Monday, January 12, 2009

Company Profile: Nstein

Company Profile: Nstein

Company: Nstein URL: http://www.nstein.com/ HQ: Montreal, Canada Products (Primary): Web Content Management, Text Mining Engine, Digital Asset Management, Picture Management Desk Survey Respondents: David Crouy, Christopher Hill Vendor Category: Vendor

Employees: 200 Revenue: $24M Installed base: 115+

Primary Offering:

For the past two years Nstein has been on a mission to integrate its Text Mining Engine (TME) with the Content Management System (CMS) it gained in its acquisition of Eurocortex. After honing TME for several years prior to acquiring Eurocortex, Nstein discovered that many customers either didn’t know what to do with the resulting metadata or there was no way to use the metadata in existing CMS products. By combining Natural Language Processing (NLP) and CMS, Nstein believed it could pursue significant business opportunities and the company’s client list certainly supports their intuition.

TME is a full-blown NLP product capable of extracting and categorizing the metadata contained within documents, specifically the people or organizations, places, and events that are mentioned in these files. Add-on modules are available that provide document summaries, detect sentiment, search for similar documents, as well as topic clustering. The net effect is that customers can process their documents, categorize and provide search capability within the results, and support their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.

For publishers, using metadata to create links to relevant content (their own or third party) and a search engine “friendly” Web site is important in capturing incremental revenue. In fact, Nstein actively positions itself as a company that seeks to create additional revenue opportunities for its customers – more on this in a moment. It’s not unusual for many or most publishers to rely on human editors to create categories, relevant links, and manage the posting of these links to the title’s Web site. Obviously, paying people to perform this task can become expensive at a time when the publishing industry is already experiencing a high degree of turmoil.

Solutions like Nstein’s and others can help to reduce the expense of human tagging or even introduce tagging where there’s been no human available to perform this task. Utlimately, costs can only be reduced to zero and businesses rely on revenues and profits for success. Nstein is cognizant of this fact and tries to point its customers in the right direction – for example, once a publisher’s content has been tagged it can be tailored to produce a feed based on a person, place, or thing. For some publishers this can represent a new and very welcome revenue stream. Another example is a common trait of NLP technology, which is the publication of additional content links that are related to the primary article on a given page. Again, some publishers will find the resulting performance an improvement over their current state of affairs.

Key Differentiators:

Aside from being the only CMS platform (or at least one of the very few) to have integrated NLP, and the company’s active focus on creating revenue opportunities for their customers, Nstein’s products include a “Picture Management Desk” designed to manage, tag, and categorize high volumes of images. In fact, a series of virtual desks can be set up to process images depending on the inbound channel.

Six/Twelve Month Plans:

For the moment, Nstein will continue its focus on improving its text mining and associated performance. The company has additional goals to extract even more information where possible and it plans to begin exploring the use of “analytical” queries such “Who was involved in car crashes over the last six months?” or “How many times was John Doe mentioned in articles related to crime?”

Analysis:

Nstein clearly has a head start on most, if not all other vendors in the Content Management System game. Its combination of CMS and NLP is a natural evolution in the management and delivery of Web content and any customer seeking a CMS solution generally would do well to take a close look at Nstein’s products. Far from being an early stage company, Nstein has proven itself during the lull after the dotcom bust, which makes a very positive statement about the fundamental value the company offers. Add to this track record the combination of CMS, NLP, Picture Management, and Digital Asset Management, and a broad range of possibilities become quite clear – both for Nstein and its customers.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Company Profile: Zemanta Ltd.

Company Profile: Zemanta Ltd.

URL: http://www.zemanta.com/ HQ: Ljubljana, Slovenia Products (Primary): Zemanta Web Service Survey Respondents: Andra┼ż Tori Vendor Category: Deployer

Employees: -- Revenue: -- Installed base: --

Primary Offering:

Zemanta has leapt onto the Semantic Web stage by launching its NLP-based service for bloggers and other content producers. The net effect is that for users, it’s like having a co-writer constantly suggesting related articles, links, and images, and then wrapping up with a set of recommended tags designed to increase search engine discovery. The steady stream of suggestions provides an abundant stock of references that can be used to enhance an article, blog post, etc. It’s easy to imagine how anyone would find these helpful, and equally, it’s easy to imagine a productivity boost as well.

Zemanta presently comes in several different flavors including add-ons for Firefox and Internet Explorer, a plug-in for Windows Live Writer (a Microsoft desktop application designed to publish content directly to many popular blogging services), a server-side plug-in for those hosting WordPress, Movable Type, or Drupal implementations and finally, as of December ’08, Zemanta offers fee-based access to its API (http://www.zemanta.com/api/) capabilities for automatic in-text linking, categorization, related news, related images, tagging and linking to other semantic databases. By covering each one of these bases, Zemanta has positioned itself to reach just about anyone who has an interest in blogging, writing, or content creation generally, anywhere in the world.

Recognizing the broad nature of its potentially vast user base, Zemanta’s solution is tuned for casual writers who may have looser writing styles when compared to professional columnists or authors. In fact, Zemanta’s focus on individual content producers may prove to be a key strategic decision – most, if not all, NLP products are geared toward team or institutional environments where there may be larger goals and needs to be served. Becoming a valued tool for individual content producers is a very different strategic aim and Zemanta may have wisely selected a market with few, if any, entrants.

Key Differentiators:

Just trying Zemanta is enough of a differentiator – it’s one thing to have the desire to enhance your content but it’s very different and far better to have ready made suggestions at hand and immediately usable. If you’re a content producer, writer, or just someone looking for helpful suggestions when you write, you may be delighted to have Zemanta’s assistance.

Other differentiators include plans to broaden the delivery of Zemanta’s service through more familiar applications and the ability to harvest thoughts and suggestions from emerging repositories of linked data, but these two points require more time and development prior to their general availability.

A critical factor in setting Zemanta apart is that even the most computer-challenged user can take advantage of this solution. There’s no need for corporate IT personnel to get involved, no approval process, etc. – simply download the add-on to your browser, visit your favorite blogging site and start writing. This kind of simplicity destroys a number of barriers to adoption and Zemanta deserves credit for taking this approach.

Six/Twelve Month Plans:

A commercial version of Zemanta is planned which will be made available on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis. This version will be targeted toward professional content producers, likely those found in the publishing industry. Once launched, more specialized tools will be soon to follow any offerings to the publishing industry. Zemanta also has plans to apply their solution to more than blogging, although for the time being the company prefers to keep these plans private.

Analysis:

Zemanta is an extremely practical and useful tool that writers of all kinds may find helpful. It only takes a few moments to recognize the potential value of this service, not to mention the sheer helpfulness of having something as tedious as tagging performed automatically.

Returning to company’s market entry point, the decision to pursue individuals initially allows it to acquire recognition, a user base, valuable knowledge from real-world experience, and time to hone its offering to razor sharpness before entering professional/corporate markets. These markets will be pursued primarily in the US and UK, which should certainly keep Zemanta busy for some time to come. Writing may never be quite the same again.