ClearForest Takes Aim At Information Overload

Editor’s Note: Israel Associate Editor Ahron Shapiro is in New York this week seeing how Israeli companies with U.S. operations are doing and how they are coping with the current economic slowdown and retrenchment. Click here for another article on this topic.

According to market research firm IDC, the amount of unstructured data in large corporations doubles every two months, while Goldman Sachs has estimated that between 80 and 90 percent of information on the Internet and corporate networks is unstructured.

These factors have created an information bottleneck for companies that rely heavily on research to develop reports and analysis, and created opportunity for creators of intelligent software that can distill distinct, useful information from large pools of sources.

The knowledge extraction software company ClearForest has developed products aimed at offering relief for businesses struggling with an information overload.

“ClearForest software can read through vast amounts of data and produce visual interactive executive summaries,” says chief executive officer Barak Pridor. “These summaries allow us to look at the forest [of data] as well as the trees.”

ClearForest’s system is designed to read through documents, find complex relationships between words, extract only relevant information and consolidate the results into a visual format.

The value of such software is not difficult to imagine. According to the company, its software can read, analyze and summarize in one day as much as a typical reader can in a year. ClearForest claims that one of its servers can do the work of 876 research employees.

Knowledge extraction is a valuable resource but one that has been challenging to implement in practice. The companies that have been developing knowledge extraction tools include Autonomy, Inxight, Semio and Israeli-based KangarooNet.

In essence, what these companies seek to develop is an artificial intelligence that can discriminate between valuable and irrelevant information inside a large pool of data of various sources. It must be able to interpret relationships between the data and compile them in a way that is useful to the researcher.

ClearForest claims to be able to do just that. The company has entered into deals with Kodak, GM, CreditSuisse and other large corporations that have found uses for the ClearForest technology.

The Israeli company, which maintains research and development facilities in Or Yehuda, Israel, employing 65 people, chose the New York’s World Trade Center as its corporate headquarters. The selection of this high-profile address, Pridor says, was helped by the fact that the company develops products of special interest to the financial services industry concentrated in the area.

Pridor says that the Israeli R&D operations have produced a broad range of benefits for the company.

“First, there are tremendously bright people there, with real-world experience, including linguistics specialists which is the core of our development,” Pridor says. “There is also a big benefit to the seven-hour time difference for customer support.”

While the ClearForest technology does not achieve 100 percent accuracy, Pridor says, it reaches 90 percent, and companies are continuing show interest in the product despite the economic slowdown because of the ways ClearForest says it can improve research efficiency.

“By accelerating research, companies can become more productive and leave more time to make decisions and use the information to derive actions,” Pridor says.

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