IBM this week made its Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) reference implementation available as open source via SourceForge.net. The goal is to allow more UIMA compliant analytical approaches to work with cohesion, and so to help close the gap between tacit human knowledge and what search engines do so well, namely to index and match labels.
UIMA is poised to help take enterprise search to the next level: To go beyond swift location and access of relevant indexed information to excising a gem of human experience someone else labored over and applying it to a similar appropriate future action. Much of the easier work around automating digital access to structured information has been done, so now we're in the more difficult phase of locating, identifying, and standardizing access to tacit and specialized knowledge.
The details of how the open source community and licensing for UIMA reference implementation code are still being worked out, but expect something close to the Apache and SQL standards approaches and licensing terms. IBM is also looking to Eclipse for a model of how to make UIMA popular among developers and architects.
While the payback from getting more knowledge and tacit information into a indexed and searchable milieu makes great sense, building the organizational willpower to dictate and enforce the work required to seed the future payback will be a challenge. Developers and architects are affected by UIMA, but CIOs and "chief knowledge officers" are where the momentum needs to come from, that is top-down.
Meanwhile, some weighty organizations, such as DARPA, and other government agencies, are using UIMA as the basis for the Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) project. This speaks well for UIMA to emerge as a standard for associating the analytics needed to make more unstrauctures content available generally and quickly using automated indexing and search technologies. In a sense, UIMA could finally help tear down the Tower of Babel.
Knowledge is no doubt a primary currency for success in more industries, and standards and technologies such as UIMA could grease the skids of extended automated supply chains and extra-organizational process interoperability.