Tag: Analysts

What an Analyst Needs to Do What We Do

Semantic Software Technologies: Landscape of High Value Applications for the Enterprise is now posted for you to download for free; please do so. The topic is one I’ve followed for many years and was convinced that the information about it needed to be captured in a single study as the number of players and technologies had expanded beyond my capacity for mental organization.

As a librarian, it was useful to employ a genre of publications known as “bibliography of bibliographies” on any given topic when starting a research project. As an analyst, gathering the baskets of emails, reports, and publications on the industry I follow, serves a similar purpose. Without a filtering and sifting of all this content, it had become overwhelming to understand and comment on the individual components in the semantic landscape.

Relating to the process of report development, it is important for readers to understand how analysts do research and review products and companies. Our first goal is to avoid bias toward one vendor or another. Finding users of products and understanding the basis for their use and experiences is paramount in the research and discovery process. With software as complex as semantic applications, we do not have the luxury of routine hands-on experience, testing real applications of dozens of products for comparison.

The most desirable contacts for learning about any product are customers with direct experience using the application. Sometimes we gain access to customers through vendor introductions but we also try very hard to get users to speak to us through surveys and interviews, often anonymously so that they do not jeopardize their relationship with a vendor. We want these discussions to be frank.

To get a complete picture of any product, I go through numerous iterations of looking at a company through its own printed and online information, published independent reviews and analysis, customer comments and direct interviews with employees, users, former users, etc. Finally, I like to share what I have learned with vendors themselves to validate conclusions and give them an opportunity to correct facts or clarify product usage and market positioning.

One of the most rewarding, interesting and productive aspects of research in a relatively young industry like semantic technologies is having direct access to innovators and seminal thinkers. Communicating with pioneers of new software who are seeking the best way to package, deploy and commercialize their offerings is exciting. There are many more potential products than those that actually find commercial success, but the process for getting from idea to buyer adoption is always a story worth hearing and from which to learn.

I receive direct and indirect comments from readers about this blog. What I don’t see enough of is posted commentary about the content. Perhaps you don’t want to share your thoughts publicly but any experiences or ideas that you want to share with me are welcomed. You’ll find my direct email contact information through Gilbane.com and you can reach me on Twitter at lwmtech. My research depends on getting input from all types of users and developers of content software applications, so, please raise your hand and comment or volunteer to talk.

Good Will and Responsibility

If you signed up for feeds from this site, new posts have been slow coming. Gilbane’s announcement of an Enterprise Search Practice has not gone unnoticed. The past two weeks have resulted in more good will than this analyst could easily digest and filter. The good news is that ideas for posting on “enterprise search” are already accumulating faster than they can get written, and the number of enthusiastic well-wishers is encouraging. It looks like we have an audience and community of practice in the making. Thank you to all who have sent their support and good cheer.

Quite a number of responses have come from companies who want to discuss their technology offerings and positioning. At Gilbane we are following up on those requests and beginning to schedule time for discussions and presentations. With the recognition that vendors/suppliers of technologies want ink, and plenty of it, comes a responsibility of which I am acutely aware because I was one of that community for over 20 years. Having founded, in 1980, and lead an integrated library automation firm in the corporate arena, I know how industry press coverage can make or break the fortunes of even the best offerings. While blogs are intended to launch and promote discussions, even play devil’s advocate, I don’t take this role lightly. Every good intention and hard work by vendors deserves thoughtful and unbiased consideration. It deserves to have analysts who know what they are talking about, and those that would present what they can fairly assess in a useful context. The very definition of analyst (noun) supposes a responsible action, to analyze (verb) the offerings. While my analysis may not focus on what a vendor wants me to consider, it will try to present information that is both helpful and thought-provoking without being mean-spirited or dismissive, and content that helps potential users of the technology focus their own choices and decisions.

Now it’s time to get down to business and start making this a more frequent happening. Based on a number of comments, let’s begin with clarifying what we mean by enterprise search at Gilbane. While the marketplace often categorizes enterprise search as a specific kind of search product, we at Gilbane don’t. Any technology that serves any type of enterprise by helping it find electronic or physical content through an electronic search interface is fair game. Enterprise search is about looking for content in the organization or for the organization. It may be embedded in a specialized application, may be a platform designed to collectively search and aggregate content from many internal silos, or it may combine search of desktops, enterprise hard drives and the Internet. There is a very big universe of content out there; enterprises need all the search tools they can (afford to) leverage to harvest what they need and when they need it.

Now this analyst’s job is to give you a balance between what the vendors are saying and offering, and what the users really need, and get the two engaging more effectively with each other.

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