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Northern Light Boosts Search Insight With Launch of MI Analyst 3.0
Posted On March 26, 2009
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"Search results have looked essentially the same for 15 years," says C. David Seuss, Northern Light's CEO. But get ready for a big change. Northern Light Group (NL; has launched MI Analyst 3.0, a major update of its meaning-extraction application for market research and business news content, which changes the level and depth of info contained in search results. Specifically, Northern Light has added "meaning-loaded concepts" to the document summaries in the search results. This enables users to view the major concepts covered in each document at a glance and to scan much richer and robustly indexed summaries, prior to downloading or opening any given document. The company says the net benefit for researchers is faster "time-to-insight."

MI Analyst applies text analytics optimized for market intelligence applications to search results. MI Analyst goes beyond the extraction of just nouns-people, places, things, etc. It uses advanced text analytics technologies to provide entity extraction for key business facets, relationship identification between entities, sentiment scoring, meaning extraction, and trend analysis.

And now with MI Analyst 3.0, users see immediately the concepts critical to assessing a document in the list of search results (see the screen shot). This might include the technologies mentioned in the article, companies mentioned, business issues mentioned (regulatory action, strategic partnerships, emerging market, etc.), venture-funded companies mentioned, and even bookmark info ("This document has been saved by 1 person with tags like Case studies, Cisco, voip"). And users can click to see an expanded document detail page with a full listing of extracted entities-all loaded with meaning.

The left side of the screen also includes a summarized facet display labeled "Analyze your search." (In version 3.0, more of these facets have been exposed for the user, and clients can customize the selections.) Clicking on an entity, such as Cisco in the list of companies, will give a picture of what the company is doing. For example, a search for VOIP, which mentions Cisco and lists the business issues discussed, could indicate the company's strategy. Seuss says, "I'll bet you've never seen a search result like this: ‘Cisco is using a corporate strategy of strategic partnerships.'"

(If you're interested in more details on this example and a comparison to a search in a traditional search engine, check out Seuss' blog post at He also has other interesting posts such as "How does meaning extraction actually work?").

Seuss says, "MI Analyst 3.0 adds new depth and context to search results. It accelerates the process of discovering meaning from the searched material by reading, extracting, evaluating, and clearly presenting critical meaning-loaded concepts from within the documents."

The meaning-extraction capabilities in MI Analyst have impressed potential and existing customers. A drug researcher at a global pharmaceutical company says, "The first time I saw a demonstration of MI Analyst, the system identified a correlation between two diseases in a patents database that I had not previously considered-which was a real ‘aha moment' for me. That kind of automated analysis of the scientific literature stands to save me and my team a lot of time, by pointing us directly to the documents most relevant to our research-and potentially accelerate the pace of drug discovery and development."

A market research director at a global IT services company says, "MI Analyst saves our market intelligence team many hours of analysis time by identifying key themes in market research reports and drawing connections between companies, technologies, and market trends. The benefit for us is we can do more work-and more valuable work-for our internal clients, so they in turn can do their jobs better."

Susan Aldrich, an analyst with the Patricia Seybold Group, likes the new functionality in MI Analyst 3.0. "The new support for scenarios, with automated analysis of business strategies, really succeeds in reducing the time to insight-which is NL's marketing message for this release." As for Northern Light's direction, she says, "NL is right on the target: Customers need the type of analysis that NL is providing in order to be effective. Actually, anyone who searches for information needs this type of analysis, in various different contexts, but for now, they'll only get it using NL's MI Analyst."

Brad Bortner, an analyst with Forrester Research, says he's been impressed with Northern Light for several years. He says the seamless integration of syndicated research and internal research the company offers to large enterprises is compelling: "As my kids would say, it's way cool." He even thinks the company should consider packaging the technology separately and selling it to online community vendors. MI Analyst offers quite a sophisticated new level of qualitative data extraction-some of the examples around medical research were really impressive, he says.

MI Analyst currently is optimized for use in the information technology and pharmaceutical industries; support for additional industry sectors is under development. Not only can Northern Light apply MI Analyst to a company's research documents, it can also be used to analyze news, published syndicated research, and specialty databases.

MI Analyst is available from Northern Light as an added-value option for SinglePoint enterprise market research portals and in stand-alone Northern Light Business News Portals, available for use on corporate intranets. Unlimited enterprisewide access to MI Analyst is included in Northern Light research and news portals that have annual subscription prices starting at $72,000. Seuss says the updated MI Analyst will eventually be available on the site as well.

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.

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