The Irony of Semantics; the different meanings – 2014 Semantic Technology Conference

Expert System was well represented and our semantic technology platform, Cogito, was again well received at the 10th Annual Semantic Technology Business Conference (SemTech) held at the San Jose Convention Center (August 19th – 21st). The conference continues to see good participation from professionals across a variety of industries and technical disciplines and our booth at the event proved to gather a lot of attention.

As the organizers are now collocating the SemTech Conference with the NoSQL Now! Conference, it is worth noting that an interestingly large amount of the sessions were dedicated to the NoSQL topic and improving relational database storage by imbedding some well needed contextual analysis and understanding word meaning.

While at the event we attended a number of sessions. We did not uncover any new technology breakthroughs but we did experience a lot of positive energy, thoughtful dialogue and excitement, both at the presentations and at the trade event. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the 70+ sessions were dedicated to fundamental knowledge management topics. There were many sessions focused specifically on ontologies and taxonomies: how to develop them, how to use them, along with sessions covering industry standards such FIBO and W3C. There were also presentations that covered OWL, RDF, the Semantic web, W3C Standards and the always hot topic of applying semantics to improve the results of the current enterprise search applications available in the market for corporations to deploy.

There were many session topics with the word “semantics” in the session title, but upon taking a deeper look, these sessions spent most of the time talking about normalizing relational data and the associated databases. Most of the energy at the SemTech Conference remains devoted to the tools that work to enable term standardization by mapping relational database column headings rather deploying a true semantic technology platform that understand the meaning of words in context. Only through the combination of a deep linguistic analysis, combined with a semantic platform (read: language ontology) can the ambiguity of language be removed to establish word meaning accurately.

On the industry side, the two most popular industry specific topics, where Health Care and Financial Services and most of the energy was surprisingly dedicated to the basics of how to master the key building blocks of an effective knowledge management system. With this in mind, we were surprised to learn that we were the only company in attendance that views the ability to perform contextual analysis as the root, or the fundamental key to success, when deploying a true semantic platform. Due to the ambiguity inherent in language, if an organizational knowledge management system cannot differentiate between “stock” the financial instrument and “stock” the items for sale on a shelf, companies will always be wading in too much information that does not apply. Without a platform that is able to establish the distinction, little will change and industry be stuck in the status quo of, “…it’s good enough”. This is where we believe the Expert System platform, Cogito, shines and offers an unmatched, industry unique solution to remove language ambiguity.


: the study of the meanings of words and phrases in language

: the meanings of words and phrases in a particular context

: the study of meanings

Merriam Webster: 

SemTech remains an important venue for the industry and an excellent forum for discussion. This event is one of the few opportunities for the dialogue to continue to mature around the topic of removing the ambiguity inherently found in text and get to the true meaning of words. And it is a conference that Expert System will continue to support.

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