One of the most exciting developments at this year's Semantic Technology Conference is the blossoming of new and robust startups that are using Semantic Web concepts as the foundation for their business.
One such company that's getting a lot of attention at this year's show is Garlik, a U.K.-based startup in the consumer privacy space. Garlik's DataPatrol product uses Semantic Web technology to track personal information for more than 50,000 customers in the United Kingdom, and the company has plans to expand the service into other markets.
CEO Tom Ilube sat down with InfoWorld at the Semantic Technology Conference to talk about his company and about the decision to build a new business on Semantic Web technology that has yet to find widespread adoption.
InfoWorld: Tell us a little about Garlik and how the company got started.
Tom Ilube: Garlik got started in 2005 when I left my role as CIO of a large U.K. bank, Egg. We were an online bank with four million customers. We grew from nothing to that size in about five years, and we were a pure consumer play. When I left Egg and was thinking about the next thing I wanted to do, I wanted it to be a consumer-oriented initiative. I was thinking five years down the road and looking around for what would be one of the biggest issues -- something that seemed like it would grow and grow -- and decided that the whole issue of personal information and personal privacy was it.
InfoWorld: Good instinct.
TI: It wasn't rocket science. You could just look around and see 'Yeah, people are putting all this information out there.' There didn't seem to be companies taking a very strong consumer position in that space. There were a lot of companies that were collecting your information and selling it to other companies, but not many saying, 'We're out here to protect consumer identities.' So we took that position deliberately but also approached it from the position of protection and promotion -- that there would be some information you want to protect and other information about yourself that you want to promote. We tried to think of Garlik as a brand that can span anything you want to do to look after your profile and your identity.
We also looked at what technology we can deploy to go on that journey. We took about six months and looked at a tremendous number of different technologies. We were asking ourselves, 'What will the world would look like in five years when it comes to data?' One thing we observed was the shift from a world of documents to one of data. You don't see that up close every day, but if you take a step back you can see all the data that's out there in different formats, like podcasts and video and underlying databases that are exposed. Just continue that trend another five years and you see the Web as a whole dominated by data and information in that form with a little rump of documents, where that rump is actually the whole Web as we know it today. So the documents don't disappear, but they become dominated by that Web of data, and most of the information we we're interested in is in that Web.
InfoWorld: How does Semantic Web technology help you with that problem?