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Tibco analytics platform gets NLG boost from new integration

Tibco Spotfire's natural language generation capabilities received an upgrade as Tibco revealed an integration with Arria NLG Studio for BI.

The Tibco analytics platform just got a boost of augmented intelligence.

The business intelligence software vendor on Jan. 28 revealed it has enhanced the existing natural language generation (NLG) capabilities of Tibco Spotfire, the main Tibco analytics platform, through an integration with Arria NLG Studio for BI.

Arria NLG Studio for BI is a tool from Arria NLG, an NLG software vendor based in London and founded in 2009. The tool is able to integrate with any API-based platform or BI dashboard to interpret and transform data into either verbal or written narratives -- essentially taking the data beyond data visualizations and explaining the data. It connects to such APIs and dashboards with ArriaConnect.

Before its integration for the Tibco analytics platform, Arria NLG already provided NLG Studio for BI integrations for other BI products from vendors such as Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Qlik and Tableau (now owned by Salesforce).

"Spotfire has its own inbuilt NLG, developed with Tibco AI foundation libraries," said Michael O'Connell, Tibco's chief analytics officer. "We chose to also integrate with Arria after evaluating the NLG space. We find their automated language generation to be concise and informative, and the extension API to offer rich and configurable language generation."

Unlike natural language processing, which is conversational interaction between a user and a computer, NLG is data storytelling.

NLG software is able to examine a data set, derive meaning from the data, and ultimately put it in a narrative form that can be easily understood and acted on by business users without the data interpretation skills of a trained data scientist.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but concise descriptions and annotations can help people interpret and better understand raw stats and visualizations.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Before its Arria NLG integration, Tibco, based in Palo Alto, Calif., and founded in 1997, already had NLG capabilities built into Spotfire. The integration provided by Arria NLG, however, will add to the existing capabilities of the Tibco analytics suite to allow for deeper insight, according to Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research.

"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but concise descriptions and annotations can help people interpret and better understand raw stats and visualizations," Henschen said. "The integration with Arria promises more nuanced and powerful NLG through a prebuilt integration that promises rapid deployment and time to value."

Similarly, O'Connell said that the Arria NLG integration will add to the ability to glean insights from visualizations.

"We believe visual analytics is about insights rather than pretty pictures," he said. "Spotfire's simple Arria integration provides companion insight descriptions with easy configurations for authors and end users."

A sample Tibco dashboard displays an organization's data.
An organization's data is displayed on a sample Tibco dashboard.

While the Arria NLG integration is a new addition to the Tibco analytics platform, it's not the first NLG add-on for Spotfire.

The Arria NLG integration now joins Tibco's partnerships with data storytelling vendors Automated Insights and Narrative Science, noted Donald Farmer, principal at TreeHive Strategy.

"These partnerships were well-received by the community of users, so this is not a totally new area for Tibco -- they understand what they are getting into, Farmer said.

He added that the Tibco analytics platform has natural language query capabilities (NLQ), and said he is curious to see how Tibco will be able to blend NLQ and NLG.

"It will be interesting to see if any synergy develops between these technologies," Farmer said. "There is pretty sophisticated machine learning behind Tibco's NLQ, and once set up it runs continuously behind the scenes. Could this be integrated with NLG for a continuously updated narrative? The potential is intriguing, but we need to hear more about those plans."

The enhanced NLG capabilities come after updates to the Tibco analytics platform in fall 2019, when other AI upgrades featured prominently.

Unveiled at the vendor's Tibco Now user conference in London inSeptember, updates were centered around Tibco's focus on cloud-native deployment and the idea of AI everywhere. Chief among them was a machine learning capability within Spotfire that allows users to discover the root cause behind a specific data point with one click.

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