Automated Insights uses natural language generation to prove all that money spent on BI wasn’t wasted

Automated Insights Wordsmith
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It may have started out as a site offering Moneyball-style analytics for the college basketball crowd, but a firm called Automated Insights could become better known for using natural language generation as a way for enterprises to finally see greater value from business intelligence and data warehouse projects.

Founded by a Cisco distinguished engineer and launched in 2007 as StatsSheet, Automated Insights recently launched new extensions between its core offering, Wordsmith, and well-known applications in the BI space such as Tableau. It has also added a new chief revenue officer earlier this year and was recently recognized by Gartner Inc. for its work in natural language generation, or NLG.

According to Adam Long, Automated Insights’ vice-president of product, NLG differs from another flavor of artificial intelligence B2B execs may know, natural natural language processing (NLP). When someone asks a question of a virtual assistant like Apple’s Siri, for instance, NLP breaks down a sentence like “What’s weather in Chicago?” into parts to look up the meaning of Chicago, a concept like weather and so on. NLG, on the other hand, might be better understood as the process by which such tools take the information they gather and turns them into a sentence that’s provided as an answer.

“Alexa is a pretty good metaphor for this,” Long told B2B News Network, referring to Amazon’s voice-based technology.  “Think of us more as a way to create that response in a lot of different applications, whether it’s e-mailing a customer about their data, or building a chatbot.”

Automated Insights sees opportunity among BI and data warehousing users because, despite the fact those tools might have analyzed data well, they don’t necessarily address the needs for business professionals to learn what to do with the analysis.

“The people trying to consumer this data are very busy and they don’t have time to parse through a dozen charts to find the one nugget that’s going to change their actions today,” Long said. “Dashboards have become sub-optimal for that audience.”

Line of business users, meanwhile, may not be literate in the data and metrics such tools talk about, he added. Wordsmith can act as a front-end for such applications to drive better engagement with BI by producing a text-based narrative of what the data means.

Long gave an example of how a company could use Wordsmith to determine why under-performing sales rep was struggling. NLG could help prescribe an action in simple terms, such as encouraging them to spend more time prospecting if it turns out they’re actually good at closing deals once they’re in front a customer.

In some cases Automated Insights — which also integrates with Microstrategy and TIBCO, among others — will go to market jointly with the major BI players. In other cases it might mean approaching customers directly. Either way, Long said the value proposition is the same.

“Companies have collected data and we all want to be data-driven, but the reality is people aren’t making use of the data in an optimal way,” he said. “It comes down to, are businesses making better decisions?”

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.