Semantic Paths in Business Filings Analysis
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Supporting competitive business analysis of financial reports through the automated analysis and interpretation of their natural language sections, presents specific challenges including information that can be ambiguous, camouflaged, or tacitly hidden within the narrative. These sections present terminology and structural challenges for information extraction that require the application of linguistic and heuristic based domain modelling to identify the information requirement. This thesis investigates a modelling approach that incrementally builds the business analysts information requirement as a series of Semantic Paths grounded in domain linguistic and user heuristics. A Competitive Analysis Ontology (CAO) is defined to provide semantic representation of the information requirement necessary to drive linguistic analysis and information extraction. The evaluation of the CAO within the financial sub-domain of competitive analysis is investigated, through the development of the Analyst Work Bench (AWB), is presented. The AWB linguistically analyses a Form 10-Q's disclosure sections, automatically populates the CAO and provides the analyst's information requirement. The AWB leverages the CAO Semantic Paths for information search and extraction capability, to support an analyst perform a competitive analysis, with reduced manual effort. Evaluation based on design-science principles, use methods from information retrieval and information system success to determine CAO performance and usability. A controlled experiment that compares competitive analysis performance using the AWB, against its manual performed equivalent, reported a 37% performance increase using the AWB to identify relevant information. Usability evaluation further found that CAO use contributed to task structuring, and structured information provision in a manner that directly supported task performance.