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Look for tangible examples of semantic technology being employed, and you often encounter government and life sciences projects, NLP enhanced search services (such as Hakia or Cuil), or the much written about systems such as Freebase or Twine, where the semantic aspects are related to how the information in them is connected (TrueKnowledge brings the semantics closer to the surface).

For the 2008 Semantic Technology Conference, its organizers (Semantic Universe) wanted to take a look at what is going on in terms of applying these capabilities within a few sectors. For this, I organized a panel to discuss the use of the related tools within the financial space. What follows is a summary of an article I wrote on what we learned. The full writeup is in the latest issue of Talis’ Nodalities Magazine (see Issue 3, which is full of great material).

The long and the short of the discoveries were:
– There is in fact work going on here;
– the most visible of which is in financial publishing;
– and most paradigmatic, it seems, is the potential in financial reporting

The article includes perspectives shared during the panel session, which Dr. Christian Halaschek-Wiener, CTO of Clados Management, moderated – as well as descriptions of activities from some who were not able to join us. Key in digging into the topic was consideration of different realms within “finance”, and the business processes within those realms:

§ EDI/Transaction Enablement: Ioachim Drugus (SemanticSoft) EDI related work in Transaction Enablement/Management for the realm of Trading;
§ Credit Ratings: JR Gardner (Digitas) explained large Credit Rating Agency use of taxonomies, ontologies, RDF and OWL to enable interoperability of enterprise systems. Kendall Clark (Clark & Parsia) explained later that their Moodys had motivated and sponsored the recently released version of the Pellet reasoner.
§ Insurance: Jonathan Mack (Guardian Life) gave an Insurance perspective and discussed implementation within large enterprise.
§ Banking: David Palaitis (Citi) shared during our planning efforts that their use of RDF and ontologies for a Fixed Income group to improve the functioning of a legacy Regulatory Compliance system. Similarly, Shahin Nassiri (JP Morgan) outlined having defined a business process taxonomy, and maping applications to that taxonomy using OWL.
§ Identity Management: Tom Ilube (Garlik) couldn’t stay for the panel, but explained their applicability to the consumer needs in banking and finance, with identity monitoring and management built on semantic architecture.
§ Information Industry: Christine Connors (Dow Jones), and Tom Tague (Thomson-Reuters /Calais) shared what they and their media organizations are doing around direct delivery of financial information, with discussion of semantics for machines and people, respectively.
§ Information Services: Leo Keller (Netbreeze) and YY Lee (FirstRain) shared how they utilize NLP and classification capabilities to scour global content and serve up processed information in function-specific wrappers for segments of the financial community.
§ Financial Reporting: Eric Cohen (PriceWaterhouse Coopers) explained the potential impact that XBRL could have on the financial information landscape – from reporting and processing of financial information, to its distribution and analysis. Related to this, Elmar Drewitz (DrewITz Consulting) is working on XBRL to OWL mechanization for transformation of financial reports.

So the value propositions exposed through this effort included not just search efficiency, data integration and interoperability – but business process management, increased delivery speed, security, and user experience/usability, to name a few. Significantly, we also saw that the financial world’s leveraging of these technologies is to come not just of efforts from within, but from the providers of information services to it.

Be sure to read the full article for more detail. Hopefully this is the beginning of the conversation. Where and how else are you seeing these tools being implemented within and/or for financial purposes?

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