Making Information Governance Pay Off With Integrated Data Governance - Q&A with Irene Polikoff, CEO and Co-Founder, TopQuadrant
JW: Knowledge graphs are getting a lot of attention now. Why are they so important?
IP: That's a great question. We believe that knowledge graphs are important because they can capture any information in a way that supports understanding of relationships across individual nuggets of data and also supports semantic reasoning. In the knowledge graph, information is organized in a way that's very similar to how we, as people, think and reason. Unlike, let's say, relational databases in a knowledge graph, you don't need to force-feed information into some obscure structures. And knowledge graphs give you both granularity as well as semantic richness. Knowledge graphs capture not only data, but very importantly, they can also capture the theory, context, and background knowledge behind this data—something we call the “semantic model.”
This combination of data and model is what makes it possible to draw additional conclusions called inferences. For example, the data may be the fact that you are interviewing me, but there's a model behind it that explains what the interview is. This would mean that you would know me, I'm the CEO of TopQuadrant, it's a business interview, and therefore it could be concluded that I will be discussing TopQuadrant and its products in this interview. These are a very simple conclusions that we, as people, make naturally every day. Knowledge graphs make it easier for algorithms to make similar conclusions without having to write specialized code for each situation.
JW: Thanks, Irene. What types of organizations and industries does TopQuadrant typically work with?
IP: The size of our customers varies, and some are very large companies. For example, among our customers is one of the three largest banks in the world and also one of the three largest pharma companies. But we also have customers that are mid-sized, and even some smaller startups that are looking for a more flexible and powerful way to manage information geographically. Most of our customers are either in North America or in Europe, and, as far as industries, pharma and healthcare is our largest sector because there is a lot of rich terminology and rich background knowledge in this sector. We also have customers in financial services, digital media, government, and other sectors.
Recently, we've been seeing increased interest in the infrastructure and construction sectors. We think that that is probably driven by the infrastructure upgrades and digitalization—the movement toward smart cities, smart homes, digital twins, and so on.
JW: So, why do these customers come to you? What are the advantages and the value that they see in TopQuadrant?
IP: They want to take advantage of the capabilities we have just discussed. For example, one of our pharma customers uses TopBraid EDG to align the results of drug trials with standard terms and reference data from terminologies such as SNOMED [Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine], MeSH [Medical Subject Headings], and other vocabularies. And this helps them in integrating information collected across different types of clinical trials and gives them ability to draw additional insights.
Another example is the U.S. Department of the Interior. There, EDG is used to support a number of strategic initiatives among the different communities within the agency. For example, the wildland fire community involves actually numerous different inter-agency federal, state, and local stakeholders that have programs for strategically reducing vegetation to limit fuel for fires. They are using TopBraid EDG to capture their core organization and legal framework and the interrelationships between the agencies and how data flows across the applications. This information can help them facilitate the broader community, share collective knowledge about the wildfires, the overall data domain subject area of it, and ultimately to reduce and gain better control over fires.
JW: That's great. What's next for TopQuadrant?
IP: This is a very exciting time for us. We founded TopQuadrant with a strong vision of making data more meaningful in order to empower people and organizations. Back then, this vision was pretty far ahead of its time, in terms of mainstream understanding and adoption. For example, the term "knowledge graph" did not even exist yet. It took some time for the market to catch up and for industry engineers to develop.
We sense that we are now at an inflection point, as demonstrated by the strong growth in our prospects and customers. And it's very rewarding to see that original vision becoming a reality and to be validated so strongly by both customers and by analysts like Gartner. We're continuing to make EDG better and more powerful with every new release, with a strong involvement of our customers who tend to be very active and great advocates for our product. In fact, there have been several cases when someone in a customer team changes their job, and then the first thing they do is to bring EDG into their new organization. We're looking forward to even more customers and great successes in this journey.
JW: Thanks, Irene. For people wanting to learn more about information governance and specifically TopQuadrant, how can they follow up?
IP: The best way to do it is to go to our website, TopQuadrant.com. The site is very rich in information. There are webinars, videos, white papers, and informative blogs. Visitors can also fill out a form to request a personalized demo, any information, and even start evaluation of TopBraid EDG. This will start the conversation going. Another way is that any interested party could simply drop us an email at email@example.com.