This may seem odd but it was not until I started to write a short chapter on text analytics in the 2nd Edition of Enterprise Search that I realised how little I knew about the topic. Though to be honest that is a core justification for me writing books – I find out what I don’t know. In the case of text analytics Tom Reamy (KAPS) knows all there is to know and has presented it with great clarity in his new book Deep Text, recently published by Information Today Inc. When you are an academic writing books is part of the job description and often academics take sabbaticals to do the writing. In the case of independent consultants who need to make a living writing a book gets in the way of the day job to a very significant extent. Tom has been an advocate of text analytics for years, and on numerous occasions at conferences in the USA he has tried to get me to see the light. With this book he has succeeded quite brilliantly.
The value of this book is not in the descriptions of the technology but in the detailed presentation of how the technology can be used to gain business advantage. The 420 page book has 15 chapters in five sections. The sections are
- Text analytics basics
- Getting started in text analytics
- Text analytics development
- Text analytics applications
- Enterprise text analytics as a platform
The writing style is very conversational, which I like because you feel Tom is alongside you trying to educate and enthuse you at the same time. The technology descriptions are quite good enough to understand how the analytics process works. That is sufficient for a book of this type where the focus is on educating potential business users about the value of text analytics and not acting as a reference work for computer science students. Along the way Tom tells stories about some of his clients (with due anonymity) and these help considerably in providing a context for his advice. I especially liked the two chapters on how to establish an enterprise analytics department, which mirrors my own views on enterprise search departments. At the end of each chapter there are some useful references to published case studies and books. The list of text analytics vendors is a little on the short side. I’m working on a major study of the text analytics market and have already found around 150 vendors. But a list that length also illustrates the scale of the text analytics business, with companies offering software and services often doubling their revenues each year. My only disappointment is the index, which is not up to the standard of the book.
Don’t think for one moment that because you are in ‘search’ you do not need to bother with ‘text analytics. Wrong. The overlap is significant and getting closer each year, as I commented recently in a CMSWIre column. Every search manager should have a copy of this book, because in many companies they may be first person who get asked about how to take advantage of text analytics. This book will give you all the answers and is the definitive book on the business possibilities of the technology. If you want to learn more about Tom and his work he was interviewed by Stephen Arnold a couple of years ago.