Originally featured: Eckerson Group
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But in the era of big data, a paragraph from a natural language generation (NLG) tool might be worth a thousand pictures.
NLG tools automatically analyze data, interpret it, identify the most significant parts, and generate written reports in plain English. In essence, NLG brings artificial intelligence to business intelligence (BI), automating routine analysis, saving business users time and money.
Although BI products generate visualizations, reports, and dashboards, business users still have to analyze and interpret data. That’s where NLG comes in. It automatically performs the analysis and generates an English language translation of what is significant and meaningful in the data. Business users no longer have to study the data to interpret its meaning; NLG tools do that for them.
Moreover, NLG tools bypass the need to create visualizations, charts, and reports in the first place. The tools can sift through large volumes of data and generate reports automatically. This is particularly valuable in the age of big data where huge amounts of data can overwhelm business users and IT departments alike. With NLG tools, data analysts can spend 80% of their time analyzing data rather than 80% of their time preparing data. In other words, NLG tools augment the job of business users so they can focus more on high-value tasks and less on menial work.
Since NLG tools automate analysis and have human-like capabilities, some people worry that NLG and other artificial intelligence products will undermine job security. Although this is a legitimate concern, officials at all three companies I interviewed emphasize that NLG tools augment the job of business users, and don’t replace them. They say NLG tools allow business users to focus on higher value tasks. Although NLG tools generate written analysis, business users still have to read, understand, and act on the reports. Rather than replacing analysts, these tools allow for more analysis to happen more often.
Arria’s NLG Platform and Recount
Arria offers NLG Platform, which works with almost any data source or application. NLG Platform runs on the cloud or on-premises and works in any industry, including financial services, healthcare, and marketing. Soon, Arria will release two cloud versions of the product: an enterprise version called Articulator Pro and Articulator Lite geared to non-NLG programmers that will compete with Yseop Savvy.
Arria also sells Recount, an accounting solution that works with accounting software from Xero. Recount automatically generates reports that identify key trends and issues in their accounting data that they need to pay attention to. The tool helps small and medium-sized business owners focus on the business rather than administrative duties and bookkeeping.
According to Jeff Zie, CMXO and Head of Recount, “Xero is a fantastic accounting platform, but it doesn’t tell owners what’s going on and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Using Recount is like picking up a phone to a financial analyst and asking ‘what’s going on with my business?’”
So, What’s The Takeaway?
NLG tools automate analysis, taking the capabilities of BI tools to the next level. Rather than generate charts and tables, NLG tools interpret the data and generate analysis in written form that tells business users what’s significant to know. The tools perform routine analysis of predefined data sets, eliminating both the manual labor required to generate reports and the skilled labor required to analyze and interpret the results.
Although NLG vendors say their tools augment, not replace, jobs of report writers and analysts, in some cases, NLG tools will reduce the number of people required to generate and analyze data. For business owners, this is great news: they can reassign staff to other jobs, increase their productivity, or lay them off.
We expect a multitude of NLG solutions to hit the market in 2017. We also expect leading BI vendors to integrate NLG functionality into their products.
Above article is an excerpt from the original article.