Peter Haase is CEO of SEMANTiCS 2019 Gold Sponsor metaphacts. He has a long history in the Semantic Web community, his first contacts with semantic technologies dating back 20 years. In 2006, Peter obtained his PhD from the University of Karlsruhe (now KIT). In 2014, Peter founded metaphacts, focusing on enterprise knowledge graphs. In this interview Peter talks about his career and fascinating experiences as well as about metaphacts’ mission to make knowledge graphs a technology available for everyone.
Peter, you are a veteran in the Semantic Web and Linked Data Community. Please share your story with us: How did you get started, what were the greatest milestones of your career to date and what is it that still fascinates you in the area between academia and industry.
Indeed, I have been active in the Semantic Web community for twenty years by now. I had my first encounters with RDF and ontologies as a student, working on first mobile digital assistants. I spent a few years at IBM where I had the chance to work on a project to productize results from IBM Research in the DB2 database system. I then went back to university and joined the group of Rudi Studer at the University of Karlsruhe, who had one of the first research groups in the area of Semantic Web. I founded metaphacts in 2014. At the time, there was an increasing interest from industry in semantic technologies - specifically knowledge graphs were on the horizon. I saw a lot of opportunities, and I thought I could best pursue them with my own company.
In the meantime, metaphacts has grown. We have also acquired two other semantic technology startups, and with them more talented people joined. The main constraint, or challenge, always has been to grow the team with the right people. We have an excellent team that I am really proud of, and I hope that we are able to grow further with excellence.
metaphacts’ reputation goes beyond just working with Knowledge Graphs – you are known for lowering the entry barriers and making the technology accessible to non-experts. How do you do that?
For a long time, semantic technologies, in particular the standards of the Semantic Web language stack, have been perceived as complex, with a high entry barrier for adoption. With our metaphactory platform, we aim at making the power of these technologies available to end-users and hide the underlying complexity by providing the right abstraction layers in end-user oriented frontends. For example, we have search interfaces that enable end users to visually construct rich, structured queries without having to know SPARQL. Similarly, we provide means for authoring rich graph structures through end-user oriented form-based or visual interfaces.
metaphactory is your end-to-end-platform. What does end-to-end mean in this context, why is this relevant (compared to your competition)?
It means that we support the entire lifecycle from creating knowledge graphs, managing and maintaining knowledge assets to the development of end-user oriented applications. With that, metaphactory serves various target groups - expert users, developers, and end users. Domain experts are involved in the knowledge graph creation, while developers can easily build apps customized for their own domain and target group. End users enjoy our user-friendly interfaces and can interact with the knowledge graph.
Your Talk is about “Creating value from data with knowledge graphs” – please give us more details. What will we hear? Which Use-Cases will you talk about during your talk? What can we learn during the session?
In our talk, we give an overview of how enterprises use Knowledge Graphs to gain insights in their own data, but also how external data sources and even live sensor data are made part of the Knowledge Graph. The typical setup and architecture will be presented, and you can learn from industry blueprints how metaphactory is used in verticals such as engineering and manufacturing, life-science and cultural heritage for search and exploration for use cases in customer service and research. The talk will be given by Daniel Herzig, our COO, who leads the rollout of Knowledge Graph applications at several of our large industry customers.
We also heard that you will be sponsoring drinks at the conference dinner. Thank you for this and cheers! As drinks are always a good opportunity for stories: What was the most fascinating project metaphacts implemented and why?
Personally, I find the projects most fascinating where I can learn something new. With many projects I had the chance to get involved in creating knowledge graphs for interesting domains such as chemistry, biology, history, arts – a great way to learn about these areas. Through our partnership with Blazegraph we contributed to the original development of the Wikidata Query Service. That really got me excited – Wikidata is such a great resource of structured knowledge, which we heavily use as a showcase for the metaphactory to demonstrate the potential of knowledge graphs.
SEMANTiCS is all about networking, exchange and learning from each other. What do you aim to get out of this year’s event and where is a good opportunity for an on-site chat with you?
Exactly, a conference like this is a great opportunity for getting back in touch with friends and former colleagues, for meeting new people with an interest in semantics, and to learn about the latest cool stuff in the presentations. We have a booth at the conference, that’s likely the best opportunity for an on-site chat. And of course, at the social events ;-)
The annual SEMANTiCS conference is the meeting place for professionals who make semantic computing work, and understand its benefits and know its limitations. Every year, SEMANTiCS attracts information managers, IT-architects, software engineers, and researchers, from organisations ranging from NPOs, universities, public administrations to the largest companies in the world. http://www.semantics.cc