REVIEWER: Jerry Kagan, manager Advanced Analytics at IMS HEALTH.

BACKGROUND: IMS HEALTH is the principal source of marketing and sales management information used by healthcare organizations throughout the world. In the U.S. alone, the company collects data from hundreds of thousands of sites, processing more than 165 billion records per month. Numerous health-care organizations use the collected data to help them make critical strategic marketing and CRM decisions such as market segmentation and sales promotion effectiveness. The ability to deliver timely, accurate, comprehensible and digitized data is thus very important for IMS HEALTH.

PLATFORMS: A Windows NT server with 512MB RAM, dual 500 MHz processors and 60GB hard drive. The system is scalable to handle higher document processing capability in the future.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We were looking to develop a system for marketing analysts to help them analyze physicians' perceptions of the marketing messages delivered by sales representatives. Previously, the textual data and verbatim collected via various survey feedbacks from physicians was hand transcribed and coded into predefined categories. The 40 to 60-day-old data was then delivered to clients in paper form. The new system, Message INsight, utilizing TextAnalyst from Megaputer, automates the entire knowledge discovery, extraction, categorization and analysis process, thereby enabling quick delivery of the product to customers. The system also reduces potential quality errors and costs associated with the manual process. The project objective was to ensure that the new solution would be tightly integrated, cost efficient and utilize already existing applications to the largest possible extent in order to minimize the development cost and deployment time. With TextAnalyst, our analysts were able to create an automated, reliable process capable of quickly identifying patterns and trends, and reduce the cycle time to provide our clients with this information. Megaputer facilitated the system customization project and provided us with a version of TextAnalyst that could be integrated in Message INsight within two weeks, demonstrating rapid development and customization capabilities. We integrated the complete Message INsight solution over a period of less than four months.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TextAnalyst performs semantic information retrieval and focused text exploration around a certain subject through a balanced combination of unique linguistic and neural network technologies. Additionally, its ability to deliver accurate summarization, efficient navigation and cluster documents in a textbase are also useful features.

STRENGTHS: TextAnalyst was chosen as it provided a comprehensive and integrated capability to find patterns and relationships hidden in text verbatim data. The system could quickly extract similar words and word combinations from text, automatically hyperlink the results and easily perform clustering and summarization of text. These facts, further enhanced by a very affordable price, determined the selection of TextAnalyst.

WEAKNESSES: TextAnalyst 2.0 supported English language only. Support for European languages is under development.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After evaluating various competing systems for natural language text analysis, TextAnalyst from Megaputer Intelligence was identified as a system best suited to address the task at hand. The availability of a trial version of TextAnalyst for downloading from the Megaputer Web site significantly simplified the task of evaluating the system when applied to real product detailing verbatim we collected. Moreover, Megaputer was capable and willing to customize TextAnalyst to integrate with the SAS System and deliver results of text mining in a format that could be accepted by other components of the solution.

DELIVERABLES: The models and patterns delivered by the TextAnalyst module were used to make management reports in Excel format. Although the tool has inbuilt comprehensive reports, we chose to integrate the solution into the Excel format that is widely used in the organization. Additionally, an output in the HTML format ready to be published on the Web made the Message INsight system Web- enabled.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Megaputer was very helpful in customizing its product to meet the needs of this specific marketing application. Product support has been enthusiastic and timely, and the staff has been generous in sharing their product and domain knowledge.

DOCUMENTATION: Online documentation and tutorial are very informative and easy to use. The documentation for integrating TextAnalyst SDK components is also comprehensive.

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