March 22nd, 2022
How can AI enhance decision-making with automated reports?
Companies looking to auto-write reports; such as sales reports, marketing analyses, website performance evaluations and the like, from their in-house data, will be able to best navigate their options with a seasoned AI expert at their side. These days, you’ll find scores of artificial intelligence solutions designed to auto-mine your company database to produce in-depth, analytical reports.
Through simplified texts, these analyses will enable your lead executives to make critical company decisions with greater insight and oftentimes at lightning speed. With an AI expert at your side, you’ll save a significant amount of time and money searching for an off-the-shelf solution that’s right for your business. Moreover, an AI specialist will have the expertise to recommend — in certain situations — the best course of action when creating an in-house solution perfectly tailored to your business needs.
How it All Started
Automated company report writing traces its roots to the auto-generation of sports, finance, real estate, weather and similar data-intensive news — which media outlets have been churning out for more than a decade. Many of the same AI companies that helped those news outlets automate story production are now working with businesses to auto-generate reports from their databases. And most of them are using the same tried-and-true technology that gave them their start in the news industry.
Not surprisingly, the proprietary computer code underpinning these solutions is based on Natural Language Generation (NLG), which varies from AI company to AI company. However, most report automation solutions share a core reliance on a ‘report template’. This is a skeleton template that is continually refreshed with new data and insights as the company’s database is updated. Proper selection of reports and analysis types are key in understanding your specific automated reporting needs.
How Does it Work?
The easiest way to understand what’s going on under the hood of an AI-powered report company is to recall the old ‘Mad Libs’ game you probably played in grammar school. Back in those days, Mad Libs furnished you with the template of a story — say how the sausage is made. You asked your friends for random nouns, verbs and adjectives to scribble into the blanks of the Mad Libs story template. And then everyone giggled at the resulting silly tale.
AI-powered company reporting works on the same principle — drilling down into your company database for numbers and other info to continually understand the reporting needs from models trained in reports, info, insights and more. But the primary difference between Mad Libs style variable filling and AI report writing is that AI can generate the story along with the analyses based on the data and context it has at hand. The analyzed data filling each variable, for example, could include totals of sales figures, comparisons of cities where your sales were the strongest, forecasts of where your company’s sales are heading and similar.
While the increased speed and efficiency of this kind of automated report writing are easy to appreciate, there’s another major reason why so many companies are migrating to template-driven reports: The insights in those AI reports are presented in easy-to-understand text rather than in abstract charts or graphs. The switch to written analysis has been a boon to the legions of workers who find business charts, graphs and illustrations difficult to comprehend — but who can easily understand a text sentence such as, “Sales for our Pacific region were up 37% year-over-year, triggered primarily by sales gains of 42% in San Francisco, 35% in Los Angeles and 33% in San Diego.” Of course, illustrations can still have a significant place in reports auto-generated by NLG. But those graphics serve more as a re-verification of a business report’s insights, rather than something to be noodled over.
Another major reason so many businesses are opting for automated company reporting powered by story templates is that the method offers extreme precision in the calculations, analysis and writing that appear in those reports, not to mention the powerful contextualization abilities it has.
AI Power Reporting, a Contender
These auto-writers continue to stun the computer science world and beyond with their ability to reliably auto-generate short ads, emails, product descriptions, social media posts and similar short copy — in just a few seconds. But the problem with such auto-writers is that due to their heavy reliance on guessing i.e., predictive statistics, they often guess wrong at what you’re looking for, producing copy that needs to be edited for accuracy and clarity. However, with template-driven AI writing, you’ll never face that problem.