CEO Blog: Cognitive Computing, Natural Language & AI: Game Changers

Most analysts agree that the next big thing in IT involves Natural Language Processing (NLP), semantic search. It’s a big thing because it will allow non-subject matter experts obtain answers to questions using only natural language to pose their queries.

According to Gartner:

Natural-language query (NLQ) is becoming an important feature across categories to make it easy for users to find content and build queries… [it] will dramatically change human-computer interaction.

Did you catch that? The reason Natural Language technologies matter is because anyone interacting with applications that embrace them will be able to ask questions in normal spoken English (or any other language) and get answers.

Check out this video for a funny, but sobering view of how people use voice to interact with computers:


and this one:


A deep understanding of what the data actually means, provides the Cognitive in Cognitive Computing. Without it, there’s no real understanding.

Next question? What types of applications are we talking about? Business Intelligence (BI), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and eCommerce, to name a few.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

Business Intelligence – We are all familiar with BI solutions that generally do the same thing. They push dashboards at you every morning. The data is fresh, sure, but what if you need to ask a question of that data? You go to IT, request a report, and wait a few days (praying that it’s the right report) – just like your parents did when they were using Cognos on the mainframe in 1969. Is there any UX for doing this, seamlessly? Nope.

Customer Relationship Management – Initially designed for Sales Force Automation, The ability to track activities for leads, prospects and customers is the cornerstone of a CRM system. There’s a lot of data that gets entered into CRM but is there an easy way for a road warrior sales rep to ask detailed, pertinent questions, alá Siri, on their Smartphone and get answers? Nope. Other than reports that management finds interesting, what does the CRM system do to make that field sales rep more efficient and help drive more revenue?

Because of the technologies behind Natural Language and Cognitive Computing, there has been a tectonic shift in the way people communicate with computers. A shift in the way we can ask questions and get answers. That shift enables two things. First, it enables users to ask a computer questions the same way they’d ask an associate, or co-worker. Second, it enables the computer to actually answer the question. That’s the game changer. The difference is a robust Natural Language Linguistic Engine.

Let’s go back to the examples above for a reexamination of our questions. For BI, what if there was an app that looked beyond the dashboards into the data to answer ah-hoc questions? Instead of waiting days for a report to be generated, you could have it on the fly – right at your fingertips. For CRM, what if that road warrior could ask and answer questions about the current status across prospects in a specific region to deduce where his/her time would be best spent?

Gartner and Forrester see the shift happening. In Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Report for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms; strategic planning assumptions incorporate the use of natural language. It may sound like a pipe dream now, but this is the future.

EasyAsk has been telling our prospects and customers that this is the key differentiator between our competitors and us. We have (and have always had) a Natural Language search engine at our core. While others claim to have one, the reality is that they do not. We have been on the leading edge in the use of natural language for years – everyone else is playing catch-up.

EasyAsk has been a leader in providing natural language processing for B2B and B2C eCommerce for decades. Taking advantage of NLP for search and merchandising enables eCommerce professionals to quickly and easily create a searchable catalog, thus enabling shoppers to find what they want the first time on the first page. This leads to higher conversion, more sales, delighted customers and, of course, higher revenues.

Providing a deep understanding of the data that you’re trying to access provides tremendous benefit. The ability to seamlessly ask questions and get answers is a giant leap forward. Whether it’s driving more revenue through Mobile Voice search, or connecting with Business Intelligence data to provide a Siri-like UX, EasyAsk provides the foundation that Mobile users need. Changing the Game.


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