This blog is dedicated to the in-depth review, analysis and discussion of technologies related to the search and discovery of information. This blog represents my views only and does not reflect those of my employer, IBM.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

IBM Information On Demand 2006 Conference Review

Three weeks ago I spoke at IBM's first annual Information On Demand (IOD) conference held in Anaheim California and I'm just now getting a chance to comment on the trip. By most standards it was a very large conference with over 5000 attendees. IBM combined six previous conferences into this one mega-conference and upped the fun factor with top notch entertainment to include Gladys Knight (without the pips), Wayne Brady (from "Who's Line is It Anyway"), and a key note address by Michael Eisner (former Disney CEO).

The conference is sponsored by IBM's Information Management Division the makers of DB2 and the division to which my search product is a part. I think the most exciting announcement at IOD was the introduction of a new product, the IBM Information Server, which integrates many of IBM's data products into a consistent first-of-a-kind software platform. Like the Web Server, and then Application Server, the Information Server goes to the next level enabling clients to deliver trusted, consistent and reusable information to applications and business processes.

For me the conference was a busy one. For the first three days (mon.-wed.) you would most likely have found me on the exhibit floor demonstrating how IBM's enterprise search product OmniFind could be used for business intelligence. I showed how OmniFind could tease out of full text documents facts and other related information that could then be fed into conventional BI tools (e.g., Cognos) for analysis.

On Thursday I gave a talk on OmniFind search security in Portal and Domino environments, followed by a four hour lab which gave up to forty students the opportunity to work with the OmniFind product directly. At first my colleague and I were not sure we would be able to do the lab. We accidentally chose an IP address for our VMWare image that matched the IP address of the wireless LAN for the conference (what are the chances of doing that). Once we figured out what the problem was we changed the IP address and were back on track (whew!).

In my spare time I was able to meander around the conference and learn what's new. What caught my interest the most were two ad-tech exhibits that demonstrated new search technologies from IBM research. One exhibit demonstrated a search for audio clips based on the content of the audio itself not just the closed caption text associated with the clip. The technology translated speech into text (not a trivial task) and then feed the text into a search engine for conventional search.

Another exhibit demonstrated multi-faceted search with computed expressions. Most multi-faceted search systems only show you counts representing the number of documents contained within each facet. The system from IBM not only showed you the counts but your choice of computed expression (e.g., average, sum, etc...) for the facet. For example, I could have a facet for light weight laptop computers and associate an average cost expression with the facet so that I not only would see how many laptops are in that category but also the average price. It starts to sound a lot like a relational database application but we need to remind ourselves that this information is being extracted and computed from textual information not structured information contained in a relational database.

Overall, I felt that the conference was excellent and something information architects and enthusiasts should not miss next October in Las Vegas.


Anonymous Joel Cramer said...

Great work! I was at the IOD conference and really appreciate your efforts!

It's great to see IBM products demonstrated and 'hands-on' type activities.

All the best - Joel Cramer

9:31 AM


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