Big data for humans


Nearly every company is getting more data about customers, sales and interactions than it can quickly put to good use.  One fascinating solution is the development of artificial intelligence platforms that can extract insight from large datasets and communicate those insights in narrative form.narrativescience

For several years I’ve been following Narrative Science, a company that has pioneered an algorithmic approach to turning datasets into clearly-written, useful content designed for humans to read and understand. While their early efforts focused on taking  high school sports scores from thousands of games and turning them into instant articles indistinguishable from a local reporter’s efforts, their new Quill product is focused on business intelligence.

So why does this matter?  Think about the parts of your business that generate data; web analytics, ad ops, ecommerce, sales or customer service for example. How many of these generate (either manually or automatically) regular spreadsheets or charts for senior management to review? How often do these reports result in deep thinking about opportunities hidden in the data? Almost never. Unless the person assembling the reports is very good, their “insights” are unlikely to be very penetrating, and are therefore routinely ignored.

We already know that software can analyze and find useful connections and outliers in data far faster than people can. When software can also communicate those insights in clearly-written, logically presented prose, big data becomes a lot more interesting to mere humans.

Think how valuable it would be to deliver concise, insightful campaign summaries and recommendations every week to each of your advertisers, without hiring more people. How about a data product that delivers far more than just…data? Financial services and marketing automation companies are beginning to use tools like this, but the potential for competitive advantage is there for a great many companies. Do you have data that could be turned into a business-transforming product?

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