Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

IBM Helps NC State University Bring Innovative Technologies to Market by Harnessing "Big Data"

In analytics news from my backyard, IBM and North Carolina State University today announced a new project that will take advantage of Big Data analytics technology to match academic research with potential investors.  The biggest challenge in this process today is being able to quickly and easily comb through a large amount of data to uncover potential investors and partnerships.  From the press release:

To address this challenge, NC State will use IBM's advanced analytics technology to streamline the time consuming process of searching and matching potential university research projects with investment and partnership opportunities.

Analytics technology allows NC State researchers to search through massive amounts of Web data, such as blogs, forums, reports, industry related news sites and government websites to produce a short list of potential investors. By streamlining the matching process with business analytics, more advanced technologies are expected to be brought into the market.

For example, the technology was used to comb through and filter down 1.4 million Web pages (including blogs, social networks and documents) to the relatively small number of sites that are most relevant for the task at hand.  In the pilot project, it took less than a week it to find a potential match for a team investigating new strains of Salmonella, a process that might have taken months in the past.  As noted in the press release:  "Prior to the use of IBM analytics, this process would have taken months and involved dozens of people clipping newspaper reports, visiting Web pages, making telephone calls, hiring translators, and then trying to figure out a way to compare all these information."  When you consider that NC State has 3,000 technologies waiting to be commercialized, technology that can help greatly simplify and speed up the process of finding potential investors or partnerships can have a huge payoff.

The technology NC State is using for this project includes:
  • IBM BigSheets, a software engine from IBM's BigInsights portfolio that helps get insights from really large data sets easily and quickly
  • IBM LanguageWare, a text analytics tool created by IBM's Dublin Software Lab in Ireland for the purpose of harnessing unstructured data contained in text documents, Web site content and enterprise applications
  • IBM Cognos Content Analytics, an analytics software for accessing and analyzing unstructured content
  • These three components are running on IBM Distribution of Apache Hadoop

More details can be found in the press release (IBM Helps North Carolina State University Address 'Big Data' Challenge to Bring Innovative Technologies to Market),as well as the Smarter Planet blog (Big Data Could Help NC State Bring Faculty Innovations To Market) and the Triangle Business Journal (IBM analytics 'search engine' passes N.C. State tests).

Updated 8/11 with additional details.