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An Interview with Mats Bjore

Mats Bjore of Silobreaker

In my lectures for law enforcement and intelligence professionals, I include the Silobreaker online service. The company provides an agile information access system expressly designed for those who need to locate information on a range of subjects quickly. In addition to commercial and open source content, Silobreaker includes advanced functions such as entity identification, relationship maps among entities, geospatial data, and a sophisticated report generation feature.

I have monitored Silobreaker’s development from an idea to a thriving online service. I have interviewed him in June 2008. In my lectures, Silobreaker sparks considerable interest among those in my sessions. After my September 2013 presentations at Intelligence Support Systems, a conference organized by Telestrategies, I arranged to speak with Mr. Bjore.

The full text of my interview with him appears below:

Thanks for agreeing to meet me. Would you give me a bird’s-eye view of the background of Silobreaker?

I had registered the name Silobreaker in 2002. At that time, I was preparing for a large software project that never materialized.

When I was working in the Swedish business sector, I formulated a basic idea for an online information service.

What was that?

The work I had been doing as a consultant at a large firm involved gathering information within one or more organizations. I learned that in most of the organizations, information was locked in separate silos. The information in those silos was usually kept under close control by the silo manager.

My insight was that if software could make available to employees the information in different silos, the organization would reap an enormous gain in productivity.

So the idea was to “break” down the the information and knowledge silos that exists within companies, organizations and mindsets.

What’s your background?

For about 20 years, I worked in an intelligence agency and the later at McKinsey, the international management consultancy. In my work, I kept encountering the same pattern of behavior: Search for what you already know, share only if asked for, and stick to your academic knowledge.

I thought it that the key word search engines were not helpful for those engaged in work that demanded creative intelligence analytics, high speed learning and unlearning.

In some situations, the traditional keyword search was even, in my view, destructive for businesses doing due diligence or for professionals engaged in intelligence work. Key word search can narrows a user’s horizon.

And Silobreaker?

I was lucky because another large-scale intelligence project landed on my desk. That work made it possible for me to team up with a multi-disciplinary team and set up Silobreaker.

When was this?

It was in 2005. The Silobreaker team included professionals with deep experience in fields such as technology, financial services, military intelligence, and management consulting. We had comparable expertise in text-mining, information retrieval, data warehousing, business intelligence, and smart software. (Some people call this “artificial intelligence,” but I do not like the term.)

Was the diverse experience a help or hindrance?

Definitely a big plus. We clicked as a team. We came to realize that we shared a vision – that in a world of data proliferation or Big Data, access to basic data was no longer key.

What did your team conclude was important?

The major insight we had was that a professional has to make sense of data. This means a way to to filter and refine information, and to extract the meaning and insights from the data.

The Silobreaker system embodies that vision and those beliefs were. The sense making was and still is the drivers behind Silobreaker and what we do. So with a name like Silobreaker and with a shared vision we teamed up and built the software.

In a nutshell, what is Silobreaker?

That’s a good question. Today Silobreaker is an Internet and a technology company that offers products and services which aggregate, analyze, contextualize and bring meaning to the ever-increasing amount of digital information.

Who are Silobreaker’s customers?

Silobreaker’s products help many users from the corporate, government, military and financial services sectors around the world. Our customers represent a wide range of use-cases across competitive intelligence, incident management, government and military intelligence, threat intelligence, media-monitoring and risk analysis.

What’s your take on Big Data?

Big Data has always been around. Sometimes it feels that the industry is spending too much time and energy coining new buzzwords for established concepts.

Yes it’s true that the growth of information is on steroids. The data flows from digital cameras, smart devices, Web sites, Twitter, and sensors is a fact of modern life. But what people and organizations working with intelligence often forget is that focus is important. Knowing what the objective is can make a Big Data problem solvable.

What is a typical use case for your firm's content intelligence capabilities?

We have such a diverse set of clients in different industries so it’s hard to single out a typical use case. What many of our client projects have in common is an information-intensive component.

Our clients have learned that a key word centric approach is not appropriate for some mission critical work. We invest time in understanding the client’s problem and work processes.

Our engagements include what we call an “analyst loop.” But our approach is not for number crunchers. This Silobreaker process is relevant for any information worker. We then integrate the Silobreaker products into the real-life work environment.

One can find some similarities between our approach and that of the classical intelligence cycle but more interactive.

What are the benefits to a commercial organization or a government agency when working with your firm?

I would say that what sets us apart is not only the Silobreaker technology and our commitment to constant innovation. Silobreaker embodies the long term and active experience of having a team of users and developers who can understand the end user environment and challenges. Also, I want to emphasize that our technology is one integrated technology that combines access, content, and actionable outputs.

Can Silobreaker handle information developed inside an organization, third-party content, and open source information?


If a client uses our technology to handle the various company repositories it is an internal process, if you involve external content and mix and match. The licensee of our system has to work out licenses required by commercial publishers. Silobreaker can intake structured and unstructured information. We provide a line of connectors and software widgets to make content acquisition quick and easy. If a Silobreaker client requires support from our engineers, we can provide that upon request. Our team can customize Silobreaker to meet the needs of quite specific application as well.

What features does Silobreaker include to support functions like content "push", report generation, and personalization within a work flow?

Among many options for generating report we have a feature called My Page which is the customizable dashboards. The individual Silobreaker user can control displays.

We offer a visual trend service so users can see what’s trending and what’s being talked about. Silobreaker makes it possible to generate an report automatically and then distribute that output to individuals via email.

A Silobreaker output can be exported to other software; for example, a visualization toolkit or a PowerPoint presentation.

Licensees can tap the power of the Silobreaker dashboard in an unlimited number of ways. Dashboards can be shared workspaces. The dashboard and other Silobreaker functions are available to users of Silobreaker on mobile devices.

Silobreaker screenshots: Click on each image to view full size.


What's your take on the "new" method which some people describe as navigation?

We go well beyond the notion of a results list or a list of documents that may be of interest. Our approach is more operational. One of my colleagues compares a Silobreaker dashboard to the cockpit in a next-generation fighter aircraft. The fuel is the content; the pilot is the analyst that navigates all internal content and hardware, databases etc in the unstructured air or content that surrounds the airplane and navigate it to the target. In my view, you need to aim for a single interface that assists you to take all parameters into account without delay. In our client installations this is a standard household item.

What can customers expect in the next three to nine months?

Our current and near future development is focusing on enhancing the various platforms in new types of visualization. We are working to enhance the analytical tools so both unstructured (Discovery Phase) and creating structure (Analysis Phase) are optimized for today’s decision environment. Our engineers are working on content enrichment. Think in terms of high-value metadata that provides context for specific events or actions.

Put on your wizard hat. What are the three most significant technologies that you see affecting your content processing system?

We talk about the future direction of next generation information systems on a daily basis. Nevertheless, this is a very difficult question.

From a high level, I think more effort has to be invested in solutions for those that have a need or a task to understand why the needle is in the Haystack and who put it there and when.

Also, I would say that mobile devices will continue to proliferate. We also see that the emergence of other connected wearable devices and sensors will contribute the information growth to but also fragmentation of personal content repositories.

However, the concept of “out of sync” is already a problem for individuals and companies.

This is a new challenge for findability and contextual relevance.

Where can a reader get more information about Silobreaker?

I would suggest that a visit to both and will provide additional information, links for a demonstration, and our contact information.

ArnoldIT Comment

Silobreaker has enhanced its system rapidly. The system has become a must-have tool for intelligence professionals working in government entities and commercial enterprises. The Silobreaker approach allows a person working in a time-compressed environment to size up, identify, and obtain the information needed. The system's "smart software" shows that Silobreaker's learning and unlearning function is part of the next generation of information tools.

Exploring information via the Silobreaker environment makes clear the inadequacy of a traditional list of “hits” in a laundry list format. Silobreaker is well suited to assist a decision maker who needs on point information without waiting for a specialist to interact with an old-style system. Five years ago, Mats Bjore told me, "Silobreaker works like one of our dogs. Their eyes see what is in front of you, the ears hears the tone of voice, the nose smells what has happened, what is now and what's around the corner." For information access, the Silobreaker system is a blue-ribbon winner. Take a close look at this extraordinarily good system here.

Stephen E Arnold, November 25, 2013

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