News broke today that HP, the world’s biggest manufacturer of personal computers, is in talks to buy British software company Autonomy.
While the latter is hardly a household name, it earns close to $1 billion each year from software that can turn huge volumes of images, text and video into useful statistics and insights for businesses.
Acquiring that technology will enable HP to expand its business software products, and put it in a good position to exploit a trend dubbed “big data”. Businesses are increasingly interested in finding ways to distill meaning from the growing piles of digital informaton—from Tweets to video—flowing through our lives at work and at home. Whit Andrews, a VP and analyst with Gartner specialising in technology that processes and organises information, says that Autonomy was years ahead of other companies in making such analysis possible. “They have had this vision for over a decade that there was immense value in being able to do statistical analysis for data like audio and video that conventional technology cannot handle.”