|By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan||
|January 30, 2013 07:00 AM EST||
Big Data & Text Analytics: As the analysis of large amounts of unstructured data is gaining a major space in enterprise computing, we are seeing the emergence of more use cases in this regard. While the term "Big" in Big Data makes it more synonymous with Massively Parallel Processing frameworks like Hadoop, however the underlying the success of Big Data relies on effective usage of content analytics of the underlying unstructured data. I have high lighted this thought process in my earlier article, Big Data Analytics Thinking Outside Of Hadoop.
Unstructured Content Analytics is defined as the process of gaining new insights from the unstructured data, by employing text mining, image recognition, voice recognition and other related analytical techniques.
Big Data Journal was launched on SYS-CON.com in 2012
The below material explains one such use case of Big Data & Text Analytics in getting meaningful insights from the Financial Reports.
Financial Reports & Analytics: All the publicly traded companies in USA & else where mandatorily disclose their corporate information to their shareholders. These annual financial statements are available as downloadable reports on the corporate websites of public companies. Apart from the annual report , there are other forms of financial statements like, investor news letters, Quarterly earning presentation, conference calls by CFO and other investor relationship documents form part of an organization's financial standing in the eyes of the investor.
Most of the investors and investment analyst firms currently uses their specialized knowledge to understand these financial statements and create meaningful insights out of them. However these analytics are mostly limited to the structured portions of the financial statements and not so much on the unstructured side of it.
To explain this more :
- For example An annual report may contain statements like Balance Sheet, Income, Equity, Cash Flows etc.. these statements are highly structured and organized as per accounting principles so that any of the qualified financial analysts can understand them
- At the same a typical financial statement also contains lot of unstructured information about growth strategies of the organization, road map, optimism, future vision, how the business model is aligned to the changing times etc...
So an effective analysis of a financial statement not only pertains to the structured information but also to the unstructured data available in the financial statements.
BigData, UIMA & Financial Report Analytics: The following Big Data aligned technologies can be effectively used in analysing the financial reports to derive meaningful insights into the large volumes of unstructured data.
- UIMA : UIMA stands for Unstructured Information Management Architecture is the major industry standard for content analytics.
- Annotators : UIMATM Annotators do the real work of extracting structured information from unstructured data. You can write your own annotators. Though Annotators form part of UIMA framework lot of custom development is written is creating Annotators specific to the needs of the Finance industry. When documents are processed through the document processing pipeline, the annotators extract concepts, words, phrases, classifications, and named entities from unstructured content and mark these extractions as annotations. The annotations are added to the index as tokens or facets and are used as the source for content analysis.
- Taxonomies : Taxonomies play a major role in identifying the topics of interest within a document using UIMA. In UIMA a type system defines the various types of objects that may be discovered in the document. Types in a UIMA type system may be organized into a taxonomy. For example, Company may be defined as a subtype of Organization
Realizing Financial Statement Analytics & Role of XBRL: There are not very many UIMA annotators and implementation of text extraction specific to financial statements. However we find that, under APACHE UIMA community there is one such annotator, The AlchemyAPI Annotator is a set of annotators that wrap the AlchemyAPI.
AlchemyAPI's (http://www.alchemyapi.com/api/) Categorization service can be used to categorize text, HTML, or web-based content, assigning the most likely topic category (news, sports, business, etc.). The business categories include topics like, Business and Finance News, SEC filings, etc.
There are several of the text analytics concepts like the below, can be applied on the financial statements
- Named Entity Extraction : Identify people, companies, organizations, cities, geographic features, and other typed entities within HTML pages and text documents/content.
- Concept Tagging : Automatically tag documents and text in a manner similar to human-based tagging.
- Keyword / Term Extraction : Extract important terms and "topic" keywords from HTML pages and text documents/content. Advanced statistical and linguistic algorithms analyze your content, "tagging" it with the most important words and phrases.
- Sentiment Analysis : Identify positive, negative and neutral sentiment within HTML pages and text documents/content.
- Relation Extraction : Identify facts and Subject-Action-Object relations within HTML pages and text documents/content.
Apart from the already developed and community supported annotators, we could develop new annotators which can take the best use of already established taxonomies for the financial industry in the form of XBRL.
XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is a language for the electronic communication of business information, providing major benefits in the preparation, analysis and communication of business information. It is one of a family of "XML" languages which is a standard means of communicating information between businesses and on the internet.
XBRL Taxonomies, are the dictionaries which the language uses. These are the categorization schemes which define the specific tags for individual items of data (such as "net profit"). National jurisdictions have different accounting regulations, so each may have its own. There are already well established approved taxonomies for financial reporting like XBRL US GAAP as listed in the site, http://www.xbrl.org/FRTApproved.
As evident from the architecture of UIMA and annotator entity extraction process, these established taxonomies can play a major role in areas like concept tagging, which can help in getting the meaningful insights from large amounts of textual and other unstructured content in the financial statements.
Summary: As enterprises and analytics vendors adopt Big Data as part of the mainstream , this adoption will be more meaningful to enable the technology to support new business use cases. Financial Analytics is one such important area , and with the support of frameworks like UIMA coupled with industry established taxonomies, such analytics are quite possible and worth to be implemented.