Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Read the news? NonStop information presentation powered by InkaBinka!

Mobility is bringing with it advantages that benefit us all but in our quest to be constantly informed about what’s going on – in the business world at large, as well as  within our company – it’s mandating changes to how we deliver content.

It seems more than sensible to spend time in America’s southwest at this time of year. Polar Vortexes, snow storms swinging down from the Pacific Northwest, and any number of frigid ice-bound days is enough to have any sane person pulling out roadmaps and checking upcoming conference schedules to see if any might be in a warmer location. Fortunately, I received press passes to two important industry events – one in Las Vegas, Nevada,  organized by ATMIA (the ATM Industry Association) with the other in Phoenix, Arizona, organized by BAI (which stands for Bank Administration Institute, but is better known as the organizers of the annual Retail Delivery show). No matter how you describe the benefits that come through participation the first thought that comes to mind at this time of year is that these are very warm places to visit.

While I have already covered some aspects of the ATMIA event in posts to this blog, the BAI event proved every bit as interesting and indeed intriguing, as the earlier event in Las Vegas overlapped on the more obvious topics. Interesting? Of course both events brought out a sizable vendor presence, with many vendors familiar to all in the NonStop community. Intriguing? With the emphasis heavily skewed towards mobility, the challenges for Financial Institutions (FIs) became clear from the very first presentation. Obvious? No skirting the issue when it comes to FIs, security remains front and center but I will leave to a later post further discussion on security.

“In general, it’s not easy to simply add features,” said one consultant during a panel session. When it comes to today’s smartphones, “It becomes far too dense and difficult to find” a reference to the limitations that can come with providing feature rich apps. “Perhaps it’s a case of going back to supporting an app that does just one thing,” the consultant concluded, even if “this flies in the face of the promoting ‘if we add more features, we will generate more interest and hence, more usage.” All of us at some point have had to squint particularly hard just to see what icon to tap, let alone expand to a readable size some important message or email.

However, there’s no getting away from the impact smart phones and tablets are having on our lives. In a promotional email from IDG Connect on March 6, 2015, the opening lines were hard to ignore.  “It's no secret that the use of smart phones is exploding. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 34% Americans go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.” And therein lies confirmation of the dilemma we all face – even as we modernize our applications, are they a good fit for the form factor supported by a mobile phone, and indeed, are we pursuing presenting more even as we require less real estate? Clearly, the truck driver observed at last year’s NonStop Advanced Technical Boot Camp understood that big objects in his pickup weren’t a good fit for the underground garage!

For more on this I turned to my good friend, Kevin McGushion, CEO of InkaBinka. From the first time I stepped into his garage and posted of his accomplishments from such a humble workshop, Kevin has continued to amaze with what he conceives and then brings to market – his InkaBinka has been featured at HP Discover 2014 in Las Vegas and Barcelona. “Information today is in ‘long format’ which is best consumed using a desktop (large) device. Mobile devices are now much more convenient; however, the information available hasn’t changed to fit this much smaller form factor,” said Kevin.

Going deeper into the approach he is taking with InkaBinka, we have “created the bridge by processing the currently available information into a format that is tailored for today’s mobile world. Vast amounts of information are created in long form every day, which makes it less accessible for our “Twitter-ized” world; not to mention our shorter attention spans.  From news articles to internal corporate documents to Google search, information is too long and much of it is superfluous. By distilling Big Info and making it available for quick mobile consumption and presentation, people now have new access to important information, in their hands and in seconds.”

InkaBinka has developed powerful and unique Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, according to Kevin, “that allows it to summarize large content into concise bullets in near real time.  This is based on a self-learning algorithm created by InkaBinka that reads articles, extracts keyword, context, and sentiment analysis and applies our abstraction technology.  With abstraction as opposed to extraction, new concepts and sentences are created from a corpus of documents or a single story.” It is self-learning, and by this Kevin means InkaBinka, “understands subtle things like when Syria is a country or when it is a girl’s name.”

For the NonStop community, think of this as a new, modern way to display content. We all live in a constantly evolving business climate where it’s becoming much harder to stay abreast of important information exchanges – key messages may be buried deep within an email chain or be a partial quote in a press release. How are we expected to find a needle in essentially a stack of needles, as I heard it described recently in a popular television show. The challenge for everyone in the NonStop community, whether part of the financial community or not, is how to best utilize the smaller form factor supported by today’s mobile phones. Whether we are discussing the latest monitoring solution, the results of a database inquiry, or simply presenting an invoice, statement or balance – being able to refine the information to where it only takes a couple of lines to present is becoming the focal point for many companies.

Just recently, InkaBinka developers pointed their technology at a recent blog posting of mine (on Real Time View) and boiled it down to the essential three to four points. Cool – and yes, it was accurate. So, here’s the scoop. I believe enterprises are drowning in information and the higher up the organization you climb, the less time there is to read everything. Take emails, for instance. How do you know which emails to read, and then which ones you are being copied on simply out of courtesy or for protocol reasons? Ouch; so, a language that can analyze information on the fly and reduce content to readable summaries, I believe, will prove beneficial to all engaged in database access, including Big Data, not to mention any social media for corporate use .

However, is InkaBinka truly unique? What about Flipboard? Reddit? Not to mention my own go-to site, LinkedIn? Taking Reddit as just one example, Kevin notes that “InkaBinka is the only technology that uses NLP to create four concise, abstracted bullet points that summarize a story.  All other aggregators simply use the headline, in some cases the byline and a link to the article. After a reader clicks in they are left to the drudgery of reading 2000 words, which almost no one does.” As a for instance, Kevin noted, “After you click the Reddit link to the Harrison Ford story you are taken out to the long read; Reddit has no value add other than to post virtually everything in title form at their site which requires more time than anyone has to read through.  It’s more a site to post cat photos and memes, really. This comparison is true for Flipboard, Facebook, Linkedin, Circa, Feedly, News 360, and all traditional news sites (CNN, ABC, FOX, NBC, LA Times, NY Times, etc.). Yahoo News Digest attempts to summarize but still is paragraphs long and bit-of-news does a manual summary of about 4 stories a day and it is very non-visual.”

For the NonStop community, it’s not only interesting because of the changes it fosters with content presentation but also because of the relationship InkaBinka enjoys with HP. Running today on Moonshot and implemented using Node.js, it provides insight as to one possible direction NonStop may be likely heading. While the HP Moonshot team is focused intently on building a presence in the marketplace, already I see great potential in having NonStop reside on Moonshot cartridges at some point – supported by HP NonStop R&D directly or via proxy that includes a NonStop partner.

With NonStop X about to launch and Node.js support coming from a NonStop partner even as so much is being discussed about possible hybrid solutions it’s as if the moons are aligning for even greater NonStop engagement with some of the most creative applications on the planet. Today InkaBinka is focused on making sure we can read the news on our smartphones easily and quickly, it doesn’t take too much imagination to consider all sorts of possibilities when it comes to pointing InkaBinka at NonStop. Will this happen at some point? As Kevin quickly points out, if the market for such a product becomes apparent, “we could turn on a dime to address it!”

Getting out of the office to listen to users and vendors alike – even if the temperature is more conducive to sunbathing by the pool – trumps reading articles and trolling through web sites any time. Getting enough background for any story is always an issue, particularly as the number of sources continues to grow almost exponentially. InkaBinka is certainly looking to fix this and the mere fact that the company executives are talking with as one-eyed a NonStop commentator as exists today, is a very good sign. My imagination may run wild from time to time but is that a necessarily a bad thing?

NonStop is a thriving business and the greater the openness, the greater the commoditization, the wider the net can be cast and who knows, it’s not inconceivable that one day, I will be accessing EMS events on my smartphone via InkaBinka-powered monitoring solutions! 

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