How IBM Disrupted Google With “News as a Service”

If you or I need to find news, everyone knows you can “just Google it”.  Or use news.google.com

In the Enterprise, however, analyzing the news in real-time for actionable insights in Marketing or Risk decisions, we’ve always needed teams of analysts.

Even though Google’s been the defacto search tool, new Twitter and Facebook firehoses are here and our analysts just can’t monitor our real-time world anymore.

Now, with big data, machine intelligence and cloud computing, we have a dawn of new solutions.  IBM has bet its existence on cloud and cognitive computing – in the “news analytics” space it’s bearing fruit.

Let’s take a look at how in one single move, IBM has just disrupted Google search, other news aggregators and many human analysts by making the world’s news available in a new database form for innovative applications to use – it’s a new API (Application Programming Interface) and we can call it “News as a Service“.

With IBM’s recent acquisition of AlchemyAPI, IBM establishes itself as a leader in bringing real-time text analysis to scalable apps.  Its purchase fits in nicely with the IBM Watson and Bluemix development platform and will extend its existing ability to ingest millions of unstructured documents and make sense of them:

AlchemyAPI’s mission is to power a new generation of smart applications that understand human language and vision by democratizing breakthroughs in deep learning-based artificial intelligence. Its easy-to-use, high-performance cloud services for real-time text analysis and computer vision give companies the intelligence needed to transform vast amounts of unstructured data into actions that drive their business.

AlchemyAPI works by processing any source of unstructured data and essentially understanding its content. Not only can AlchemyAPI extract people and places and context from text, it can also detect content from pictures.

News as a Service: The “News API”

We already know that news is an industry that needs to transform to survive.  Making it more challenging for the news industry is a new application that AlchemyAPI itself built – called the “News API” – which uses its own API service to add value to the straight news itself. As described in Programmable Web by its lead engineer, Pawan Lakshmanan :

AlchemyAPI directly crawls more than 75,000 websites and monitors hundreds of thousands of news feeds. All this data is enriched using natural language processing algorithms, indexed, and stored in the AlchemyData platform which is our proprietary analytics data store.

Real-Time Notifications

Take as an example a credit risk manager at a bank reviewing a particular industry portfolio.  Beyond the internally available exposure data updating daily, the banker needs to be notified of any published news signalling issues with any counterparties in the portfolio.  This used to require time-consuming manual scans of the online news by dedicated portfolio analysts resulting in static “analytical reports”.

That was yesterday.  Imagine now that the organization’s business intelligence systems can access the news service automatically and notify the credit risk manager in real-time when negative events are reported for the industry or a counterparty.

Why is this Better Than Today’s News “Services”?

For the CIO supporting the CMO’s needs, besides the speed, how has this innovation been made possible?

The best service should come from the news sources themselves. In fact, the New York Times had already developed its own API for querying articles. The problem is that the NYTimes API only provides very basic querying for one source, the NYTimes.

Then there’s Google, the global news aggregator. Amazingly, Google once had a news API but it was quite basic and Google discontinued it.

The AlchemyAPI News API, on the other hand, ingests the world’s news (like Google) and transforms it with new intelligence to insert itself between end users and news organizations.  It automates a digital interpretation of the text with natural language processing algorithms that can also extract positive and negative sentiment.

Marketers Need Sentiment Analytics

For Marketers, a positive or negative product or service review anywhere on the web can be instantly flagged and acted upon.  Speed is important to today’s digital marketer.

Like Google, the AlchemyAPI News API goes beyond traditional news to blogs.  Now that IBM’s deal with Twitter and Facebook (Facebook and IBM Team Up to Supercharge Personalized Ads) feeds it real-time tweets and status updates, real-time sentiment can now be served up.

Conclusions

1. With AlchemyAPI in its toolkit, IBM transforms news with intelligent, automated analysis in a database that can be easily integrated into today’s mobile and enterprise applications.

2. The “cognitive computing” and machine learning space is moving quickly and driving real value for the enterprise – in Marketing and Risk especially.  IBM has leap-frogged other cloud competitors and essentially disrupted Google’s place in the news aggregator value chain.

3. Human interpretation is being augmented or sometimes replaced with lightning fast, automated news analysis.  Analysts across the organization need to transform themselves to leverage these new technologies or face disruption themselves.

Bonus: Food for Thought

If extracting the meaning from the news is the holy grail, how can the news industry sustain itself by just “publishing” the news?

Keep the conversation going and stay connected with me at linkedin.com/in/alanwunsche