Well, I work in IT, and I am a "Client Technical Professional" (otherwise known as "tech sales", "pre sales", "solution consultant" and other variations less flattering), which kind of implies a certain level of familiarity or knowledge of IT on a technical level. But I am not really - I have had little IT in my formal education, and, worse, I lack the affinity and "feel" for the technical aspects of our work that make many tasks (like building demos or learning new products) so much easier for many of my colleagues.
This is not as bad as it may seem. While I do think a certain level of competence and ability is required (how it still irritates me when a manager, consultant or sales person proclaims his/her ignorance of all things technical as if it were a badge of honour), I feel very strongly that a non-technical view of our products and solutions can be very helpful, even in my seemingly predominantly technical role. A good example of this is how we position IBM Content Analytics with our partners and customers.
I think IBM Content Analytics is fantastic. Well, let me restate this - I think what we can do with IBM Content Analytics is fantastic, amazing. And I feel very strongly that the greatest value delivered by ICAwES is in its text analysis capabilities. I think that the Content Miner is great, and offers a lot of value to our customers. But for me, the even more value is created by its text modelling capabilities. Taking this a level deeper, I feel very strongly that the tooling we offer with ICAwES 3.0 to design, develop and even deploy text analysis models (this is known as Content Analytics Studio) is of enormous value to our customers and partners. Why is this so? After all, we are talking about a modelling tool, not the stuff that normally send customers hearts all aflutter. Perhaps I can best make this argument with a diagram. Its a pretty simple one, and we have all seen it in one form or another:
OK, so nothing too exciting here either, right? Well, this is where I believe IBM´s approach creates real value. One of the characteristics I have seen in most products and solutions that deliver some form of text analysis is that someone like me cannot make any substantive changes to the model, other than maybe changing some terms in a dictionary. I need to either call in the vendor, contract a partner or invest in building programming skills. In the words of a very learned respected colleague of mine, the Content Analytics Studio tool takes text modelling out of our lab and puts it where it belongs - with the customer. It gives the customer control over the entire create/modify - build - validate - analyze process. And when you think about it, isn´t this where it belongs? After all, the customer knows their own content - knows who has created it and what it means to them right? I would argue that our customers do, and I would argue something further - this transfer of control to the customer is perhaps the single most important innovation in ICAwES. I´ll explain why I make this claim in my next entry.