Welcome to the Third Wave of Analytics | Narrative Science

Blog Welcome to the Third Wave of Analytics

Let’s get a few things straight

Does Narrative Science believe in the power of stories? Absolutely. 

It’s why we exist as a company. We’ve spent the last decade studying the English language and how to create technology that teaches computers to write like humans.

Are we the only ones who think this? Of course not. 

There is an entire market for natural language technologies, a subset of artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

Do we subscribe to the concept of Radical Transparency? Another loaded question – of course we do. 

That doesn’t mean we are only open about sharing things within the company. Very often, we openly share things outside of the company too. Although, we are seeing the trend of many people being more open around sharing best practices. In regards to this paper, here are three things we want you to know:

  1. The purpose of this blog is to promote Gartner’s report, Augmented Analytics: Teaching Machines to Tell Data Stories to Humans. (Is that all you’re looking for? Get your copy with that link. Still not sure? Keep reading.)
  2. Narrative Science is one of the vendors named in this paper. We have a product that can automate the analysis and fundamentally change how analytics is done, specifically that is Lexio. It’s not an endorsement. But it is an opinion on a shortlist of options—an opinion that’s well worth considering.
  3. TL;DR: “By 2025, data stories will be the most widespread way of consuming analytics, and 75% of stories will be automatically generated using augmented analytics techniques.”

Why am I telling you this?

I’m betting if you’ve read this far, you’re going to download the full report anyway. And you should, because it’s worth the 11 minute read. 

But in the meantime, we read the full report (a few times). Here is a summary and some reactions.

As the author of the paper, James Richardson will give you four impacts and recommendations for Data and Analytics leaders. This includes my favorite piece: a description and comparison to the six basic story arcs by virtually all plots in any work of fiction. Seriously. A Cornell University study came to this conclusion in 2016. That’s worth the read alone as it’s arguably one of the most entertaining Gartner reports ever written.

There’s a lot to unpack here. But one last reaction from me: let’s breakdown three critical elements in the title.

First, what is “augmented analytics”? So says Gartner’s IT Glossary: “augmented analytics is the use of enabling technologies such as machine learning and AI to assist with data preparation, insight generation and insight explanation to augment how people explore and analyze data in analytics and BI platforms.” 

Second, “machines…to humans”. It’s subtle, but important. It’s not humans alone. It’s not machines replacing humans. It’s using machines to automate what humans used to do and humans using insights to make better decisions.

Finally, “data stories”. Stories—and good stories at that—have common elements. They are memorable, retold, and impactful. So data stories are a way for you to do that in your business. Richardson writes, “Data storytelling can help decision makers engage with data and analytics by delivering insights in compelling forms that are more readily consumed and easily assimilated than those commonly used, such as dashboards and reports.”

Here’s why we like the report

As you can probably tell, we really buy into the concept for all of the reasons mentioned above. But the excitement really boils down to one thing: the juxtaposition of the past and future as it relates to analytics. The past was marked by too few organizations having the skills to effectively scale data storytelling to everyone in the company. The future is marked by a potential Wave 4 of analytics. 

(Spoiler alert!) The conclusion hypothesizes that as we extrapolate the current trend in the third wave, it could be possible to automatically create data-driven stories utilizing wide-ranging datasets to address issues in our organizations. What’s not to like about data storytelling being the bookends of the past and future?

That’s why there is no time like the present to learn more about data storytelling. Request your copy of the full report below.

Get the report

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