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Telco Giant Takes Another Semantic Step

By   /  July 30, 2013  /  No Comments

Starting today, if you’re a customer of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. in Malaysia, you’re going to be able to expand your notions of a more personalized web experience.

The company’s SingTel Digital Life Division has partnered with Nara to integrate its proprietary cloud-based neural network technology into its products. Nara today is best known for providing personalized restaurant recommendations: Its “digital DNA” algorithm adds up the sum of what it learns of what each person likes and doesn’t like regarding dining venues in order to serve up restaurant choices (see our story here).

Personalized experiences for SingTel customers will start at the restaurant level, too, with the Malaysia rollout followed by the debut of these services in Australia and Singapore. Nara always has said that its technology can expand beyond the restaurant domain, however, and a spokesperson for the company says such plans are still in the works, though she can’t provide a more definitive timeline.

The deal is not the first semantic matchup for SingTel, south-east Asia’s largest telecom operator.

Earlier this year, SingTel was involved in another deal boosting the idea of web personalization. It was one of seven pay TV and online providers to hook up with taste engine Jinni to leverage its semantic technology for personalizing the discovery and recommendation of TV and web content.

Also, SingTel Innov8, a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of the SingTel Group that invests in technologies to advance network capabilities, next-gen devices, and digital content services, participated in an investment in Tempo AI just this past June. The $10 million Series A investment round, led by Relay Ventures and Sierra Ventures, was aimed at helping improve the app’s AI and semantic learning machine to harness calendar data and behavior patterns to help anticipate users’ event needs and complete tasks (see story here.)

Interestingly, last year the VC fund also led a $15 million Series B round investment in personalized search engine vendor Ness Computing. Its machine-learning-based recommendation engine plumbs Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and users’ other social networks to deliver, in its current iOS application — yup, restaurant recommendations. Ness also plans to launch personalized search for other categories and experiences in the future.

Such efforts all seem aligned with something that Singtel highlighted in its latest earnings announcement. It disclosed then that Q4 net profit had declined 33% to S$868 million, and also noted plans to transform to drive growth that includecreating innovative and differentiated digital services to enhance the core business and deliver new revenue streams.” It also said it will spend $1.6 billion on “strategic aquisitions” in the digital space over the next three years.  


About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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