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Oracle - help analyse unstructured data

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oracle has acquired a company called Endeca which makes software tools which can spot patterns in unstructured data, such as e-mails, spreadsheets and documents.


The aim is to make it as easy to work with unstructured data as with structured data, such as databases.

The technology proved a surprise hit, when it was presented at a meeting of Oracle's oil and gas 'Industry Strategy Council', formed of oil company CIOs, held in Houston in June, said Charles Karren, Director, Energy Industry Strategy at Oracle.

The meeting was not intended as a sales event, Mr Karren said, but a number of participants asked how they could get the software running in their companies.

The system develops relationships between data which exists in different places, so it needs a mixture of search and data processing, looking at the data in different ways.

Endeca has an 'engine', or data processing system called 'MDEX', which can analyse and correlate (spot patterns in) unstructured data.

MDEX can both search and analyse documents. It can correlate, navigate and analyze relationships between diverse data types.

It has a 'technology platform' called 'Latitude' which companies can use to put together analytic applications, bringing data from a range of unstructured and structured information sources.

The software has a tool called "content spotlighting," which enables managers to provide people with information about projects they are working on, which they might not have known existed.

Each user has their own 'home page', where they can be fed information which might be relevant to them, according to rules and a definition of their role which has been set up for them.

The software has a "Guided Navigation" tool, which can help the user choose which search terms they should be using, based on information which is already in the repository. This makes it easier for the user to find the most relevant content.

There is a "Dynamic Summarization" tool which can organise results and adjust knowledge suggestions as more information is added to the system.

Value in oil and gas

Mr Karren believes that the software could provide value in all areas of the oil and gas industry, including drilling, production and reservoir management, supply chain management and enterprise resource planning, anywhere where there are a lot of word documents.

Oracle believes that by combining Endeca with its own services, it will be possible to analyse structured and unstructured information together.
So oil and gas companies can find out as much as they can from all of their data.

To illustrate how it might be used, consider if your company faces an allegation that one of its wells are leaking, and you immediately have to find out as much as possible about that well, to try to work out if the allegation might be true.

You need to search through all of your company's data about that well, including e-mails, spreadsheets, and data, and have a method of crunching all of the information to try to find an answer.

Endeca's tools could help you do that, by sifting through large amounts of unstructured data to try to generate a picture of what might be going on.

One exploration and production company uses it to co-ordinate information sharing between geologists in the company office and the asset team working at the oilfield.

For example, you could have a geologist working on seismic data, who requests a certain data processing task is done at his company's IT processing centre.

There might be other geologists in the company working on similar, or the same reservoir - and the Endeca software can work out if their projects have any common characteristics, and if so put them in touch with each other.

The software can deliver the right information to the right person, even if the person didn't know that the data existed.

Other customers

Endeca has over 600 customers, including in retail, distribution, publishing, government and manufacturing.

It has been used on retail websites, when managers want to use all of the information they have available about the user to present them with a customised website.

The software was used by a major car manufacturer who had a mechanical problem and wanted to analyse thousands of users' experiences with it.

A usual way to do it would be to ask people to fill in a form and submit data which could then be analysed - but it might be hard to persuade people to fill in the form.

But instead, it used Endeca tools to analysing thousands of discussions about the problem by users across the internet.



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