Posted: 28 May 2013 12:52 PM PDT
Identifying user sentiment has become one of the most powerful analytic tools provided by text processing companies, and Bitext’s integrative software approach is making sentiment analysis available to companies seeking to capitalize on its benefits while avoiding burdensome implementation costs. A few years ago, Lexalytics merged with Infonics. Since that time, Lexalytics has been marketing aggressively to position the company as one of the leaders in sentiment analysis. Exalead also offered sentiment analysis functionality several years ago. I recall a demonstration which generated a report about a restaurant which provided information about how those writing reviews of a restaurant expressed their satisfaction.
Today vendors of enterprise search systems have added “sentiment analysis” as one of the features of their systems. The phrase “sentiment analysis” usually appears cheek-by-jowl with “customer relationship management,” “predictive analytics,” and “business intelligence.” My view is that the early text analysis vendors such as Trec participants in the early 2000’s recognized that key word indexing was not useful for certain types of information retrieval tasks. Go back and look at the suggestions for the benefit of sentiment functions within natural language processing, and you will see that the idea is a good one but it has taken a decade or more to become a buzzword. (See for example, Y. Wilks and M. Stevenson, “The Grammar of Sense: Using Part-of-Speech Tags as a First Step in Semantic Disambiguation, Journal of Natural Language Engineering,1998, Number 4, pages 135–144.)
One of the hurdles to sentiment analysis has been the need to add yet another complex function which has a significant computational cost to existing systems. In an uncertain economic environment, additional expenses are looked at with scrutiny. Not surprisingly, organizations which understand the value of sentiment analysis and want to be in step with the data implications of the shift to mobile devices want a solution which works well and is affordable.
Fortunately Bitext has stepped forward with a semantic analysis program that focuses on complementing and enriching systems, rather than replacing them. This is bad news for some of the traditional text analysis vendors and for enterprise search vendors whose programs often require a complete overhaul or replacement of existing enterprise applications.
I recently saw a demonstration of Bitext’s local sentiment system that highlights some of the integrative features of the application. The demonstration walked me through an online service which delivered an opinion and sentiment snap in, together with topic categorization. The “snap in” or cloud based approach eliminates much of the resource burden imposed by other companies’ approaches, and this information can be easily integrated with any local app or review site.
The Bitext system, however, goes beyond what I call basic sentiment. The company’s approach processes contents from user generated reviews as well as more traditional data such as information in a CRM solution or a database of agent notes, as they do with the Salesforce marketing cloud. One important step forward for Bitext’s system is its inclusion of trends analysis. Another is its “local sentiment” function, coupled with categorization. Local sentiment means that when I am in a city looking for a restaurant, I can display the locations and consumers’ assessments of nearby dining establishments. While a standard review consists of 10 or 20 lines of texts and an overall star scoring, Bitext can add to that precisely which topics are touched in the review and with associated sentiments. For a simple review like, “the food was excellent but the service was not that good”, Bitext will return two topics and two valuations: food, positive +3; service, negative -1).
A tap displays a detailed list of opinions, positive and negative. This list is automatically generated on the fly. The Bitext addition includes a “local sentiment score” for each restaurant identified on the map. The screenshot below shows how location-based data and publicly accessible reviews are presented.
Bitext’s system can be used to provide deep insight into consumer opinions and developing trends over a range of consumer activities. The system can aggregate ratings and complex opinions on shopping experiences, events, restaurants, or any other local issue. Bitext’s system can enrich reviews from such sources as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Epinions, and others in a multilingual environment
Bitext boasts social media savvy. The system can process content from Twitter, Google+ Local, FourSquare, Bing Maps, and Yahoo! Local, among others, and easily integrates with any of these applications.
The system can also rate products, customer service representatives, and other organizational concerns. Data processed by the Bitext system includes enterprise data sources, such as contact center transcripts or customer surveys, as well as web content.
In my view, the Bitext approach goes well beyond the three stars or two dollar signs approach of some systems. Bitext can evaluate topics or “aspects”. The system can generate opinions for each topic or facet in the content stream. Furthermore, Bitext’s use of natural language provides qualitative information and insight about each topic revealing a more accurate understanding of specific consumer needs that purely quantitative rating systems lacks. Unlike other systems I have reviewed, Bitext presents an easy to understand and easy to use way to get a sense of what users really have to say, and in multiple languages, not just English!
For those interested in analytics, the Bitext system can identify trending “places” and topics with a click.
Stephen E Arnold, May 29, 2013
Sponsored by Augmentext