How AI is Teaching Analytics A New Language

The seasons remind us that all environments change. When it comes to analytics, the season for technological change is becoming a stream of information to learn and for metrics to adjust from their initial roles in representing human activity.

Natural language processing, an active subfield of artificial intelligence (AI), is changing what professionals consider valuable analytics. Metrics were originally conceived as diagnostic criterions to website structure meant to represent people through interaction with a code element in a website or an app.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

Now metrics must account for which digital-related behaviors are trending consistently. Machines are increasingly mimicking human "cognitive" functions, such as "learning" and "problem solving". These activities reflect a series of decisions, and differ from a click of a button. This kind of measurement lends support for predictive analytics and deep learning modeling.

The evolving perception is an extension of where analytics has been headed in the last few years. Analytics providers have been integrating data sources, making many analytics solutions a central dashboard. Moreover, building the right infrastructure to store and process massive amounts of data had to occur as well to make AI ripe for development.

A/B testing is a good result of the current development trend. A/B testing is meant to highlight when one web element is preferred over another. But Adobe announced an AI influenced feature to Target, its A/B testing platform for its analytics solution. That feature is Auto-Target, a machine learning automation protocol that automates personalization testing of elements to determine the preferred individual experience with media. The marketer can select and automatically test various layouts, images, and texts that define not only presented offers, but also impact the larger customer experience.

Many long-time analytics experts see AI moving analytics and data usage within a business organization into alignment with customer experience needs. Dennis Mortensen, co-founder of the company, has refined his analytics skills since its early days -- he created Yahoo Analytics in those days -- and is now a major player in AI solutions with Amy, an AI-powered personal assistant that is now exiting beta. According to Mortensen, “We’re moving away from a setting in which software assists you in teasing intelligence out of data (say, fooling around inside Google Analytics) to a new paradigm in which you describe your objective, and an AI agent does this for you …All the value is in the question."

So how do organizations build the right infrastructure to uncover efficiency opportunities and business advantages from the data? One way is to look at metrics as a way to help answer the following questions:

  • What answers were you looking for from the metric?
  • Where in the reporting did you look for your answers?
  • Did you discover something else?
  • Are there any gaps in information in the story being told?

Another way is to look for better visualizations that serve the storytelling needs of the data examined. Better visualizations arrange data so that storytelling can be established. Solutions such as Google Data Studio and Neo4j offer simplified visualization that serve the same purpose -- to provide a digital scratchpad with user-friendly interface to ease data updates and graph changes meant for different reporting audiences.

No matter what digital season you are in -- beginning or more established -- the AI advances correspond to the next logical step in analytics, to derive the story and insights from the data based on accurate predicted outcomes. Those who harness these opportunities will see a significant competitive advantage.

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Pierre DeBois, Founder, Zimana

Pierre DeBois is the founder of Zimana, a small business analytics consultancy that reviews data from Web analytics and social media dashboard solutions, then provides recommendations and Web development action that improves marketing strategy and business profitability. He has conducted analysis for various small businesses and has also provided his business and engineering acumen at various corporations such as Ford Motor Co. He writes analytics articles for and Pitney Bowes Smart Essentials and contributes business book reviews for Small Business Trends. Pierre looks forward to providing All Analytics readers tips and insights tailored to small businesses as well as new insights from Web analytics practitioners around the world.

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Re: SIRI vs Alexa
  • 11/9/2016 11:29:16 AM

The "A/B" testing scenario seems to be well aligned as noted that will hopefully provide the "protocol that automates personalization testing of elements to determine the preferred individual experience with media." It would seem once an ideal is found the customer satisfaction and experience will then follow that particular user's needs much better.

SIRI vs Alexa
  • 11/3/2016 10:08:04 AM

We recently welcomed the Amazon Alexa into our home. I like her but she's kinda dumb. Often I ask her a question and as she answers she doesn't know my husband will yell from the other room 'Have to ask Siri that!'

Basically Alexa can respond to a specific task request.  "Play Classical Music on Pandora" or "What is the temperature"  However she cannot just tell me the temp - she has to go through the whole day.  She frequently confuses things. There is an Amazon playlist called Coffee House Jazz.  If I ask for it - she often tells me there is no Coffee Table jazz and then will just play Jazz.  But not the Jazz I want - like old timey jazz.  so now I say  Coffee HOUSE jazz and she sometimes gets it. 

Siri is smarter and she does seem to interact with me.  She can tell me the distances and answer questions. But she cannot play Pandora without making me log in.

I cannot imagine that Amazon is not analyzing every piece of info to make her smarter. I go to the app and complain constantly about the coffee table issue.  I need a better playlist name.  :-)


Re: Collaboration vs. Insruction
  • 10/31/2016 7:49:05 PM

Not quite ready for Westworld yet; Still adjusting to the event IRL. ;-)

Collaboration vs. Insruction
  • 10/31/2016 7:29:28 PM

It's an amazing step foward where an analyst is more collaborating with the software rather than telling the software what to do.  I can see this going much further with software designign clinical experiments or health solutions along with a doctor.

I can also see a day when you and I can go to a website and have very different experiences as each site is adapted to us individually.

By the way.  Anywone watching Westworld on HBO?