A brief talk with John Walker

June 19, 2017

John Walker is co-founder and director of gold sponsor Semaku. Semaku was founded in 2013 and offers services in structured and integrated information management leveraging semantic technologies. Encompassing content management, product information management and product lifecycle management, Semaku helps clients to streamline and implement the big picture with a unified approach.

Can you tell something about your work/research focus?

Our focus is to bring the benefits of linked data and graph technologies to the enterprise. We work with clients in multiple domains from government and public organizations, through to high-tech multinationals.

Although the details differ, the high-level problem remains the same: making sense of data coming from multiple sources and the ability to flexibly integrate the data in a meaningful way and rapidly provision services using that data. This is where linked data provides a real advantage over traditional approaches.

The main application areas where we see quick wins are in reference and master data. More recently we are also applying our approach to more 'real-time' sources for manufacturing and supply-chain to drive quality analysis.

Which trends and challenges you see for linked data/semantic web and why are they important for Semaku?

An obvious current trend is the description and validation of the structure of RDF graphs demonstrated by emerging standards such as SHACL and ShEx. This is a welcome addition to the family of standards and, for example, should make it far easier for developers to understand what data to expect when developing applications.

Looking further ahead there is the interesting crossover of applying AI/ML techniques to knowledge graphs which will open a plethora of opportunities.

The biggest challenge we see is getting the 'mindspace' with people when there are many other established and emerging technologies to contend with. Organizations can get tunnel vision and not be open to new ideas, or just be overwhelmed by the sheer variety and number of options. Therefore, having a sharp story to tell and the killer use case is crucial to have people sit up and listen.

What are your expectations about Semantics 2017 in Amsterdam, what makes it special for Semaku as a company?

I'm expecting to meet lots of people, share ideas and get inspired. What makes Semantics stand out is the 'Goldilocks' mix of enterprise and academia. This year will be extra special for us as we are on home turf.