Why are major BI vendors adopting Natural Language technology? Why are Natural Language BI startups gathering so much attention and investment? The answer is simple: Natural Language is the future of BI. It has gone beyond being a cool extra feature to be the perfect solution for three critical issues on the BI industry: unstructured data, user adoption and mobile.
The only solution for unstructured data
According to Gartner about 80% of a company’s information assets is unstructured data. Normally it is text-heavy information, like and email or a word processor document but video, images and audio files are also examples of unstructured information.
Until now business intelligence vendors have been focused on technologies and approaches for accessing, analyzing and storing structured data. As companies add new data sources like social media, vendors need to rush to come up with solutions to analyze that data.
Search engines are very flexible in handling any format of information, be it structured or unstructured. Natural Language can find patterns in, or interpret, unstructured information, allowing companies to gather and analyze both structured and unstructured data. This will enable organizations to take customer experience personalization to the next level and exploit new opportunities for growth and innovation.
Democratizing access to data
If your concept of business intelligence is having a data scientist producing reports and creating dashboards you are thinking small.
The main advantage of Natural Language BI is that it doesn’t require IT skills or long training sessions for users to start exploring data. With interfaces similar to “Google”, users know instinctively what to do.
This will democratize access to data, as users no longer will have to understand the peculiarities of the software or depend on the IT department to present reports, they can simply ask questions.
Imagine a sales rep on their way to meet a client and being able to ask “Client X orders in the last six months” or decision makers during meetings being able to deeply explore their data “Orders by product by region”.
It gives users independence from IT departments and the power to endlessly explore their data, increasing the volume of data analyzed and decreasing the waiting time for business answers.
Built from scratch for Mobile
Most BI vendors offer a mobile version. However it tends to be limited, allowing users only to check dashboards previously created on desktop and merely an adoption to smartphones and tablets of their drag-and-drop interfaces.
The truth is that we don’t often see language as a user interface, but that’s exactly what it is. Natural Language BI offers text and voice search, the kind of interaction that users are used to have with smartphones. In a Google report regarding use of the voice search in smartphone, 41% of adults stated they use voice search every day.
Natural Language increases BI accessibility not only in smartphones but very soon it will adapt to wearables, car computers and other devices following the Internet of Things trend. A successfully deployed mobile BI increases adoption rate to 42%.
The future of BI is Natural Language
Natural language is finding its way into business intelligence, offering new and diverse data sources, simplified user interfaces and democratizing access to data.
Some BI vendors like Wizdee already include voice commands for their interfaces and are able to process spoken and text queries. The ultimate goal is creating “personal analytics assistants” that can keep a dialogue and understand user context.
The future is promising and we just can’t wait to see how natural language technology will shape the user experience of Business Intelligence.