Published: September 3, 2019 - 09:27

A Cheat Sheet: Natural Language Processing

Questions this Cheat Sheet seeks to answer:

  • What is NLP?
  • Why does NLP matter?
  • What is the difference NLP can make for your business

 

What is NLP?

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is an emerging form of artificial intelligence that analyzes human language and text within context to draw insights. NLP is essentially a complex and interwoven set of algorithms that help computers understand human beings’ natural language, both in written text and spoken form.

Basic NLP algorithms can detect the different parts of a written sentence–nouns, verbs, and adjectives–and use machine learning to analyze the relation between the meanings of words in a scientific way that allows a computer to “read” a section of text.

By identifying the relationships between words and parts of grammar, NLP contributes to a software’s capability to produce a response to a human-written or human-spoken query.

Based on these NLP algorithms, voice-based virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant can recognize the semantics of written and spoken words and produce an automated response.

 

Why does NLP matter?

In recent years, there have been significant breakthroughs in empowering software to “understand” language just as we do. Enterprises investing in NLP are seeking ways to integrate the AI into current software, or use it to create standalone systems, such as virtual assistants. Reports show that the market for NLP software is expected to grow to an estimated $5.4 billion by 2025, and the total market opportunity from new sales of hardware and professional services could reach $22.3 billion.

NLP is impacting a slew of industries beyond tech: by adding new software features with advanced capabilities to analyze text, voice, and other language assets, businesses can provide a streamlined user experience and ultimately add value for their end users. For example, NLP-empowered insight engines help consumer or enterprise users get the facts across disparate data sources they were looking for. NLP enables these technologies to add predictive features and contextualize a user’s search query in order to offer useful recommendations or related information in their search results that help improve the speed or efficiency of the search process.

 

What is the difference NLP can make for your business?

Adding advanced semantics and predictive search features offer a range of possibilities for adding value to your business. The AI’s intricate analysis of text or speech can automate menial tasks for your employees, such as manually combing through topic-specific information.

In addition, AI-powered chatbots, whether consumer- or employee-facing, deliver an efficient experience for users arriving on your company’s website in need of basic information. Using NLP to parse the user’s questions, chatbots can forward the user to a sales representative or bypass the need for a sales call altogether by sending them to the webpage they’re looking for. In this B2B example, chat bots leveraging NLP can lead to significant cost savings for businesses.

In addition, the AI can conduct sentiment analysis to understand the emotions behind certain activities online, such as on social media. For example, the marketing and sales teams can plan campaigns based on the positive or negative reaction of online populations, which NLP can detect on a large scale.

Finally, software that use NLP algorithms to understand and answer user queries are making their way into an array of industries like retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and many more. Not only can customer service workers efficiently search for the precise information they need, but physicians can leverage insight engines with NLP that quickly and conveniently find accurate patient information, saving them precious time and promising cost-savings for providers.

Ultimately, innovations in NLP promise to bring more refined automation to a host of industries, allowing employees, business leaders, and other stakeholders to spend their time more efficiently and remain relevant in their increasingly competitive markets.