Sramana Mitra: Basically, you’re addressing regulatory issues for pharmaceutical companies. Then you’re helping some of these media companies reconcile and clarify their databases and perhaps even enhance their databases, which are then accessed by their clients. That’s the other use case that you talked about, right?
Atanas Kiryakov: Yes. We also help pharmaceutical companies with drug development. The other application is in regulatory enquiries. It’s a cross between applications related to compliance and regulation that we also have with other clients. To give you another example, we have a project called Open Policy that recently won the innovation award of Washington Post in April 2014. This project is again around semantic search that helps various people across the US government to deal with big volumes of regulations. One of the clients there is the Defense Department, particularly some agencies within the Navy.
Imagine there is an officer that takes care of shipping out of a military base in South Korea to a military base in Germany. These guys have to find out what are all the relevant regulations that should be taken into account when planning and implementing this transfer. Before our system, they often had to search for an entire day to get the right answers. What we did with them is to start with big taxonomies and a big knowledge base of all the concepts that are relevant to their domain. Then we automate analysis of all the policies. It’s an enterprise search solution that helps military staff better find regulations and relevant pieces of regulation.
Sramana Mitra: I’m going to ask you to switch gears a bit and ask you to look at your industry. You’ve been in this industry for a while now. How is this industry evolving? What’s changing?
Atanas Kiryakov: What has changed is that many people switch gears from web applications trying to build the next generation web into more enterprise IT applications – from the perspective of dealing with hundreds of thousands of databases interconnected across the web, to solving concrete problems of pharmaceutical companies, government, or media. Along with the maturing of the standard of technology, applications are the biggest driver.
Probably the biggest and the most important trend of applications in five years are in the content-related industries. That’s media and publishers. These people spend effort, to a great extent, finding the agenda of these technology communities. To give you an example about application in media, the first big showcase in this domain is the website that UK broadcaster BBC made for the world championship in soccer back in 2010. What they essentially did with our system was develop a system that deals with rich metadata about each piece of content that is related to this event.
They start off with the same task of integrating all sorts of relevant databases and putting them together, and layering on top of a conceptual model that gives the most adequate view to this domain. Then, they make a process such that whenever there’s new content, it gets analyzed by us so that we can identify the 20 or 50 concepts that are most relevant and characteristic about these articles. This very rich metadata gets stored in a semantic database.