SemTechBiz SF 2012: Looking back to look forward
This year marked our fifth Semantic Technology Conference at the original San Francisco event. Coming to San Francisco each year is something I always look forward to, not just for the conference, but for the change of scenery and for the unique beauty and vibe that is San Francisco (and we even had a couple of sunny days this year).
For me, some highlights were the obvious and increasingly more visible merging of the world of data with the world of unstructured information and the strategic role the broadly defined semantic technologies play in it, and the growing number of implementations counting on a deep understanding of text . I also really enjoyed the workshop about ontologies, even if it got over my head pretty quickly. 🙂
I did feel like some of the program was a bit of a step back into academia, but maybe that is because there were less companies attending this year. I also noticed that most of the case studies featured are pilot projects or similar, while the real implementations are around natural language processing. I think this is because companies are more willing to share these kinds of initiatives than information about projects that really create a competitive advantage.
On the long flight back to Italy, I couldn’t help but think back to Semtechs past. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but I eventually realized that I missed that feeling of exclusivity, that this was the single event that everyone in the industry wouldn’t miss. It wasn’t for lack of people at this year’s event—there seemed to be enough attendees—but probably attributable to the fact that the conference, like the industry, has grown, and there are a lot more options and venues for taking part in the Semtech community. We’ve had the pleasure of speaking at a couple of the other newer venues, but I must admit that I miss the idea of feeling like, when we can all be everywhere all the time on the web, there is one central hub, one place where we all show up in person.
But, let’s face it, the application and recognition of semantics is growing—and that’s really good—and necessary—for our industry. The show program is a testament to companies in the same sector who are willing to collaborate for the good of the market. And the traditional data guys are also paying more attention to semantics, thanks to the ‘big data’ buzz. I think (and hope) that next year, we’ll see an even greater emphasis on the ‘Biz’ side of the conference (ROI, business driven applications of semantics, etc.), driven by some of these very things. And, I am sure I will be able to add some of our own stories next year!
Author: Luca Scagliarini