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1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2010: Temetic Research

Posted on Monday, Jul 26th 2010

By guest author Praveen Kumar

Temetic Research builds advanced tools and services that assist corporations in tracking and managing their global Internet presence and customer loyalty with the help of the science of digital sociology. The company uses technology that applies computational linguistics, progressive data mining, and the latest socio-psychological precepts to improve its clients’ marketing and sales practices.

The Temetic intelligence engine is designed to bridge the gaps between marketing intelligence and marketing strategies within the new and rather complex structure that can be understood as the global Web social ecosystem.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based company, launched in January, has half a dozen communications firms that deal in brand awareness and management as clients. Roger Attick, the company’s CEO, spent twenty-three years as an executive and corporate officer in the telecommunications sector, building and running business units at companies including MCI and Qwest Communications. He spent another eight years focused on venture capital, merger and acquisition, and private equity startup initiatives. Rich Neal is the founder of the company and a former technology and e-commerce consultant.

A bit of explanation about what the company does and how its products are useful is in order. The opportunities presented by the growing social element of computer-mediated interaction (via the social Web) as it applied to corporate interests sparked the genesis of Temetic Research. Neal says that the understanding of the social aspects within the online world remains little changed from the early 1990s. Most businesses think of social interaction on the Web in terms of popularity measurements such as hits, rank, reach, and so forth. However, this understanding offers very little when trying to understand interests, opinions, and attitudes expressed in the message itself. Neal believes that the online intelligence market is full of services offering benign data placed on slick visualizations that track a single aspect of popularity such as “buzz” or “chatter,” as well as related components such as hits, rank, engagement, reach, trackbacks, inbound links, vote count, and comment count. In Neal’s view, this status quo has yet to grasp the multiple dimensions of complex socializing and the true shape of an online conversation. By its very nature, the communication conveyed online is robust and dynamic. As such, it should be tracked using techniques and from multiple disciplines such as anthropology, ethnography, psychology, and sociology.

This belief led Temetic Research to focus on developing a model for comprehending multiple dimensions of online communication that reflects a method of understanding communication based on mechanisms that humans use in face-to-face contact in order to offer a breadth and depth of actionable market intelligence. Leveraging the principles developed in work on the “semantic Web,” Temetic uses a proprietary algorithm that operates with strong intra- and interdependency among its variables to create a descriptive framework – the object, subject, and predicate (verb) of the online consumer conversation. Armed with this intelligence, businesses can comprehend context; that is, they can identify not just the “what” and “how many” but also the “who,” the “why,” and the “how.” The linguistic data is used in forecasting message interpretation by demographic segment, mapping conversations during marketing campaigns (in-flight analysis), charting clients’ and competitors’ voice of customer (VOC), and identifying key participant and commentary variables during a brand crisis or event.

With the help of digital sociology, the company can deduce precisely how perceptions are created and shared across an ever-growing and ever-changing Web. The founders believe that through this symphony of perception, users of Temetic are able to better understand the richness of information conveyed through online conversations, well beyond the limited parameters offered through popularity. This knowledge has broad applications. The most obvious is connecting with the consumer mindset, where business strategy, public relations, marketing, advertising, and product/brand development and management come into play. Additional uses are in political campaigns, government administration, health care, and national defense, as well as assisting with situational awareness in large-scale crises, such as the antigovernment protests in Tehran or the January earthquake in Haiti.

The competitive spectrum in this segment has continued to focus on the blogosphere as well as ambiguous attributes of “social listening,” such as identifying abstract sentiment. Temetic Research says that although there are a number of large companies using current “social listening” services, such services have very few return customers. Based upon Temetic’s survey of past customers who have used standard social media firms, the common response was that they enjoyed the data visualizations presented within dashboards but in general could not easily connect the data they were forming. Competitors include Radian6, Infegy/Social Radar, Collective Intellect, and Crimson Hexagon. Radian6 has strong brand recognition but does not employ computational linguistics. The same goes for Infegy/Social Radar, though they do use 3-D visualization. Collective Intellect is the closest competitor using computational linguistics, but it is still focused primarily on the one-dimensional measurement of “buzz.” Crimson Hexagon is advanced, yet highly susceptible to variances caused by the use of a single statistical routine called crimson hexagon. Temetic Research uses computational linguistics approaches informed by the disciplines of math, logic, cognitive science, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience, ethnography, psychology, and sociology, rather than popularity.

Temetic Research’s first commercial release was created as a customer analytics and decision support engine that uses proprietary technologies and methodologies to harvest and analyze digital opinion data from Internet in real time in many languages. The solution can harvest contextual opinion from any online, digital public domain, from blogs to chats to websites and repositories and other sources, including social networking sites and social media sources. More sophisticated than a search engine, the solution uses a number of advanced algorithms, natural machine language logic, and computational linguistics processes to monitor, observe, capture, harvest, measure, and present documented opinions, perceptions, logs, and other media to help businesses to make better decisions in a more agile manner, improve strategy effectiveness and execution, and add insight to customer satisfaction practices and policies by having access to the real-time voice of the customer. Attick believes these proprietary technologies and methodologies, combined with the qualifications of the management team and a business plan rich in client services, mean that Temetic Research is in a strong position to execute and succeed in the marketplace. The company’s view is that this industry is still maturing but that it will quickly become mainstream.

The industries and markets that Temetic Research is targeting are growing and have great size and reach. Industry observers estimate that market research and IT research will together grow around 10% to reach around $45 billion in 2010. Market research includes over 9,000 companies with 11%–12% annual growth to reach $40 billion in 2010, while IT research will grow 7.5%–9% to reach $4.5 billion by 2010. The U.S. public relations industry includes almost 7,000 companies with combined annual revenues of over $6 billion. Temetic Research is aiming for adoption by 1.9%–4.9% of each category. It has focused primarily on four industries: public relations and public affairs (agencies and in-house), market research (agencies and in-house), consumer packaged goods (CPG), and communications media and entertainment (CME), specifically broadcasters and news publishers. Another area of interest for Temetic is in the public sector, including public opinion on political campaigns and initiatives and in the areas of research. Its analysis of agencies such as NASA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institutes for Health has led the company to a multitude of calls for grants and research in areas such as data analyzing and processing algorithms for space and earth science missions; software systems that link public heath with health information exchange initiatives and provide real-time views on the health of communities; and the development and use of tools that assist in the gathering and reporting of human factor incidents for long duration space missions.

Apart from these industries, Temetic Research continues to evaluate the legal industry as a potential target market because there have been a number of inquiries from law firms on the use of the technology for e-discovery solutions. It also aims to leverage its computational linguistics to drive quality monitoring within international call centers.

In addition to its vertical industry focus, Temetic Research is developing a horizontal application of its technology for the exploding business intelligence (BI) and customer resource management (CRM) markets. The niche is best described as a mash-up of BI and CRM, heavily influenced by social networking, generation Xers, and digital media. This mash-up creates an opportunity to introduce and explore customer intelligence (CI). Because this CI application is more horizontal, there may be more enterprise applications beyond the four industries mentioned above.

Temetic Research has gained traction primarily through a model of on-site advisories and knowledge transference. The company has continued to shape its service line from these interactions. Winning several business plan and technology concept awards (such as the Kauffman Institute’s Reignier Award and a State of Missouri Innovation Grant) assisted in validating the business prior to signing the first client. To date, Temetic Research has undertaken research campaigns for six clients ranging in topics from real estate to seafood, providing insight into brand awareness, product development, and marketing strategies. It uses Google AdWords and through this campaign has been contacted by corporations from Colorado to Switzerland to Nairobi expressing interest in its services. There are two national pilots underway. The first is with the world’s second-largest advertising company based upon research being undertaken for that company’s client, one of the world’s largest telecommunication corporations. The second is to define segmentation and awareness factors related to agribusiness. Additionally, Temeric was recently contacted by Reuters to undertake research on tourist perceptions of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Florida’s Gulf Coast.

At present, revenues are around $100,000 a month and the company is entirely bootstrapped. Temetic is not yet cash flow positive, and all earnings are reinvested into the business. The company is making forecasts based upon its current conversion success rates versus its present pipeline and new AdWords Campaign. If Temetic Research can continue to drive organic growth, this will be its chosen path. Although dilution is a primary concern, raising money would be appealing at this juncture. Management is currently evaluating options for a private equity round.

Temetic Research offers its technology software solutions as a Web-based service via licensed annual subscription, with two levels of sophistication and complexity and two different prices. In addition, for customization it charges $5,000 a year. Standard 3-D utility is $1,750 a month. The Point Prevalence Report, also called the Baseline Report (based on standard 3-D) is $10,000. Other services are consulting and staff augmentation to provide digital harvesting, analysis, and visualizations; consulting and advisory services for customer analytics and decision support systems; and a knowledge transfer and internal engagement license that builds on the client’s internal competencies and establishes in-house online perception harvesting, monitoring, and analysis.

An exit strategy is something Temetic has discussed only in passing. Right now, the aim is to have fun while building a successful business. From their subjective cumulative opinion, when this business begins to be less than fun, the company will begin seriously considering  an exit strategy.

Temetic Research presented at Sramana’s 1M/1M roundtable on May 27, 2010. The recording of the session is here [2:00–14:00]. You can also find Sramana’s recap here. Sramana advised Dawson Fercho, who leads business development, to lead with the various unique metrics that his technology is able to track because of the algorithmic sophistication used by the company to differentiate it from other competitors. Also, Fercho needs to ask customers if they are interested in measuring X, Y, or Z to validate that these metrics are indeed of interest to them.  Sramana suggested that Farcho ramp up the base analysis service to help fund the company’s development; continue to bootstrap; explore partnering with SaaS PR businesses that may find this technology intriguing, such as Vocus PR; and read Sramana’s case study on Vocus PR.

This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2010

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