Have you ever tried to use business intelligence tools to explore a new data set and had no idea where to start? Have you tried to explain a business intelligence visualization and weren’t sure what to say?
“Augmented analytics” is the new term, coined by Gartner, to describe the helpers that are increasingly built into applications like business intelligence tools. Gartner notes that these enabling technologies “assist with data preparation, insight generation and insight explanation to augment how people explore and analyze data in analytics and BI platforms.”
“Computer. Computer?” Star Trek predicts the future, again.
In Star Trek, Captain Kirk and other characters “talk” to the ship computer, and this computer finds useful information and communicates the results for people. The point is that the ultimate usability is being human.
Consider this example: when asked, “Is the grocery store still open?”, I perform a “query” to get my ambient understanding of the current time of day, then check my long-term memory to estimate the hours of typical grocery stores. I may then think about which stores are nearby, and recall a specific closing time associated with a memory when I got to the store too late. All of this “analysis” is done effortlessly, in the stream of my experience, without “thinking” explicitly about the steps.
This natural communication is the ultimate goal of augmented analytics. The “augmentation” is the adding of more human-like understanding in business intelligence. Business intelligence tools like TIBCO Spotfire and Microsoft Power BI have added augmented analytics to their offerings.
Here are some ways that you see augmented analytics in business intelligence today.
Getting started—augmented analytics in business intelligence provides a better starting point.
Certain data, like latitude and longitude coordinates, appear in data in very consistent formats. So too with zip codes, phone numbers, email addresses, and many other types of data. Increasingly, there business intelligence tools automatically “guess” these formats and automatically configure these data fields to have the right format and to have the right metadata for more specialized analysis. If you know that a filed contains physical addresses, chances are you will want to see them on a map.
Tell me what I need to know—business intelligence gets proactive with insights.
Experienced analysts use the same techniques over and over again. Just loading a new data set? Which fields are categorical and which fields are numeric? In business intelligence, we automatically split them into dimensions and measures. We “slice” with the dimensions and “dice” or count, sum, or otherwise aggregate these numbers.
Why not go do the next step? Interesting findings follow patterns like a high degree of correlation or outliers. Business intelligence tools automatically produce visualizations or “insight cards” to automatically suggest important findings proactively.
The words to say it—business intelligence tools are getting wordy.
Natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) are coming of age. When we think of language, we often think about how difficult it is to learn a new language and how automatic it is to speak our own native tongue. It seems that language is highly variable.
Linguistics has taught us that languages have shared patterns. Business intelligence, traditionally associated with structured data, is using unstructured text more and more. One of the more exciting advances is in saving you time in explaining a business intelligence visualization. Instead of giving you a chart, it also generates readable text that explains the relationship shown. You can also use language to “search” for visualizations that aren’t “built” yet. “How many grocery stores are near me?” There’s an answer for that.
The value of business intelligence and the capabilities in business intelligence tools are more exciting than ever. Need help in guiding your business? Syntelli Solutions has business intelligence experts who know the latest and greatest advances in BI. Contact us to learn more.