In early 2007, FirstData scooped up Intelligent Results, an innovator in the use of text mining for predictive analytics. The subsequent acquisition by Business Objects of Inxight, described as a text mining and analysis company, occurred in May 2007 and was followed by the acquisition by Reuters of ClearForest, solidifying the trend. Meanwhile, Bill Inmon is contributing to catalyzing the trend by launching a start up with nine patent filings and an innovative approach to textual extract, transform, and load (ETL) that leverages the standard relational database and token parsing, avoiding the pitfalls and complexities of natural language processing while delivering results similar in scope and value. This does not make Business Objects a data aggregator or newswire service any more than it makes Reuters or FirstData a business intelligence (BI) company. However, it does show that the creation of information out of unstructured data represents the zone of proximal development in redefining the limits of what is possible using IT.

In both BI and content aggregation, it is what you don't know that can hurt you. The business cannot even express the terms of the relevant issue and remains inarticulate - until trouble strikes. Really big business problems have occurred when enterprises did not have the right answers because they were not even asking the right questions. It is this second order ignorance - I do not know what I do not know - that is most dramatically demonstrated in such front-page business meltdowns. Catastrophic failure in automotive tire tread separation, the backdating of options in the context of executive compensation, distress in the sub-prime mortgage lending market are all similar in that the answers as well as the questions were outside the focus of business awareness, analysis and problem solving. The resulting surprises have been both costly and painful.

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