November 18, 2011

Most financial institutions are under significant pressure to reduce costs. Adopting an agile information model is a critical step in creating a meaningful competitive advantage. Unified Information Access (UIA) helps organizations get the best return on information by aggregating, connecting and distributing information to targeted processes and audiences across many channels -- applications, alerts, websites, dashboards, mobile devices and more.

Flexibility is the key advantage of implementing UIA. The universal information repository not only retains explicit data relationships, but extracts and links entities from content, so the aggregated information is intelligent and relational -- which in turn means that users get all the insight they need quickly. Developers can apply either fuzzy search-style queries to optimize for relevancy or standard SQL to construct more complex or precise queries. Users, who can retrieve information with free-form, search-style queries and advanced navigation techniques, gain on both ends: the method of seeking information is intuitive, and the pool of information is complete.

How is Information Unified?

UIA provides five core capabilities to ensure insight, flexibility and ease of implementation and use:

  • Data and Content Sources Are Combined
  • UIA platforms ingest all types of content and data into a single information repository. Some platforms flatten the data and lose the relational aspects; look for full-featured UIA platforms that are designed to retain these links.

  • Data Relationships Maintained and New Relationships Created
  • UIA includes text analytics that derive new data from content; making information easier to query and results more complete. Text analytics capabilities include entity extraction, document classification and sentiment analysis. These analytic methods can also create data facets that can be used to link content to data, generate charts, populate navigation and discovery interfaces.

  • Automation Allows for the Delivery of Information
  • An information repository simplifies and automates sharing, allowing adopters to aggregate information to expand availability, deliver all relevant information for any query and share this well-identified content across multiple interfaces and applications

  • All Relevant Information Retrieved With One Query
  • Uniting content and data ensures that all relevant information is retrieved when a query is issued. Queries can be issued by the user (pulled) or behind the scenes as part of a process (pushed). User queries can be phrased informally, just like a search query in any search box. The query returns data as well as content.

  • SQL Queries Leveraged If Needed
  • While not necessary to compose formal SQL queries to retrieve data, some UIA platforms support standard SQL to take advantage of more precise queries. When using SQL, developers do not need to define the data model upfront or modify a schema for changes, and data does not have to be normalized. UIA platforms don't require a data schema and can adapt to any schema that is inherited from ingested data.

    Sid Probstein is the chief technology officer at Attivio.