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Text analytics market 'stalls' as big data concepts gain traction

Text analytics market slows, data interoperability becomes a thing, and CIO priorities become regionalized: The Data Mill reports.

For the last couple of years, Seth Grimes, founder of the consultancy Alta Plana Corp. in Washington D.C., has delivered a state of the text analytics market. In 2012 and 2013, he reported positive outlooks, but he called this year "a bit different" because he believes "the advance of text analytics as a market category has stalled."

Pay attention to the phrase "as a market category," because the slowdown Grimes refers to doesn't mean actual technology development is waning. In fact, text analytics has never been more popular or more mature. These days, it's just "happening under other names," Grimes said in an interview with SearchCIO.

Vendors are increasingly embedding text analytics capabilities such as natural language processing into enterprise applications deployed by just about every corner of the business -- from customer service to market research to social media monitoring. "And, in a way, that's analogous to the situation we've seen for decades now with artificial intelligence," he said. "There's no particular product called 'artificial intelligence,' but when you see an automated translation engine or a Google self-driving car, that's artificial intelligence in operation."

In addition, text analytics tools are being integrated into an enterprise's analytics software tools so that the business can analyze a variety of data. Blame it on big data, Grimes says. "One of the V's in big data is variety," which means text -- just like transactional, operational, social and machine data -- should no longer be analyzed in a silo, he said. In fact, for several businesses, one factor motivating their dive into big data analytics is the potential for rich insights that could come from combining different types of data -- internal and external alike.

The Data Mill

"That's part of the big data message," Grimes said. "That you should match up transactional records with analysis of social postings, if you can make that connection."

In other words, Grimes' observation that text analytics as a market category is slowing down also reflects the growing belief that data types, such as text, are less powerful alone than they are together.

Data interoperability on the rise

One way customers are accessing external data is through data as a service providers, Grimes said. He pointed to Gnip -- recently acquired by Twitter -- DataSift, Moreover Technologies and Spinn3r as examples of data aggregators "that not only collect high velocity, high volume data from various sources, but they also attach metadata to it in order to support filtering and subselection," he said.

The rise of the data as a service provider has been in play for the last three or four years -- and, in the case of the online news business, even longer -- but a new trend taking shape is something Grimes called "data interoperability."

"Various providers of analytical and operational technologies are realizing that their customers are using multiple companies and that they need to support the interchange of data, not maintain a data silo in their own platforms," Grimes said.

Data as a service providers are making data available through application programming interfaces, and vendors are increasingly building platforms to import that data through a direct adaptor connection or on an ad-hoc basis, Grimes said.

Regionalization and CIO priorities

New Gartner research indicates CIO priorities differ considerably by region. "Just as our businesses are unique, our digital footprints are becoming all the more unique," Dave Aron, Gartner analyst, said in a press release. Here are four takeaways from the global survey of 2,339 CIOs:

1. North America: Gartner research indicates 62% of North American CIOs plan to change technology and sourcing strategies in the next two to three years. The percentage is low compared to other geographies such as China, where 82% of CIOs reported they plan to do the same. Aron warns North American CIOs "not to become complacent."

2. China: IT budgets increased 13% in China in 2014, according to Gartner's research. That's well above the global average of 0.2%. One notable area of investment? The public cloud. Sixty-one percent of Chinese CIO survey takers reported making "a significant investment in public cloud." Globally, the average is closer to 25%, according to Gartner.

3. U.K. and Ireland: Sixty-five percent of the CIOs in the United Kingdom and Ireland said they expected to increase IT sourcing "in the near future." Gartner believes this is for two reasons: The first is to cut costs; the second is to become more agile by forming "partnerships with external service providers." That could pose a challenge to the public sector because, according to Aron, "the current rules and regulations favor large suppliers and long-term contracts."

4. Latin America: CIOs in Latin America report that 25% of IT investments are done outside of the IT budget, according to Gartner. For some areas in Latin America, the percentage is greater than others. In Brazil, for example, that number is closer to 34%.

Previously on The Data Mill: The big data market must converge, just not yet.

Welcome to The Data Mill, a weekly column devoted to all things data. Heard something newsy (or gossipy)? Email me or find me on Twitter at @TT_Nicole.

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What data as a service provider are you using?
Yes, as the hype settles down and best practices mature into standard vendor operating procedure, the buzz moves on. Apache Spark was trending upward at the Useful Business Analytics conference last week.