In truth, I thought it a dull week of post-Olympic depression, but for the professional grinch it had some brighter moments. I watched England losing a Test Match that they might have won but for the lack of something extra-ordinary. I hear that something extra-ordinary took place in a Las Vegas hotel room, leading to a potential new Olympics sport. But between the sports pages and the gossip columns it felt like a really “silly season” sort of week. Except that it wasn’t. At all. Two things fell to Earth which exemplify where and how quickly we are going in the information services and solutions marketplace. Two routine announcements, but read them as confirmations that the changes we have been tracking here are market-wide, deeply embedded and worth real investment.

The first that caught my eye was the purchase of Adeptra by Fair Isaacs (FICO). Now, the credit rating sector has never been at the leading edge of workflow delivery, though in other parts of the same wood companies like Experian are foremost players in data analytics, and the whole risk management sector is in the vanguard when it comes to service solutioning. So an outfit like FICO  ( knows all about solutions, and its FICO Score service is currently said to be the US industry standard for consumer credit risk assessment. Adeptra (, a UK software house, with almost 20 years of experience in its market, has emerged as a leading power in customer connectivity in this sector. Cloud based, SaaS configured, and running in voice, SMS, mobile and email to resolve credit-based issues in real-time. In other words, this is technology used by banks to improve customer engagement, and if those banks are (and they mostly are) using FICO scoring systems, then a bigger solution is possible, more dots join up, the banks get to gratefully outsource a bit more functionality, and everyone gets to go home happy, except for players like Equifax who now have to think about what the competitive response may be.

And the reason this intrigues me so much is the timing. FICO have known Adeptra since 2002. In 2007 they became strategic partners as FICO Falcon Fraud Manager was integrated with Adeptra’s package. And of course, as the world has gone mobile and these two players move globally into younger, and thus more mobile-dominated markets, the importance of partnership grew. But acquisition in a $115m cash deal? Only a few years ago that would have had managers talking up the cultural and geographic differences instead of emphasizing the importance of full workflow integrated answers for customers. This is a real step forward in competitive positioning, and could precipitate an arms race in acquisitions in the credit and risk management sector. And  I wonder what the FICO Score is on a Royal Prince in a gambling joint?

And my second choice? The Thomson Reuters Life Sciences Partner Ecosystem. Did I miss its real significance when it launched in April? Probably – the title is a long one and so many things are now called Ecosystems that the word has slightly lost its bearings: hence the ironic title of this piece. But I did not lose track of the news that GenoSpace had this week joined this club, which now boasts six members (Accelrys, Entagen, IBDS, INOVA and Symbiosys being the others. GenoSpace (“Own your own genome” was a last year start-up which has a passion for the ability of individuals to store and control access to their own genomic data. Others in this group are also users of Thomson Reuters’ Life Sciences data. Particularly interesting to me is IDBS, the lab notebook player, but they all have something in common: they can use Thomson Reuters data to help them build a service and cross-referencing component within their own services and solutions, so that the T-R data becomes an “Intel Inside” element which helps each service sell a more complete solution to each chosen party. This then is a real club, co-operating around the Thomson Reuters Cortellis platform. Here is how they describe it:

“If you are an innovative services and technology-based company with a vested interest in the life sciences, a partnership with Thomson Reuters could enhance your client offerings with comprehensive and timely scientific data and competitive intelligence.

Thomson Reuters supports access to the company’s life sciences information at the point of customer need through application-specific solutions developed by third party partners, creating a mutually beneficial solution for users. These solutions can potentially include data ranging from ontologies, to biological target information and information to support pharmaceutical business development activities.

For more information on how to join the Thomson Reuters Partner Ecosystem for Life Sciences, please email us at:

Note — Thomson Reuters Life Sciences Partners are not resellers and are not authorized to resell Thomson Reuters solutions.”

I included the note at the end deliberately. This is about co-operation and forming communities of interest. Just as FICO must now own its communications pathways to compete, this unit of Thomson Reuters must form collaborative relationships with small or specialized players to intensify the seamlessness of delivered solutions. Both critical trends. And they even go forward in a news free summer break – news free unless you are a Prince, that is.


Here is an extract from a story carried by the International Herald Tribune on 14 August 2012;

The Express Tribune
august 14, 2012

Quaid’s speech calling for religious, ethnic tolerance missing from Radio Pakistan’s archives.

KARACHI: The audio recordings of every speech of the Quaid-e-Azam are with Radio Pakistan – except for one.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s landmark speech at the Constituent Assembly’s
first meeting on August 11, 1947 in Karachi has been missing for decades
and all recent efforts to retrieve it have so far been in vain.

These days, Radio Pakistan runs an Urdu translation recorded in
somebody else’s voice of the same speech. Where the original speech
disappeared, and whether this was deliberate, remains an unanswered

It may be no coincidence that the missing speech has these famous
words in it: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are
free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this
state of Pakistan …You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that
has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

It was also in this speech that the founder had said that the first
duty of a government was to maintain law and order, “so that the life,
property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by
the state.”


Important words, and never more so than at this time. And almost certainly not lost – mislabelled, misfiled, disguised by inadequate metadata, maybe, but it is worth a small wager that the speech turns up one day – so very many things do. The world is full of attics and libraries from which lost symphonies, early works of poetry, the juvenilia of great writers reappear with monotonous regularity. This speech will be found.

But the story interested me because it provided a graphic reminder of the problem and potential of speech, and returned me to a long held conviction – that voice is the real future of search. However, I no longer believe that the route to this is through Google and the other search engines. though I am aware of Google’s downloadable voice search app, and I am sure that the pace set in this area will accelerate as Google get even further invested in the future of the smart phone. However, we need semantic technologies that can treat text as voice and vice versa for search purposes, and while we have evidence of many attributes in this pipeline, we seem to be a long way away from finding a universal solution, and one that resolves the legacy content issues as well.

I am coming to believe, however, in the explosive growth potential for voice in business, partly because of Siri and its ilk, partly because of the need to get more functionality into the phone than the keyboard will allow, but mostly because I can now see a group of very relevant business areas where being able to move seamlessly from voice to text, to be able to search both using either, unlocks productivity gains that cannot be attained in any other way. My conclusions on this were formed by following two companies quite closely. One was Aurix (, a former UK Defense establishment company privatized within QinetiQ and now owned by Avaya. No prizes for guessing where their voice interests began, but their interests now lie far beyond security and intelligence. The other is BigHand (, bought earlier this year by my colleagues at Bridgepoint, where I do some media advisory work. It happens that both of these are UK technology companies, but I am sure that we could find equivalents for them in the USA or Israel.

Clearly a vital sector for voice search remains security. Searching voicemail alone when required is a major undertaking (not even the News of the World in its prime had the right technologies). Beyond this, media and broadcasting is surely a primary market. No one who drowned in the ocean of superlatives surrounding the London Olympics can doubt that heavyweight voice technologies of the sort that Aurix deploys will be as critical as the major investment put together by the BBC, partnering with MarkLogic, to put in the text-image-video handling platform that sat behind the BBC Sport website. And then we put together the fastest growing sector – monitoring and searching voice messages, recorded conversations  and realtime calling in direct selling and customer service contexts. The productivity gains are as large as the range of uses is wide – checking compliance and script adherence, learning from common complaints, measuring call centre workloads, analysing trends in customer response etc etc.

And there are two marketplaces where voice records, the ability to attach them to text records, and to search both at the same time, has always been important, even when it wasn’t possible. One is the law practice market, and the other is the health market. Here there are solid traditions of voice recording, but real productivity gains to be made (for example, in legal eDiscovery) by using effective voice search. BigHand are market leaders in legal dictation and have the exciting prospect before them of what seemed a limited market a few years ago now opening out in an interesting way to embrace technology change which will then move into education (voice reports?), surveying, engineering and then some of the science research disciplines. As a law database publisher in 1982, I now have the delightful prospect of seeing another wave come ashore in the same market with very similar productivity, and compliance, advantages.

So here then is a brief sketch of a demand-led digital voice revolution. In 2020 we will ask our screen for research results, and define if we want them by ear or by eye – bearing in mind that some of the results will be transcripted voice turned into text, and others will be text turned into speech. Around then we shall find the missing speech in this news story – and admire again the wonderful sentiments of the speaker.



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