Introducing Project ICICLE from the Narrative Science Incubator.
In my last post, I talked about one of my favorite parts of my job at Narrative Science: leading our Incubation team. I walked through why we created an Incubation team and how our tireless focus on innovation at Narrative Science made the team possible.
In that blog post, I also promised a sneak peek into our newest project. Instead, I’m going to take it a step further. It’s not just a sneak peek—keep reading (and watching!), and you’ll get to experience the entirety of our newest and most exciting incubator project.
Introducing Project Icicle
In our incubator, we think big and move quickly. With only a few permanent team members and a rotating engineer, we are able to create a new innovation project every single quarter. Each quarter, we survey our entire company for ideas on what we should build next, and then vote on the ideas.
Every single incubation project has been the brainchild of someone at Narrative Science—and the ideas come from everywhere. We get ideas from sales, marketing, engineering, finance— basically everyone else you can think of. At a company like Narrative Science, you don’t have to look hard to find folks with innovative ideas.
Our criteria is simple. It has to be innovative (something we haven’t built or aren’t currently building), and it has to provide value to our users. We are in the midst of launching our newest product Lexio, so we knew that we wanted to create something that would change the way our Lexio users worked in their day-to-day.
Data Isn’t About Analysis, It’s About Action
Our mission at Narrative Science has always been to help everyone understand and act on data. As we were thinking about data analytics tools today, we knew that they were built to help users explore their data, and then maybe understand it. We wanted to not only help our users actually understand their data but take action on it, too.
That’s why we look at data in the first place, right? So we learn something new, make a better decision than we could have without the information, and take swift action on it.
Lexio takes your business data and automatically turns it into stories. Our Lexio Sales Application connects directly to Salesforce and writes stories about your sales data. That got us thinking—what action do people want to take after reading these stories? We had already built out the capability to send stories via email and were in the midst of building out commenting functionality. But how could we push the envelope even further?
We were (and still are) extremely passionate about helping people take action, so we moved faster than ever before. We ended up building out three different ways for people to take action, and you can see them all in action below.
Action 1: Ask Questions, Check the Data Source
In the Lexio Sales Application, we write stories about your Salesforce data. But what if something looks off? What if it shows a number you didn’t expect? Using Project ICICLE, you can converse between two team members using Lexio, and then automatically run a report in Salesforce to help answer your questions. Watch the video above to see the entire workflow.
Action 2: Ask Questions, Get Answers From Lexio
As I mentioned before, we have already built out commenting functionality in Lexio. Our users most commonly use this feature to ask each other questions. That got us thinking—what if Lexio answered those questions? As you can see in the video above, we took a completely new approach to conversational artificial intelligence (AI). Lexio chimes in when it knows an answer but stays silent when it doesn’t. Watch the video above to hear why we think this is a much better approach than other question-and-answer conversational interfaces that you see in the market today.
Action 3: Get Answers, Push to Slack
Lastly, we know the effect that data transparency can have on a company. If everyone is actually looking at the data in a way they can truly understand, it makes a huge difference in company culture. That made us wonder—how can we help people celebrate their successes? Using Project ICICLE, Lexio users can push parts of their Lexio stories into Slack so that everyone can see the success of the team. Watch the video above to see our Slack integration in action.
And there you have it—we’ve built out three different ways to help our users take action based on the stories in Lexio. Once we saw these prototypes working, we knew we wanted to get them to users as quickly as possible. If you are a Lexio user, you’ll see these in the product within the coming months. If you aren’t, well, these are a pretty great reason to give the product a try.
One last thing—you may be wondering about the project name. You aren’t the only one! We affectionately call our Lexio reader interface “ICE”, which stands for Interactive Consumer Experience. Because we have a long history of tortured acronyms here at Narrative Science, we named this Project ICICLE: Interactive Consumer experience with Integrations, Conversations, coLlaboration, and Extensions
Sign up below to try out Lexio, and stay tuned to hear about more exciting projects (with even more fun names) from our Incubation team.