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October 28, 2014

Content Analytics Gets a Natural Language Boost

George Leopold

Natural language processing technology continues to be integrated with “data exploration” and content analytics as vendors seek to offer better tools designed to help enterprises tap into more data and leverage analytics in real time.

Among the leading promoters of this cognitive approach to data exploration is, of course, IBM with its Watson cognitive computing platform. A variation on its earlier data analytics offerings released this week called Watson Explorer seeks to marry natural language capabilities with data exploration and content analytics as a way to help customers understand data context, the so-called “what” and the “why” of enterprise data.

As with other data analytics vendors, IBM hopes to drive cognitive computing-based analytics deeper into enterprises. “Enterprise data and applications are typically siloed and lack the information sharing capacity to facilitate better employee performance,” IBM’s Watson Group stressed in releasing its Watson Explorer analytics tool at a company event in Las Vegas.

For example, IBM said customer Toyota Financial Services is using Watson Explorer in its call centers to provide detailed information on the company’s more than 4 million customers. The system combines content and data from company and public sources. It then presents the information based on the Toyota employee’s job description.

The Watson Group also is banking on the growing amounts of unstructured data ranging from social media to call center transcripts that could represent “untapped business opportunities.” This is where natural language processing could play a larger roll, the IBM unit claims, in spotting unforeseen trends, patterns and correlations.

“If you have a call center, it’s no longer about a script, it’s about a dialogue,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, told the Council of Foreign Relations last year in the months before the Watson Group was officially launched. “If you’re in advertising, its not about a promotion, it’s about a two way discussion to get information.”

The company said it would make new cognitive computing capabilities for Watson Explorer available via the IBM Watson Developer Cloud. In the meantime, Watson Explorer services available now include machine translation, user modeling, relationship extraction along with several other data analytics services, the company said Oct. 28.

IBM will offer Watson Explorer in enterprise and advanced editions. The latter includes content mining and analytics capabilities intended to aggregate and analyze larger sets of unstructured data, the company said.

Watson Explorer also represents the latest attempt by IBM to boost it data services business as it moves away from computer hardware and chip manufacturing. The company announced last week it was selling its chip making operations to GlobalFoundries as it focuses on cloud services and data analytics.

The latter is built around its Watson Group founded in January 2014 to deliver cloud-based cognitive computing applications like big data analytics.

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