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January 23, 2019

Natural Language Generation and the Balance Between Customization and Scale

By: Dan Platt

While Natural Language Generation (NLG) can solve a variety of problems in the enterprise, it is important to recognize that NLG should not be viewed as a single magic bullet to help solve any problem your company may have. Businesses have many problems where NLG can be a whole solution or part of a solution. You may want to scale up standardized reporting, or you may want to shrink the time to insight of the datasets your team is staring at on a daily basis either in spreadsheets, software as a service (SaaS) data tools or modern business intelligence (BI) dashboards.

In any of these cases, it is critical to realize that not all NLG solutions are the same. Let’s start with the problem of comprehensive reporting. In this case, producing reports is a time-consuming task that requires very specific language and data analysis. Narrative Science’s Quill is optimized for scenarios like this.

If you currently hand write reports for compliance or any other reason, but you cannot achieve the scale you need for complete coverage, Quill can help you. These stories are very valuable, and consistency and standardization are of the utmost importance. Quill understands this and can help you achieve your desired scale of these reports.

Conversely, you may want all of your employees to immediately have access to key insights in an accessible way. You may have a team that has access to datasets or dashboards, but gaining insight still takes too long. In this case, our Quill Extensions can produce insightful stories embedded within your data tools of choice. Here, you are not doing standardized reporting but rather using stories to shrink your time to insight of traditional data products.

And finally, we recognize that most people are not naturally comfortable with data.  Sure, we are all expected to be data-driven and in general, may be more comfortable than they used to be, but let’s face it — we’re not all data scientists. That’s why we built Lexio.  Lexio is an AI product that turns business data into plain-English stories, giving your employees the context and knowledge they need to make better decisions faster. Lexio automatically analyzes your data, surfaces relevant information, and writes a personalized story that anyone on your team can understand.

The point of talking through these examples is to show that NLG should not be viewed as a single solution to all of your data problems. You wouldn’t walk onto a construction site with just a hammer and hope it would tighten screws or cut wood, would you? Narrative Science’s suite of data storytelling products can give you the right tool for any particular job. Whether you need to scale up your standardized reporting or allow your team to get insights from data on demand, Narrative Science has the solution for you.

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