The Year Ahead for Text and Sentiment Analysis

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analysis_smallADOTAS – As we wrap up 2010, it’s safe to say that it was a good year for most of the major text analytics vendors, with approximately 50% growth overall. As we head into 2011, that momentum will continue, with the market expected to see strong growth—upwards of 40%. Vendors can expect to see a major acceleration of interest from primary markets such as financial services, legal/eDiscovery, and pharmaceuticals along with social media monitoring and “voice of the customer” (VOC).

Financial Services

One trend that has become increasingly prominent in the financial services market is sentiment-based equity trading. Companies and small hedge funds are now starting to trade stocks based on sentiment scores. These scores originate from news streams that are being scored by a sentiment engine. What’s really interesting is that these companies are actually seeing a significant return on these sentiments in their trades – around a 0.5% to 0.6% increase.

Legal/eDiscovery

For law firms drowning in endless textual documents, it can be difficult to ascertain major themes – especially when you’re not sure what topics to be searching for. Text analytics examines the words, phrases and hot topics that repeatedly appear and analyzes them. Naturally this is a great tool for firms or corporations focused on legal/eDiscovery with large amounts of content that needs to be analyzed.

Pharmaceuticals

From drug discovery to competitive analysis, from adverse event reporting to doctor feedback, every pharmaceutical company has a ton of text. 2011 will see the automation of many currently manual operations and the convergence of systems that are currently separate. In particular, we’ll see better research-oriented systems to help with rapidly picking out the important trends and tidbits from the firehose of published peer-reviewed research.

Social Media Monitoring

Many companies have already started to adopt social analytics. It is an important trend to address because it will be a crucial and mandatory element in 2011. Well over half the content available in an organization is textual.

If companies don’t start watching and listening to what’s happening, they will be in for a big surprise. Text analytics and sentiment analysis are essential tools for companies to understand what is being written on social networks, the blogosphere or any of the social media platforms.

As companies try to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s being said about their company and brand, a majority have turned to social media monitoring and “voice of the customer” monitoring. Previously social media monitoring was a smaller, niche industry with just a handful of vendors present. We’re beginning to see the two terms blend together.

In my opinion, the vendors that have been in the VOC monitoring space will most likely have an advantage over the social media monitoring vendors; the VOC vendors have been around longer and have better capabilities for dealing with this particular content. The VOC vendors are adopting these technologies at a fast rate to keep on top of both the social content and historical content (call logs, etc.).

Overall 2011 Market Trends

For the most part, 2010 was the year where sentiment analysis gained credibility. For 2011, expect to see the combination of tone and message, where it’s not just, “is this good or bad?” but in fact, “what is it that people are talking about?” It’s about combining the tone of what’s happening with what is actually happening. By pulling them together into an aggregated view, it will bring a lot more understanding than a simple sentiment measure across topics companies might be looking for.

In 2011, major text analytics vendors will continue to separate and dominate the newer players. Smaller players are vanishing and only open source is gaining traction. For those vendors, the complexity and breadth of their features are important, as the new markets will demand significant new features for these technologies.

One of the most important factors behind 2010’s success is social media’s worldwide adoption. It has been accepted by corporate America and companies all over the world as a channel they simply must monitor. If you want to know what’s happening to your company, brand or executives, the only way to do it is to use these types of technologies. This kind of adoption has pushed text analytics and other similar technologies such as this to the forefront. Without them, you don’t stand a chance.

Author: Jeff Catlin is the CEO of Lexalytics (www.lexalytics.com), a software and services company specializing in text and sentiment analysis.

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