interface is powered by assets such as taxonomies, which help publishers categorise information, and content analytics, which is software that identifies names, places, events and facts, and also opinions and attitudes, in text and rich-media sources.
You can see these capabilities in action at sites such as Cyberpresse.ca and OpenText's own site-the company is "eating its own dog food," as the saying goes-and elsewhere on the Web.
Interest and uptake will continue to grow as we understand the possibilities offered by semantic search and navigation. Web and enterprise users will become accustomed to interacting with and exploring information, and there will be no going back to plain-old keyword search and low-value hit lists of search results.
Seth Grimes is an analytics strategist with Washington DC-based Alta Plana Corporation, founding chair of the Text Analytics Summit and the Sentiment Analysis Symposium, and contributing editor at TechWeb's Intelligent Enterprise. He consults, writes, and speaks on business intelligence, data management and analysis systems, text mining, visualisation and related topics.
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