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Northern Light Launches MI Analyst
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Posted On May 7, 2007


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Sifting through the haystack of thousands of market research reports has just gotten easier—with the help of a search engine that reads them and helps corporate users understand the meaning. Northern Light (www.northernlight.com), the provider of search technologies and business research content, has just introduced MI Analyst, a new application designed to speed and improve the analysis of market research content. It is offered as an add-on option to the company’s SinglePoint enterprise market research portals. The company said MI Analyst represents the next frontier in search by offering the first automated "meaning-extraction" application designed specifically for market intelligence content.

"At Northern Light, we are defining the future for the automated analysis and discovery of business meaning from large stores of market intelligence content," said C. David Seuss, Northern Light’s CEO. "Search engines must evolve to have in-depth understanding of the searched material, what we call meaning extraction."

A SinglePoint Market Research Portal integrates diverse content, makes it searchable from a single interface with a single login, and provides seamless download of relevant documents to users from the servers wherever they are hosted—at Northern Light, on an internal network, on the public Web, or at a secure content provider Web site. According to Seuss, a typical SinglePoint portal has 20 external market research sources, an internal content repository, a business newsfeed, and is used by 30,000 employees.

Let the Search Engine Do the Work

Every year, for enterprise clients, Northern Light provides aggregation and search for some 500,000 market research reports from 60 of the leading analyst firms. Users can’t possibly read and absorb the contents of the relevant reports, but the Northern Light search engine can. MI Analyst is designed to extract meaning from search results, mining the market research content for relevant competitive intelligence and market trends. MI Analyst uses advanced text analytics technologies to provide entity extraction for key business facets, relationship identification between entities, sentiment scoring, meaning extraction, and trend analysis.

Seuss explained the development of the product: "We licensed the sentiment scoring dictionary and sentiment scoring algorithms from Lexalytics, and we use their list of companies for the company facet even though we have enhanced it considerably. The rest was developed by Northern Light (venture-funded company facet, technology facet, markets facet, government agency facet, market research source facet), and most especially the meaning-extraction solution."

Seuss said the meaning-extraction techniques developed for MI Analyst are unique. MI Analyst can read all the reports and articles a company creates or licenses from third-party sources. The application then can tell what is in the documents, suggest what business issues they address, and direct the researcher to the documents that are most interesting based on their meaning rather than on their statistically derived search relevance. MI Analyst highlights threats and opportunities regarding products, market share, pricing, new technologies, marketing partnerships, and corporate strategy. Check the screen examples to see how this works.

Lexalytics, Inc. (LXA; www.lexalytics.com) is a software company specializing in unstructured information. It is best known for its ability to measure sentiment or tone at the document, summary, and entity levels. Using its technology, MI Analyst can discern the tone of content, for example, assessing which market research reports and research analysts reflect a positive sentiment and which ones demonstrate a negative sentiment about a company and its competitors. Sentiment scoring has been used in various news applications and for analyzing blog content, but Seuss said this is the first time the technology has been used in an application for market research content.

But he stressed that it was the entire package of text analytic technologies and meaning extraction applied to the content that set the MI Analyst product apart. He said: "These are the most valuable databases in the world; they directly impact corporate strategy, product planning, [and] technology evolution, and it is not an exaggeration to say that the largest companies in the world are using SinglePoint Market Research Portals to help invent the future. MI Analyst running on these databases is a fundamental change in the possibilities."

The Details and Reactions

Offered in a secure, hosted, user self-service portal environment, SinglePoint is customized to the precise market research and competitive intelligence purposes of each of Northern Light’s enterprise clients. Unlimited enterprisewide access to MI Analyst starts at $48,000 annually. There is also a one-time setup fee starting at $36,000 for customization of the solution to a client’s requirements.

SinglePoint with MI Analyst isn’t a cheap product. Ned May, analyst at Outsell, Inc., said that enterprise users on a limited budget for market intelligence functions might balk at the additional price for what appears to be an enhancement to SinglePoint. But, in fact, MI Analyst offers much more functionality and allows a professional researcher to get to information faster. "I haven’t seen anything as good in the marketplace. It’s a great product," he said. He also praised the tracking and monitoring capabilities. He expects that adding it to a SinglePoint deployment will broaden the portal’s use within the enterprise.

"MI Analyst is more than a powerful search tool, it’s like another member of our team," said Paul Robertson, director of global market research at Unisys Corp. "The system’s ability to identify key themes in market research reports and draw connections between companies, technologies, and market trends saves our market intelligence team many hours of analysis time and helps us identify developing business strategy issues much earlier than we might have otherwise."

Robertson said the new application is already getting extensive use by power users within Unisys. He promotes the new capabilities on the internal site, has sent email to key users, and plans ongoing efforts to get the word out. He said the company had previously attempted to get sentiment scoring through a third-party vendor but had been very disappointed in the results. The SinglePoint portal at Unisys provides access to a rolling 18 months of research reports from 16 vendors (Gartner, Forrester, IDC, etc.), to proprietary research and white papers, and to news services (through Northern Light’s vendor contracts). Using MI Analyst, the company now has a much better handle on how Unisys is being portrayed.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.

Email Paula J. Hane

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