“IBM plans to give away key search technologies for corporate data retrieval that use concepts and facts instead of simpler “keyword” searches” according to a press release. This could have implications in the e-discovery market. 

An IBM spokesman notes that major players such as Google and Yahoo have stayed focus on searching the Internet, not the enterprise. Now “IBM plans to openly offer other software developers its Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA), a technology that can analyze text within documents and other media to understand latent meanings, relationships and facts”. Some fifteen companies, including Attensity, Inxight, and ClearForest plan to incorporate the UIMA framework. UIMA will be available on an open-source basis.

It’s not clear what impact, if any, this will have on search in e-discovery, but it sounds promising. IBM has spent 4 years researching this framework. After the ABA TechShow in April, I spoke to an IBM spokesperson who said IBM had no interest in the e-discovery market. But by opening up the technology, e-discovery vendors will have access to it. (For more background on UIMA, see my prior posts here and here.)

Separately, for law firms running WebSphere, this announcement also has potential knowledge management implications: “IBM is also offering its WebSphere OmniFind software for helping users perform searches on unstructured data in a variety of formats or languages, be they located in databases, e-mail files, audio recordings, pictures or video images.”

Update, 1/25/06: Articles: IBM releases UIMA source code as open source; IBM Turns Over Search Project To Open Source Community
Update, 8/11/05 at noon eastern: Some additional detail at this eWeek article