Talis sells off library software business to focus on semantic web

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Talis, a UK-based supplier of information management software and services, has sold its legacy library management business to services giant Capita.

For most of its 40-year history, the library management business has been Talis’ main source of revenue, serving customers such as public authorities and higher educational establishments. In the last decade, however, it decided to pursue semantic web technology, in which online data and documents are ‘marked up’ with metadata describing their content and meaning.

In 2007, it launched the Talis Platform, a web-based data repository that allows customers mark up their content using the Resource Description Framework (RDF) standard.

The Talis Platform is used by the BBC, and forms the basis of the UK government’s open data site, data.gov.uk, a project the company itself has been heavily involved in. Last year, Talis’ chief technology officer Ian Davis told Information Age that the company was seeing “really strong growth in terms of uptake” of the platform.

The sale of the legacy business gives Talis a cash boost to invest in its semantic web business, Dr Paul Miller, a former employee of the company and now an independent consultant, told Information Age this morning. It might use the money to attract new talent or acquire technology, he speculated.

Capita has agreed to pay £18.5 million for Talis’s library management division, Talis Information Limited, plus a further £2.5 million depending on the company’s profitability in the coming financial year.

Talis has yet to respond to Information Age‘s request for comment.

After many years of being a mainly academic pursuit, there are signs that semantic web technology is at last finding business applications. Last month, expense managment software vendor Concur acquired TripIt, a company that uses semantic technology to analyse airline confirmation emails to compile travel itineraries automatically.

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