IBM's New Analytics Software Interprets Slang and Even Emoticons for Better Service
FastCompany, by Dan Nosowitz, May 12, 2010
Here's an example of a sentence that would be tough for most software to interpret: "The iPad's great...if you don't care about Wi-Fi. :-p" The sentence isn't actually pro-iPad; it uses sarcasm, implicit criticism, and an emoticon to convey distaste. But if, say, Apple tried to use most kinds of analytic software to glean reaction to the iPad, that would show up as positive. It says "iPad" and "great"!
IBM's new predictive analytics software scours the Web for feedback on the product or service of your choice, and is able to interpret slang and emoticons from blogs, comment boards, and other far-flung corners of the Internet to give businesses a more accurate view of what their customers are saying.
Recognizing that each industry has unique priorities and its own vernacular, the new software analyzes trends and captures insights from industry-specific terminology. Within these domains, the software includes new semantic networks with 180 vertical taxonomies (from Life Sciences to Banking and Insurance, and Consumer Electronics), and more than 400,000 terms, including 100,000 synonyms and thousands of brands. This allows customers to draw better links and understanding between sentiment and products without having to spend time building their own definitions.
For instance, in the banking industry, the semantic network knows that a "floating rate" is a "Mortgage Loan," and "Variable Rate Mortgage" and "Adjustable Rate Mortgage" are synonyms. It can also detect that "estate planning," "older people," and "retirement planning" are related to "reverse mortgage."