NLG’s Role in Major Digital Transformation Trends
July 17, 2019 | Greg Williams

We enjoyed Daniel Newman’s recent contribution to Forbes, “Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends For 2020.” It’s a great read all around, but we are particularly in agreement about four of the trends Mr. Newman identifies as likely to catch fire in 2020, because in our world of Natural Language Generation we already see temperatures rising rapidly in these areas. Thematically speaking, these four categories have to do with the production of more data faster, and the corresponding necessity of analyzing the data, and explaining it in natural human language so that you don’t have to be a programmer or an analyst with infinite time on your hands to uncover actionable business insights. It is this necessity that Natural Language Generation perfectly addresses, and one of the reasons Gartner recently issued its first ever report on NLG as a standalone industry, identifying Arria as a “world leader” in the technology.

NLG intersects these four digital transformation trends that Mr. Newman identifies:

  1. “Analytics are the Competitive Advantage.” This is one of the reasons NLG is taking off. Modern systems and technologies are producing data in volumes that are economically impossible to analyze with headcount alone, but also economically perilous to ignore—especially if the competition is not ignoring it (and they’re not!). As we’ve argued, BI dashboards get you only halfway there. Dashboards are a step up from mere spreadsheets, but they still require interpretation. Further, even when correctly interpreted, two-dimensional visuals might be telling only part of the story. Arria’s NLG technology can analyze and explain the entirety of a dashboard’s underlying data in natural human language, written or spoken. With Arria working in parallel on dashboard output and the underlying data, business leaders no longer must depend upon analysts to hunt around for actionable business insights. They need only to read or listen to a report, or converse with the system.

  2. AI and Machine Learning as “force multipliers for data and analytics.” At Arria, we view NLG as a “productivity multiplier,” producing analysis in natural human language at previously unimaginable volume, so we are thinking along the same lines. We would add NLG as a specific requirement for most information producing AI and ML systems in order to help humans make sense of the data flowing to them with unprecedented speed. Only NLG can ensure parity between the pace of data discovery and the pace of analysis leading to the identification of actionable business insights.

  3. Robotic Process Automation. Gartner predicts that “by 2022, 85 percent of large and very large organizations will have deployed some form of RPA.” And it’s no wonder: RPA can transfer data into and among systems and machines instantly and with zero human error. However, in some RPA use cases, data is not communicated from machine to machine but exits the RPA system in volume for manual or BI dashboard analysis. When RPA output runs up against finite human analytical capacity, NLG can provide the interpretation. RPA and NLG are complementary technologies: NLG makes use of the data produced by RPA systems; RPA systems need NLG in order to be of maximum usefulness to businesses. Together they automate the creation of knowledge to achieve intelligent process automation. Already, Arria’s NLG technology is available on industry leader UiPath’s RPA platform, making it easy for UiPath Studio developers to add automated natural-language descriptions and reports to any workflow.

  4. Conversational AI. This is a timely one! Next week, at VOICE Summit 2019—sponsored by Amazon Alexa—Arria’s COO, Jay DeWalt, and Chief Scientist, Ehud Reiter, will present Arria’s NLG technology as the key to dynamic, multi-turn conversations with digital voice assistants. Session attendees will witness how advanced analytics using narratives in natural language can automate and enhance data consumption, as well as amplify the value of business intelligence with conversation. Session attendees will learn how businesses plan to implement conversational AI powered by dynamic NLG, and how these integrations extend the reach of voice AI platforms, such as Alexa for Business, to customize and streamline workflows in myriad use-cases.

NLG as a factor in digital transformations is young enough that Gartner’s first report on the technology came out only twenty days ago. In it, Gartner names Arria “a world leader in NLG.” We expect our technology to be the conversational and explanatory bridge between humans and structured data sets created by any means, and to play a central role in the four trends described above.

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