Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: SemWeb Industry Review, Method and Making Progress

It's time for another progress report - I haven't posted any recent entries to this blog because I've been busy with this project. Even so, since my review of the Semantic Web industry will include a description of my method, I figured I'd get a head start by outlining my approach below. A version of this will appear in the report:
  • Picking the companies is never a perfect process, especially for an initial review. Factors that contributed to being covered by this report include being primarily product based as opposed to consulting services based, some kind of sponsorship at a conference (it's an indicator of success & maturity), and being in "general release" and not beta (a fuzzily enforced criterion). At this point I estimate that 18 companies will be covered.
  • Assemble a list of relevant questions designed to uncover basic business issues, product capabilities, trends, and future plans. These questions were reviewed by a small subset of vendors to ensure fairness, relevance and adequate coverage of key issues.
  • Interviews with key personnel. This is really the heart of the process - the discussion, Q&A, and general exchange involved in covering my questions is what provides the illumination that I'm seeking.
  • Writing company profiles based on the discussions and publicly available information. These are all going to be between one to two pages long and they'll contain a description of the company's primary product, what that product does, plans for the next six to twelve months and some light analysis. There'll be other basic information as well.
  • Submit the profiles to the companies for review. In my view, this is a key step to ensure accuracy. Note that the analysis contained in the body of the report will not be made available for review in this fashion.
  • Summary and analysis, which is where I review the company profiles, develop my findings, and state my observations and comments.
I'm very much in the thick of things right now, but there's always time for trivia:
  • 11 interviews complete, 7 profiles written.
  • The companies span time zones ranging from GMT -7 to GMT +9.
  • 11 are headquartered in North America, 7 are headquartered in Europe, 1 is in Korea.
  • August is global vacation month - no kidding. Why do we even bother with Q3?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Semantic Web Industry Review - Progress Report

If you're reading this, you may know that I'm engaged in a Semantic Web industry review based on interviews with the leading industry entrants. Once this phase is complete, I'll reflect upon and analyze my interactions and write up the results. My target for publishing this (free) report is the end of September. Here's where I stand:
Aduna - interview being scheduled
Cambridge Semantics - interview complete
Franz - interview being scheduled
Garlik - interview being scheduled
Intellidimension - awaiting initial response
Mondeca - interview complete
Ontoprise - interview being scheduled
Ontos - interview complete
Ontotext Lab - interview being scheduled
OpenLink Software - interview complete
Primal Fusion - special case: pre-launch
Saltlux - interview being scheduled
Sandpiper Software - interview being scheduled
Siderean Software - interview being scheduled
Sindice - special case: pre-launch
Talis - interview being scheduled
Thetus - interview scheduled
TopQuadrant - interview being scheduled
Dow Jones Client Solutions - interview scheduled
ITA Software - special case: pre-launch
The Calais Initiative - interview complete
Twine/Radar Networks - interview scheduled
Yahoo!/SearchMonkey - awaiting response

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Note To Self - Virtual:Conceptual as WWW:SW

The World Wide Web is the virtualization layer. All digital assets (databases, files, executables, down to the record level) can connect in a consistent, universal, two-way fashion. 
The Semantic Web is the conceptual layer. The virtualized assets can be combined and linked. Those links can be used by people, machines, other (imagine emailing someone a link to a Web page). It's an important concept, because you as a person are more than what's contained in a credit card database, blog, school transcript, etc. With the SW you can link all those assets together and create a more complete picture of yourself.
In an enterprise, this could be a more complete picture of a customer, chemical compound, financial market, etc.
See the ugly picture with non-standard symbols & terminology (I'll replace it with something nicer - full size here):

Friday, August 1, 2008

Industry Report - Brief Update

I've been in radio silence temporarily as I ramp up the organizational process and start speaking with companies. Response to my invitations has been swift, strong, and enthusiastic.  Nearly all the companies I've contact have agreed to participate in my survey and one or two more have written expressing interest in being included. To be fair, the companies that have chosen not to participate are still in pre-release/stealth mode, but I wanted to make sure they at least had the choice to join in. At this point, I've either scheduled conference calls with each company or doing so is in process, so there's been no hesitation on anyone's part to get started.
The two vendors I've already interviewed have been around for several years and their comments reflect their experience. What struck me the most was their evolution has been based on real-world experience that occurred before the Semantic Web was formalized by the W3C. Each founding team came with hands-on exposure to significant IT infrastructure problems and the recognition that Semantic Web technology is very well suited to solving these problems.
What's also come out of these conversations confirms that the differences will be in the details. Bear in mind I've only interviewed two companies so far and they don't compete with each other. But each one has taken subtle but substantial steps to differentiate the results their customers receive and likewise, the value of these results. Sorry, you'll have to wait for the report for me to clarify that rather vague statement.
More updates to come.