50 Best Companies to Watch 2020

With its patented natural language generation technology, Arria NLG is transforming the language and cognitive branch of AI


Natural Language Generation (NLG) is defined as the process of producing meaningful sentences and phrases in the form of natural language.

NLG’s purpose is to transform terabytes of structured data into contextual, explanatory narratives, providing executives with actionable insights as written or spoken narratives. NLG falls under the category of language and cognitive branch of artificial intelligence (AI). This is where machines can reason and communicate like a human being, expressing the full story your data in everyday vernacular.

NLG platforms can automatically write rich, compelling narratives — based on insights extracted from datasets — that you would believe were written by a human subject matter expert.

As the Power of Language moves rapidly from the mind of man to the machine in the form of software, life will change for everyone, everywhere, in ways that cannot yet be imagined. The highest output, the presentation layer, of the most advanced analytics applications in the world remain largely tabulated reports and visualizations. NLG augments graphs and charts with the Power of Language with rich, compelling narratives that are automatically generated by the platforms like Arria NLG Studio. When combined with four other key AI technologies, the emerging impact of NLG on the Datasphere and our lives will be measured in trillions of dollars—not billions. McKinsey & Co. have observed that NLG is one of five core technologies enabling an economic impact estimated to be US $5.0 – $6.7 trillion annually by 2025.

In conversation with Sharon Daniels, Co-Founder and CEO of Arria NLG

Q. Tell us about Arria NLG, natural language generation and the services you provide.

What’s truly amazing about Arria and natural language generation (NLG) is the ubiquity and the utility of NLG. Enterprises are applying NLG to everything from financial services investment reporting, sports analytics, automated journalism, and clinical safety reporting. Arria uses algorithms that combine Advanced Analytics with Computational Linguistics that allow people to quickly and easily harness the actionable insights within their data. Bank of New York Mellon uses NLG for performance attribution and many other applications across financial services. The BBC uses Arria to create data-driven articles at scale and with hyper-personalization. They covered the UK election results using Arria and reported real-time results to a broader audience as a result. We recently partnered with Microsoft and TIBCO to bring data understanding to their COVID-19 live dashboards when people needed to understand what’s going on. One of my favorite use-cases is what we’re doing with clinical safety reporting. Arria takes clinical trial data and automates reports that get submitted to the FDA, accelerating the timetable for bringing new drugs to the market. Also, in going through the review and the trials, you’re getting insights into potential adverse effects. Working with partners like Glemser, Arria helps save lives by dramatically streamlining the CSR process and subsequently bringing drugs to market faster. Consider the volumes of data that businesses generate every day. The need to wrangle all that information is why business intelligence dashboards are so popular – for their ability to aggregate terabytes of data and present insights through visual analytics. Now, with Arria NLG, you can instantly turn that data – literally within seconds – into a written analysis detailing the story your data has to tell, the implications of findings, and the value of communicating data into easily consumable written – or spoken – narratives. NLG narratives augment the visual analytics that we have and use every day, such as pie charts and graphs that tell us quite a bit. But without supplementary written analyses, it’s impossible to fully utilize and capture all insights hidden within a dashboard’s underlying data.

Q. Tell us a little bit about out under the hood and the sophistication behind natural language generation, specifically Arria’s capabilities.

Arria’s heritage is data science. Our founding scientists come from Aberdeen, Scotland, the birthplace of NLG: Professor Ehud Reiter and Dr. Yaji Sripada. These visionaries created natural language generation systems, along with a few other brilliant scientists. We were lucky to be able to help them commercialize technology that is as sophisticated as it is easy-to-use. Our flagship platform, Arria Studio, represents years of bringing computational linguistics or language functions together with advanced analytics, which is the secret sauce behind converting data into something meaningful.

Q. What are the factors that help your company to compete on a global platform?

As a global company, Arria has the advantage of getting a wide range of diverse feedback. This input is nothing short of invaluable. One factor is helping people get over the misconceptions of AI and realize that NLG has been around for more than 30 years. It wasn’t until other technologies, such as business intelligence dashboards, robotic process automation, and other data aggregation tools, hit the scene that businesses could do data mapping or even best practices for managing data. Once those things started to progress, the value of adding natural language generation – the communication layer of AI – began showing its inherent pricelessness. Competing on a global level, in multiple industry verticals is paramount. Our multinational footprint allows us to serve people 24/7/365 from our locations across the USA, in Aberdeen, Scotland; London, England; Berlin, Germany; Sydney, Australia.

Q. What are your future plans for the development of your company?

One of the most exciting developments is Arria for Excel. Users can generate narrative directly from within Excel by downloading the Arria for Excel add-in. Let us not forget that despite the rapid adoption of BI and RPA, Microsoft Excel is still the most widely adopted software analytics tool with 1.2 billion users across the globe. Arria can be downloaded from the Microsoft App Store directly. Within Excel, users can download Arria’s integration and instantly start narrating spreadsheets, charts, and graphs. From financial reporting to any type of sales analysis, Arria NLG is an invaluable addition to Excel. Think about it – wherever you’re using Excel, you’re going you want well-written analyses or summaries included in your report. While it may sound cliché, I believe Arria’s future exists in the here and now. We will continue to create NLG solutions that offer out-of-the-box, no-code NLG capabilities to instantly add data-driven narratives to their existing workflow — run using Excel or any of the business intelligence dashboards. As I mentioned, wherever there’s data, you’ll find Arria and the resources to increase your ability to analyze and interpret timely data better, faster, and more thoroughly than ever before.

“We, as a society, are smarter because of technology, which to me is very exciting. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire career and have always enjoyed the challenge of bringing new technologies to market.”