As organisations continue to use an increasing amount of ‘big data’, industries across the globe must identify the best way to capture, process and understand this information. Although computers and machines can produce and store a huge quantity of digital data, the volumes of information are increasing so quickly that it’s impossible for human beings to make full use of the data available.

A computer generated face outline made out of ones and zeroes

One of the main challenges of data management is that once a data set is generated by a system, an expert within the organisation is still required to analyse the data and explain the results. Illustrative and numerical reports are useful methods of interpreting sets of data, as well as written reports that use simple words and plain English, but both visual and written summaries can be very time-consuming to produce.

Natural Language Generation technology

As a solution to these challenges, Professor Ehud Reiter and Dr Yaji Sripada, from the University of Aberdeen, joined forces with entrepreneurs Ian Davy and John Perry to found the spin-out company, Data2Text, in order to further develop their ideas and research around Natural Language Generation (NLG) technology.

A form of artificial intelligence, NLG technology can make it quicker and easier for organisations to read and understand large amounts of data, by converting complex information into simple, summarised text. The written narratives are produced in a matter of seconds and are designed to be read as if they were written by a human subject expert.

Commercialising research

As a result of many years of research and development, the company was acquired in 2013 by commercialisation specialist, Arria, to become Arria NLG. A pioneer in the science of natural language generation, Professor Reiter said: “Our goal was to build ‘articulate machines’ which communicate with people in the same way that other people do. We combine artificial intelligence technology, which analyses the data and identifies the most important information, with computational linguistics technology to transform the key information into sentences.”

Since the acquisition, Arria NLG has developed a number of core patented technologies and tools, with the Arria NLG Engine the world’s most advanced natural language generation engine. The technology has also been used in a number of major industries, including financial services, life sciences, healthcare, energy, weather and professional services. Most recently, Ernst and Young successfully launched its Natural Language Generation portal which uses artificial intelligence technology to allow the company’s employees to make better decisions for clients with faster, high-quality reporting.  

Impact

  • Arria NLG is now a world leader in the field of Natural Language Generation
  • The company’s software improves efficiency, facilitates decision making and saves time and costs for major global industries
  • Arria’s new NLG Studio toolkit allows organisations to develop their own natural language generation systems