by Charles Roe
In an effort to leverage the knowledge of several of the top minds in the Data Management industry, DATAVERSITY™ has been conducting a series of interviews on some of the most relevant topics in the field today. Recently, we interviewed Cambridge Semantics, the creators of the award-winning Anzo software suite, an open platform for building interactive Unified Information Access (UIA) solutions.
Cambridge Semantics is a Gold Sponsor at the Enterprise Data World 2013 Conference in San Diego, CA from April 28-May 2, 2013.
The Sponsor Spotlight Column (and its parallel venture the Speaker Spotlight Column) is an ongoing project that focuses on highlighting several of the central issues represented at the many Data Management conferences produced by DATAVERSITY.
The primary emphasis of the interview was to question Lee Feigenbaum, the VP of Marketing, and Cambridge Semantics on their current work and history within the industry, with particular importance on the products and/or services being highlighted at the upcoming conference:
DATAVERSITY (DV): Please tell us a little about you and your company (e.g. brief history, industry focus, primary product line etc.)?
We started Cambridge Semantics in 2007 with the vision of transforming the way enterprises work with data through the strategic adoption of Semantic Web technologies. We’re located in Boston, MA, though some of our team members are in New York and Texas. Most of our customers are in the pharma and financial services industries, but we also work with organizations in retail, energy, media, and the government. Our primary product is called Anzo, and today we’re on the 3rd generation of the Anzo software suite.
DV: What’s your company elevator pitch?
Cambridge Semantics provides the award-winning Anzo software suite, an open Unified Information Access (UIA) platform. Enterprises face an increasing need to rapidly discover, analyze, and act on a web of relationships and data from diverse internal and external data sources. Anzo makes it easy for both IT and end users to deal with this need by building and deploying interactive solutions that leverage unified access to structured and unstructured data from varied sources in the context of specific business problems. Our customers in finance, retail, government, pharma, and other industries are using Anzo to solve UIA challenges in areas like competitive intelligence, entity management, compliance, SOA governance, insider-trading detection, MDM, asset management, and more.
DV: What will you be highlighting or showcasing at EDW2013? Are you planning any product releases or announcements this year at Enterprise Data World?
At EDW this year, we’re going to be showcasing solutions in various industries that are made possible by applying semantics to enterprise data management. Some of these solutions include:
- Entity Management. Entity management refers to the challenge of finding and harmonizing information about key business entities regardless of where they occur. Successful entity management requires a far more agile approach than comes from traditional MDM, and we’ll be talking about how a semantic approach to this challenge can give businesses a far more complete understanding of key entities like customers, suppliers, regulators, products, or people.
- Insider Trading Investigation. Insider trading is a constant source of risk to hedge funds, market makers, buy-side and sell-side analysts, and other financial services companies. Traditionally, insider trading surveillance has taken a static, report-oriented approach that draws on a fixed number of sources of information and looks for a small number of pre-defined patterns of behavior. Semantic technologies enable a new, investigational approach to insider trading. By leveraging the flexibility of semantic technologies to bring in key sources of information on the fly, analysts and investigators are empowered to direct their own investigations into potential insider trading in a manner tailored to specific circumstances.
- Pharmacovigilance. Pharma companies face strong ethical, scientific, and regulatory requirements to discover, analyze, understand, and report on potential adverse effects of their products. This traditionally amounts to a painstaking manual effort to aggregate information from diverse sources and to identify the potential adverse event. Semantics allows this process to be automated, and also makes it possible to begin linking pharmacovigilance data with other R&D data to increase the strategic value of the PV data.
DV: What’s the unique selling proposition of your product or service versus your competitors? What do you do that nobody else does (or better than anyone else)?
Our approach to combining data—which we call Unified Information Access—means that you can easily combine not only traditional sources of enterprise data but also information from non-traditional sources like documents, web pages, social media, email, etc. Along the way, Anzo gives end users self-service capabilities to bring in whatever content they need when they need it, without leaning on IT for every changing requirement. And Anzo’s flexibility—made possible because of the underlying semantic technology—also means that our customers are usually deploying solutions in days or weeks rather than months or years.
DV: Why should the Enterprise Data World attendees stop by your booth this year?
We’re a big fan of demos—if you come by our booth, you’ll be able to see our Anzo software in action and talk with us about whether it might help you with any of your enterprise data needs. We also love doing impromptu demos, so if you bring some of your own spreadsheets or documents or other data by the Cambridge Semantics booth, we’ll be happy to load it up in Anzo and show you the results right then and there!
DV: What do you see as the most significant trend happening at this time within the Data Management industry?
There are a lot of well-hyped trends in the industry right now: Big Data, cloud-delivery, social & mobile data, location-aware applications, and more. But we think that one of the most important trends from a strategic point of view is the adoption of industry-specific semantic models that are helping companies and regulators in industries such as finance, pharma, and energy communicate more effectively with each other, especially in the case of unanticipated, ad-hoc requests and responses. Because these are conceptual models—e.g. the Financial Industry Business Ontology (FIBO)—rather than interchange formats, they place a lower burden on companies to replace or retrofit their existing systems.
DV: How is this going to affect your particular business focus? How does your product/service address that trend?
Anzo is a great fit for helping both businesses and regulators begin to generate, exchange, and consume these industry-standard semantic models. The Anzo tools natively supports OWL, the W3C standard for semantic models (ontologies), and Anzo also makes it very easy to map existing data sources to these semantic models without disrupting existing systems. We’re also seeing our customers turn to Anzo as a way to operationalize what can otherwise be overly complex model. This basically means that a customer will use Anzo to work with a manageable subset of an industry model to help manage day-to-day data integration challenges, and then fall back to the full model when the time comes to exchange information with regulators or business partners.
DV: What’s the next thing that your company will be working on in its products?
As is usual, our engineers are working on a lot of enhancements and innovations that will continue to push Anzo forward. One thing that we’re excited about is a slew of information landscape capabilities that we’re adding to Anzo. With these capabilities, Anzo will start auto-discovering, cataloging, and tracking the meaning of the information in any data sources that it connects to. Because Anzo surfaces this information at the semantic/conceptual level, this makes data repositories across the enterprise significantly more discoverable—and therefore valuable—than they’ve been in the past.
We also continue to work on tools to make it drop-dead easy to connect to more and more sources of information. For our customers in sales & marketing, we’re developing a two-way, live connector to Salesforce.com. For our customers with classic Big Data setups, we’re also building connectivity to hadoop, hive, and impala.
DV: What’s the NEXT big thing in Data Management?
We think that many of the trends mentioned above are lining up to facilitate the emergence of enterprise information fabrics. In an information fabric, all data and services across a business are fully semantically described in a standard way. This makes them accessible and securely discoverable to end users, to developers, and to applications. Effectively, your enterprise’s information assets become woven together into a single fabric that lets you access what you need as you need it without paying the costs traditionally associated with data discovery, data translation, data preparation, or data integration.
DV: What is something noteworthy or uniquely interesting about your company that most attendees and readers may not know about, but that you would like them to know?
Despite our name, we’re actually based in Boston, Massachusetts—not Cambridge. In fact, our offices look out over the Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House. If you’re ever in the area, we’d love for you to stop by and visit.
If you are interested in more information about sponsors and exhibitors at EDW2013 see the full listing at: http://edw2013.dataversity.net/sponsors.cfm
About Enterprise Data World:
Enterprise Data World is the business world’s most comprehensive educational event about data and information management. Over five days, EDW presents a diverse schedule of programming that addresses every level of proficiency, including keynotes, workshops, tutorials, case studies, and discussions.