News In Context

New Report Details Industry’s Use of Knowledge Graphs

A new benchmarking study released at this week’s The Knowledge Graph Conference illustrates how large corporates are starting to embrace semantic standards and knowledge graph technology.  The term knowledge graph refers to a set of standards and capabilities that help companies align data across disparate repositories.  Adoption is growing because addressing the problem of data inconsistency is a prerequisite for achieving AI-powered applications that can help companies get more value from their content, save money on data reconciliation, and usher in a new era of business innovation.

Until recently knowledge graphs were considered mainly the domain of academics and engineers who worked primarily for tech companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon.  That is clearly changing. Some 500 people attended this year’s conference, including executives from Goldman Sachs, Novartis, Morgan Stanley, AstraZeneca and Wells Fargo.

“We are seeing a dramatic increase in corporate use cases,” says conference speaker Michael Atkin, Managing Director of Content Strategies, a specialist consultancy that advises companies on data management, and principal author of the benchmarking study.  Atkin is also a co-founder of the Enterprise Knowledge Graph Foundation, which focuses on building the market for graph-related applications.

The benchmarking report highlights how enhancing  decision-making capabilities and supporting business innovation are  the clear drivers for the uptake of knowledge graphs. While business value is the goal, the report says that most existing use cases are focused on core data management objectives such as data harmonization, content integration, entity resolution and lineage traceability. That is because knowledge graphs aim to solve the data incongruence problem, which is one of the biggest operational headaches for corporates, says Atkin.  “Corporates suffer from technology fragmentation and as a result have a lot of data that doesn’t align across the organization. Doing the hard work to fix this data incongruence reality is a pre-requisite for realizing business value,” he says.

Because they are based on mature standards, knowledge graphs have the capacity to fix identification management issues and resolve meaning across sources. In addition, because the data is not linked to schemas, firms are able to extract information, perform  scenario-based analysis and link up processes across their organization, says Atkin. “The good news is that these problems are solvable,” he says. “The technology works as advertised.”  The big challenge is overcoming organizational inertia and dealing with the fear of new approaches.  “This is an issue of corporate culture,” says Atkin.  “Getting this solvability message to senior management is our biggest challenge.”

So how do knowledge graphs concretely help business? Graphs help corporates organize the information from disparate data sources to facilitate intelligent search, says Atkin. They make data understandable in business terms rather than in cryptic codes that are  only understood by a handful of specialized personnel. And they speed the goal of digital transformation that encompasses all data points as well as the relationships between data elements.

“The message for senior management is that it is possible to harmonize data throughout the organization and that graphs offer an added dimension of context which informs everything from initial data discovery to flexible analytics,” says Atkin. “In short, graphs give corporates the ability to ask business questions and get business answers rather than focusing their energy on restructuring data and managing complex database joins.”

Knowledge graph adoption is still in its emerging stage according to the report’s survey of 240 companies in multiple sectors.  Some 50% of responders said they are in the process of conducting pilots or proof of concepts primarily for limited use cases.  Beyond those that are conducting knowledge graph experiments, some 35% of companies surveyed have developed extensible/scalable platforms based in reusable architecture using expanded design principles.  These are the companies that can take advantage of concept reuse, structural quality assurance and flexible query that define the benefits of knowledge graph adoption. 

Atkin says the gap between maturity levels is significant.  “Making the leap from experimental use cases to operationalizing the knowledge graph to feed other use cases is difficult and not to be underestimated,” he says. 

Companies in the more advanced stages of rolling out knowledge graphs tend to be large conglomerates in areas such as defense, life sciences and consumer goods, says Atkin. “Companies embracing graphs like J&J, Merck, Bosch, Raytheon and the U.S. Department of Defense are rolling this out as their underlying infrastructure for data,” says Atkin.

Integration, harmonization, entity resolution, inventory, lineage and identity management make up about 60% of primary use cases, according to the report.  These represent the underlying data management infrastructure for companies and are essential “data fabric” components of the organization.  Business applications such as data discovery, financial reporting and customer profiling are built from this underlying data fabric and represent just under 40% of use cases.

 Several barriers must be overcome before the industry really takes off.  The report says overcoming organizational inertia, navigating the skills gap, dealing with budgetary constraints and governance maturity are still major inhibitors to knowledge graph adoption.

The most important challenges are those related to the “business narrative, including convincing executive leadership about the value proposition, defining implementation requirements using empirical metrics and having pragmatic discussions on what is really required to implement knowledge graphs,” the report says.



Making Oxygen For Fuel From Moon Sand

An Israeli startup, Helios, says it has developed technology that can produce oxygen needed for fuel from the lunar soil. If it works it could make multiple and long-term missions to the moon economically viable, as it will allow moon colonies to “live off the land” instead of having to carry all of their fuel and other resources from Earth. The initiative has been awarded funding from the Israeli Space Agency and the Energy Ministry to develop a system that will be launched in two space missions over the next three years, the company said in a statement.


World’s Biggest Meat Producer Purchases Dutch Plant-Based Protein Maker

Sao Paulo-based JBS, the world’s biggest meat processor, has agreed to acquire Netherlands plant-based protein brand Vivera in a deal worth €341 million. Founded in the early 1990s and based in the small east Netherlands town of Holten, Vivera offers a range of products including chicken-style nuggets and goujons, sausages, and ground ‘meat’ made from protein that has been derived from soybean, wheat, rice, and chickpea, among other sources. Its products are sold in 25 countries through major retailers including Tesco and Ocado.

Lab Grown Chicken Startup Slashes Production Costs

Israeli start-up Future Meat has claimed a huge leap towards commercial viability for its lab-grown chicken, slashing production costs by almost half in just a few months. The company, whose backers include Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson Foods and S2G, said it was now producing a 110 gram chicken breast for just under $4, down from $7.50 announced at the start of the year. Rom Kshuk, chief executive, said he expected the cost to fall to below $2 in the next 12-18 months.

Israeli AgTech Company Prospera Snapped Up By U.S. Manufacturer

Israeli agtech company Prospera, a startup that develops computer vision technologies to monitor and predict plant health and development, announced this week that it entered into an agreement to be acquired by US manufacturing company Valmont Industries, a maker of linear irrigation equipment and windmill support structures, for approximately $300 million. Founded in 2014, Prospera captures multiple layers of climate and visual data from the crop field and provides actionable, easy-to-read insights to growers via mobile and web dashboards.


Electric Truck Startup Raises $110 Million to Fuel Expansion

Swedish electric-truck startup Einride AB, one of The Innovator’s 2021 startups of the week, raised $110 million from investors including the venture capital arm of the world’s largest shipping company, AP Molller-Maersk, to expand its logistics business in Europe and in the U.S.

GM Wants To Sell Personal Autonomous Vehicles by 2030

GM CEO Mary Barra sees the automaker selling personal autonomous vehicles by the end of the decade by leveraging technology from its self-driving subsidiary Cruise, according to comments made during the company’s May 5 earnings call.Barra wasn’t providing any specifics just yet, but instead laid out a vision for the automaker’s future and how its stake in Cruise and its own internal effort to further develop its advanced driver assistance system Super Cruise might evolve over the next nine years.

India’s Ola And Uber Separately Step Up Electric Vehicle Efforts

Ola, an Indian competitor to Uber that makes its own electric vehicles, announced Tuesday it has hired Jaguar Land Rover veteran Wayne Burgess as its head of vehicle design. Burgess, who spent almost 20 years at Jaguar Land Rover working on models including the XF, F-Type, F-Pace SUV, XE, has joined Ola’s electric vehicle business, Ola Electric, where he will lead design across the company’s entire EV product range, which includes scooters, bikes and cars. Prior to Jaguar Land Rover, Burgess worked at premium British car makers including Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce. Meanwhile, Arrival, the electric vehicle manufacturer that’s attempting to do away with the assembly line in favor of highly automated microfactories, is partnering with Uber to create an electric vehicle for ride-hail drivers. Arrival expects to reveal the final vehicle design before the end of the year and to begin production in the third quarter of 2023.


New Ways Of Thinking And Working Are Necessary To Reap Blockchain Benefits In Capital Markets

A new report from the World Economic Forum  and Boston Consulting Group finds that while distributed ledger technology (DLT) offers the potential for significant market-wide transformation, market participants are still far from adopting this technology at scale at a market-wide level. Based on eight workshops, just under 200 interviews with executives from leading financial services and fintech firms, and an anonymized survey from over 60 firms, the report, which was released May 6, examines the key learnings and use cases to come from efforts around leveraging the technology over the past decade.

France’s Shift Technology Valued At $1 Billion

French start-up Shift Technology, a developer of software to help insurers detect fraudsters and one of The Innovator’s 2019 startups of the week, has closed a $220 million fundraising that brings its valuation to over $1 billion. The company, whose clients include France’s AXA, Japan’s MS&AD  and Hong Kong-based FWD Group, said it will use the funding to develop new products and add functionality to existing ones.


Thinktank Predicts Green Hydrogen Will Be Cost-Competitive With Grey H2 by 2030 Without A Carbon Price

The cost of green hydrogen is expected to see “dramatic cost reductions” this decade as the cost of renewable energy and electrolysers fall — to the point where it can compete with grey hydrogen even without a carbon price, according to climate business think-tank Energy Transitions Commission.


Lilly Inks Smart Insulin Pen Deals With Four International Providers

To make sure its upcoming connected insulin pen system will work with the user’s choice of daily diabetes management platforms, Eli Lilly has signed compatibility agreements with four international providers. The agreements include glucose monitoring sensors, digital health programs and other tools from Roche, Dexcom, Glooko and myDiabby Healthcare. Lilly is developing its Tempo Smart Button—a small device that attaches to its currently available, prefilled Tempo insulin delivery pen—to automatically record medication usage and wirelessly pair with smartphones or other devices. The company aims to secure a CE mark for the Tempo Smart Button by the end of this year, enabling it and the Tempo Pen to be sold as a single package in European markets.

To access more of The Innovator’s News In Context articles click here.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.