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November 24, 2010

Table of Contents

Competitive intelligence: Capturing a wider view
Unveiling MarkLogic Server 4.2
Jump right in, the filters are fine
The compliance imperative
Teradata Unified LDM Announced
eGain unveils Social Experience
Attivio Launches AIE for SharePoint Integration
Semantico Helps CAB Direct Get Onboard with Google
Leveraging the Web to attract flooring customers

Competitive intelligence: Capturing a wider view

Getting a handle on your competitors’ activities requires checking an increasing number of sources. Searching for news items, monitoring social media and analyzing Internet traffic on competitors’ sites all contribute to understanding the competitive landscape. A competitive intelligence (CI) program should cover all three of those sources to provide a comprehensive understanding of the competition and your company’s place in the market.

Quick and comprehensive

Tekelec is a broadband data management company that has automated the collection of competitive intelligence using the Digimind platform. The company does business in a fast-growing and global market with a changing set of needs. Tekelec’s products allow interoperability between network technologies while the telecom industry is transitioning to all IP-networks. Its product groups include core infrastructure, mobile messaging and network performance monitoring.

The range of solutions that Tekelec offers and the many geographical regions in which the company operates led to a challenging situation for competitive intelligence gathering. Manual data collection was time-consuming and possibly incomplete, and the multiple teams that were involved ran the risk of duplicating each other’s efforts. As a result, Tekelec decided to find an automated solution that would be quicker and more comprehensive.

The company chose the Digimind platform because it monitored all the targeted online data sources, including publications, blogs, competitors’ websites and scientific data from the deep Web. It also encompassed all stages of the competitive intelligence process, from data collection to analysis, visualization and information sharing.

The team that was implementing the Digimind platform identified the sources that the search would target, and developed a list of search terms to bring in the information. That information is then analyzed with tools that provide clustering, event analysis and other techniques for interpreting the data. In addition, the software presents the results in visual form, such as maps or timelines, to make the information more readily understandable.

Tekelec reports that the use of Digimind has helped the company keep track of other vendors’ activities, detect trends and identify emerging technologies. Because the information is archived, the company can go back and re-evaluate it even if it was transient at the original source and is no longer available.

More than data collection

“We specialize in helping our clients automate their CI activities,” says Chris Hote, CEO of Digimind. “We cover the full process of CI, not just data collection.” Digimind has tools to categorize information, analyze it and share it.

“To categorize the data, our system uses rules, such as when a drug moves from phase two to phase three investigation,” Hote explains. “We also have Web 2.0 features that allow comments to be attached, or prioritization levels.” Text mining tools highlight trends and correlations among the articles received.

The ability to integrate Digimind easily with other applications allows its clients to use the product in context. “We allow Salesforce  users to see results from within their application,” Hote says. “Also, through integration with SharePoint, Digimind can feed the portal or SharePoint can send PowerPoint presentations and other files back to Digimind to be included in the archive so they are searchable as CI content.”

Accessible by the non-technical

In much the same way as other KM tools such as business intelligence have become more user-friendly, CI solutions have focused on allowing business users to extract and disseminate competitive information from Web sources. “A key aspect of our product development has been to allow non-technical people to monitor and extract information from websites in an automated way,” says Matthew Jacobson, VP of sales and services at Connotate. “The information collected from the Web can be published in a centralized portal, trigger e-mail alerts, or create a daily newsletter containing key points about the competitive landscape.”

Connotate offers a range of industry solutions to automate the extraction, aggregation and presentation of data for a variety of purposes, including one that is specifically designed for competitive intelligence. What they have in common is the use of intelligent software agents to locate and monitor information, and deliver it to decision-makers. “We work with customers to select the most useful sites for data collection,” Jacobson explains, “based on the customers’ experience and a discovery process that expands the reach of the monitoring process.”

Once aggregated, the results can be presented directly or run through additional analytics. “We can help clients to gain quantitative insights, such as whether a certain product showed a drop in price,” he says.

“In addition, we can provide sentiment analysis on consumer comments about products.” According to Jacobson, the hottest areas for CI are pharma, biotech, retailing and packaged goods. They are all competitive industries in which keeping track of what others in the field are doing is vital.

Social media untapped

In an informal study by Hoovers conducted in 2009, only one-third of respondents were using social media in their competitive intelligence initiatives. Companies such as Digimind and Connotate include those sites in their searches, but overall, the input from social media is neglected as a source. The oversight is all the more pointed considering that more than 80 percent of B2C businesses are using social media in their marketing, making social media a potentially rich source of information.

A number of online tools have been developed to focus specifically on social media. BackType allows users to type a URL and see the Twitter comments associated with it. A graph showing the number of comments over a week pops up on the screen. Social Mention provides a search window for keywords, and the option to select blogs, microblogs or both. The results screen shows the number of responses and also sentiment analysis. Alterian, a British-based marketing firm, provides tools for analyzing social media including those of competitors. Its recent purchase of Intrepid, a social media consulting firm, will provide a set of analytics to help its customers monitor what is being said about them and their customers in the social media.

The market is far from consolidated, and many products in it are not designed for enterprise use. But the potential for extracting valuable information is considerable, and more action can be expected in that arena within the next year.

Monitoring Web traffic

In addition to monitoring news items and social media such as blogs, companies can discover useful information by monitoring Internet traffic on their competitors’ sites. Trellian provides CI tools that its subscribers can use to compile and analyze information from competitors’ websites. The analyses identify the links and keyword searches and keyword ad campaigns that are driving traffic to a competitor’s site. The data is collected from a panelist base of 3 million individuals (distributed globally) who install software on their computers that allows tracking their browsing behavior.

Referrer links allow Trellian customers to drill down and find out what the exact URLs are for the source of traffic directed to a competitor’s site. Working backward, link partners and affiliate partners of the competitors can be discovered. That intelligence can then be fed back into the organization’s strategic planning to help management make decisions such as choosing their own partners and affiliates or working with some of their competitors’ partners.

When Trellian CI captures a keyword ad, it takes a snapshot of the search engine that has delivered the user to the site, and then records the keyword’s ranking at the time of the click. The ranking reflects the bid price competitors are paying for a keyword and its position on the search results page. 

“A website’s success is greatly dependent on the quality of targeted traffic it receives,” says Nancy Bianchi, VP of sales at Trellian. “Having access to competitive resources allows companies to learn from their competitors’ mistakes and strategies.” Any national or global online business competing for online traffic benefits from knowing its competitors’ traffic sources. Whether the business is travel, news, shopping or entertainment, success comes down to what works to drive traffic and conversions. Tracking that information is an ongoing challenge, but an important part of a CI strategy.

Quick insights from CI

To prepare for a presentation at a meeting of the Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals, Martha Matteo, Ph.D., a CI coach and process analyst, wanted to monitor the emerging field of bioplastics. Those products function like plastics but are made from starches and other renewable resources, rather than from petroleum. They also have the potential to biodegrade under industrial conditions in a matter of weeks.

Matteo became interested in the field after hearing a talk by Catia Bastioli, Ph.D., the CEO of Novamont, a world leader in the field. Matteo’s presentation was designed to show how CI could provide a company like Novamont with a strategy for expanding its presence in the United States.

“I used Digimind to track the field over a four-month period,” says Matteo. “I am not an information specialist, but was able to use the software with no difficulty. It brought up detailed, targeted information that revealed some of the most innovative ongoing work in the field.”

Among Matteo’s discoveries: Goodyear worked with Genencor to introduce a concept tire made with Biolsoprene, which is derived from plant sources.  Further, she discovered that a Japanese company is making tires from orange peels.

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Unveiling MarkLogic Server 4.2

MarkLogic has launched Version 4.2, which features the MarkLogic Information Studio—claimed to be the industry’s first extract, transform and load (ETL) tool for managing unstructured information— as well as new features for availability and recovery (including full database replication). MarkLogic 4.2 is available for download here.

MarkLogic calls Version 4.2 a new type of database that allows organization to fully exploit unstructured information such as documents, social media posts, e-mails, tweets, images, videos, blogs and research data. With Information Studio, customers can simply drag and drop files or point to a file directory to load into MarkLogic. When combined with other application services including Application Builder, Information Studio is said to deliver significant benefits in terms of accelerating development of new information applications while reducing the cost of operations of MarkLogic.

New features in MarkLogic 4.2 include:

  • XSLT support—expands options that customers can employ to access and transform information in MarkLogic 4.2;
  • replication—allows organizations to selectively replicate documents or parts of documents across databases, enhancing disaster recovery solutions and facilitating information sharing in secure or regulated environments;
  • database rollback—permits immediately setting the database state at a specified point in time;
  • failover—allows servers to automatically take over for a failed hardware server within a cluster;
  • distinctive terms—enables return of the most distinctive terms in a document or sequence of nodes; and
  • proximity boost—tunes search relevance by boosting scores on documents based on proximity of terms.

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Jump right in, the filters are fine

ISYS Search Software has announced the release of ISYS Document Filters 2010, the new version of the company’s solution for text extraction, printing and high-definition viewing.

ISYS says Document Filters offer a legitimate alternative to competing solutions, providing OEMs, ISVs and enterprises with a key component for driving text analytics, e-discovery, e-mail archiving, data loss prevention and other content processing systems.

The ISYS enterprise search suite enables the virtual aggregation of corporate knowledge, providing a single point of access to information that resides across workstations, files shares, intranets, databases and enterprise systems.

Details about the new release of ISYS Document Filters 2010 and the entire ISYS Enterprise Access Suite, are available here.


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The compliance imperative

HiSoftware has released Version 4.0 of Compliance Sheriff, the company’s enterprise compliance automation solution. V. 4.0 includes a new compliance performance management console consisting of scorecards, reports and dashboards; an application program interface (API) for enterprise system integration; and the addition of several new out-of-box compliance checkpoints for privacy (HIPAA), accessibility (Section 508, WCAG) and search engine optimization (SEO).

HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff provides content compliance testing, monitoring and reporting against standards-based policies for privacy, accessibility, social computing, brand integrity, site quality and operational security (OPSEC). It enables organizations to automate compliance with their Web governance standards for public sites, intranets, extranets, blogs, wikis, forums, etc., as part of their best practices and corporate risk management strategy.

Key new features of HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff V. 4.0 include:

  • Compliance Insight, a new compliance performance management console consisting of scorecards, reports and dashboards);
  • an API for integration with clients’ enterprise systems such as enterprise content management (ECM), Web content management (WCM), e-mail, etc.);
  • the addition of several new out-of-box compliance checkpoints for privacy (HIPAA), accessibility (WCAG and Section 508) and search engine optimization (SEO) for easy adoption of new regulatory standards and best practices; and
  • more than 50 new checkpoints including PII/HIPPA checks for family status, e-mail address, telephone number, IP address, zip code, age, address, and more.

These new features are also included in HiSoftware Compliance Sheriff for SharePoint, the company’s integrated solution for the Microsoft SharePoint Server platform.

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Teradata Unified LDM Announced

Teradata Corp. announced its Unified Logical Data Model Framework and Product Portfolio (Teradata Unified LDM), which will assist organizations in managing their warehouse content. It further enables customers to quickly model and integrate internal and external business processes and data. The Teradata Unified LDM offers the benefits of traditional, industry-specific LDMs while offering foundational modules that provide a holistic view of the entire business.

The initial Teradata Unified LDM portfolio addresses the needs of customers in a wide variety of industries, including communications, financial services, and media/entertainment. The product will be made available at the end of November 2010.


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eGain unveils Social Experience

eGain has launched a new version of its Social Experience Suite, a solution engineered to empower contact center agents and community managers to efficiently handle inquiries across all traditional and social channels. The new version includes a social-blended agent desktop, integration with Facebook to complement already available integrations with Twitter and Web search, as well as a single-sourced knowledge publishing capability for proactive social engagement.

The Gain Social Experience Suite consists of three offerings:

eGain Social enables businesses to listen to conversations on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter for customer queries, analyze and route them intelligently and post a response. The solution also includes analytics and the ability to move a potentially explosive social conversation to a more private interaction channel for discreet one-on-one resolution.

The social-blended agent desktop combines queries from Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs with those from traditional customer service channels such as phone, e-mail, SMS chat and co-browse. This enables agents to get a complete view of the customer, context and knowledge for efficient handling of queries. The solution also includes capabilities for full-cycle knowledge harvesting, single-sourced knowledge publishing across social and traditional channels and reputation management.

eGain Community allows companies to include forums as part of their customer interaction hubs. eGain says forums are especially useful for fostering discussions among expert users. Forum posts can be federated into knowledgebase searches, and useful posts can be harvested for inclusion in the multichannel knowledgebase maintained by the business.

eGain Social Adapters make it possible for eGain to monitor social networks through integrations with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo search.

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Attivio Launches AIE for SharePoint Integration

Attivio's has announced its AIE for SharePoint Integration, a platform that combines diverse information sources in a universal index and links entities from SharePoint and other content to relevant data. AIE also includes search features such as relevancy profiles, document classification, and clustering, as well as text analytics, sentiment analysis, and statistical entity extraction.

AIE is designed to make information available immediately, allowing users to query for complete intelligence on demand, and delivers it automatically via workflow and alerts. On-demand access is facilitated by queries and navigation devices such as faceted menus, tag clouds and clickable graphics and links. AIE also includes an Active Directory connector to simplify security processes.


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Semantico Helps CAB Direct Get Onboard with Google

Life-sciences publisher CABI and Semantico completed a project to open a large number of CAB Direct's life sciences abstracts to the Google search engine. This move vastly increases the visibility of the information the platform provides, and the companies have announced that it has more than doubled the usage of the CAB Direct platform.

Google can now fully search and index the abstracts, making them findable directly through the Google search engine. The platform recognizes when a user has accessed the site via Google and will allow them to view a defined amount of content for free before prompting them to log in, if their institution already has a subscription to the site, or suggesting that they register as an individual user for access to the full content.

For more information on this story, check out this recent EContent Blog post by Michelle Manafy.


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Leveraging the Web to attract flooring customers

Shaw Floors, a manufacturer of carpeting, hardwood and other types of flooring, has launched Shaw Web Studio for its nationwide network of flooring retailers. Shaw Web Studio provides the retailers with access to tools, content and collateral, enabling them to build and manage their own professional Web sites. Many of them are independently operated stores with limited website marketing ability.

Shaw Web Studio is developed on iAPPS Content Manager, iAPPS Analytics and iAPPS Commerce from Bridgeline Digital. The solution provides administrative functionality and a feature set that includes search engine optimization capabilities with integrated web analytics reporting, offering insight into customer and site visitor activity, according to Bridgeline Digital. The product suite is a software-as-a-service solution that unifies content management, e-commerce, e-marketing and analytics, Bridgeline adds.

Misty Hodge, Web services manager at Shaw Flooring, says, "There are a lot of difficulties retailers have with being on the Web. They don’t have the time, the money or the experience that it takes to produce a truly valuable consumer Web experience. Shaw Web Studio was designed to give them those tools and be extremely easy to use."

For a monthly subscription cost, retailers can develop their own site and populate it with ready-to-use content that includes informational videos, product catalog items, promotional materials and editorial--all developed and controlled centrally on iAPPS by Shaw. The solution also enables retailers to manage their sites to reflect their understanding of local customers and markets.

"Because flooring retailers are experts in their areas, it is important for them to be able to localize the information on their websites," says Hodge.

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