Getting smarter with semantic search
How well is data and information management handled at your company? Are you using Big Data? Have you heard of semantic search? These were some of the questions we asked people at the Knowledge For Growth 2015 convention (May 2015). As a semantic search company, we learned that there’s still some education to be done around it. But, looking at it positively, semantic search is considered to be a highly relevant asset for many people within the life sciences industry. Here are the results of our survey.
The information and data age
The Knowledge For Growth 2015 convention in Ghent welcomed 1100 attendees, and we were able to get feedback from 127 people in total (+/- 10% of attendees). When asked ‘how well is your company managing healthcare and life sciences information today?’, 47% of respondents stated that information is managed `well’ to `very well’. 42% indicated that it is `not handled well’ to `quite well’. Quite shocking really, as the life sciences industry is highly dependent on properly unlocking information to fuel innovation. A point made also by Peter Piot in his morning keynote speech, when he talked about data and information as a driver for life sciences.
The attendees at the convention are very active and fervent searchers for information. 46% of the respondents spend more than half an hour each day searching for information.
With so much search activity going on, improving the accuracy and speed of search results can have a dramatic impact on overall productivity. The respondents acknowledged this: 43% of them believed that improved search functionalities could improve productivity by 20 to 50 per cent. Fourteen per cent considered the increase in productivity to be even more than 50%.
Because data and information disclosure is so important, we asked people how easily accessible this data is. While 35% of respondents indicated that most people within their company have data access and that they can manage the data themselves, the other 65% indicated that they are limited in some form or other to access the data.
In order to fuel innovation, though, step one is to have unrestricted, ready access to the data. This is often referred to as the democratization of data. A trend that is on the rise in recent years, also with the emphasis on more open innovation and more open collaborations across company borders.
The Big Data frenzy
The Big Data hype is far from over but, in practice, there’s still very little that’s truly Big Data driven. Only 15% of respondents stated that the majority of their data activities are Big Data driven or that there is a fully integrated Big Data strategy. But a shocking 45% of respondents stated that there is no Big Data activity whatsoever, while another 12% said that they’re working on it.
One way of mining huge amounts of heterogeneous data is through ‘semantic search’. This terminology, however, doesn’t yet ring a bell for 60% of the people.
When briefly explained what semantic search is, 37% thinks that it would be of great benefit to their business. A percentage that increases to 45% for the people already familiar with semantics.
A semantic future
Every industry that is driven by data, is challenged to create more value out of that data. And increasingly, that is literally ‘every’ industry. But limited data access, a lack of data democratization, a lack of Big Data initiatives and poorly designed search capabilities are causing companies to lose money.
Technologies such as semantic search can quickly close the gap between ‘searching blind’ and ‘finding relevant results immediately’.
Semantic search can separate different meanings, it categorizes them and presents the results in a filtered and clustered manner, so that the most relevant information can be pinpointed quicker and easier. Because of its extreme scalability, it can be applied to a virtually unlimited number of data sources. Semantic search ‘glues’ the relevant data together as Linked Data in order to generate more meaningful insights.
About the survey: the data used in this blog was collected via a survey during the Knowledge For Growth 2015 convention (May 2015) at the International Conference Center in Ghent, Belgium. There were approximately 1,100 attendees from hundreds of different life sciences organizations. Two hostesses roamed the convention’s floor with iPads (and printed survey forms) to capture the feedback. Attendees were approached randomly. A total of 127 people completed the survey and were offered a free smoothie at the ONTOFORCE stand in return.