If you’ve ever used predictive text, you’ve used natural language processing technology. But its uses extend far beyond finishing your sentences in texts and emails. Find out how it can benefit your company, your team, and your customers.
A computer didn’t write this article. It wrote this one for The Guardian, though. Here’s how: It got a big dose of help from a little something called Natural Language Processing, or NLP.
Whether you realize it or not, NLP has become as routine as typing a text to your colleague. In fact, you probably have relied upon NLP to pick the perfect word without realizing it. NLP is leveraged all the time to help us humans type faster by grabbing hold of predictive text.
Still not quite sure what NLP is or how it works? Think of it this way: NLP serves as a bridge between the human and computer worlds, as we speak vastly different languages. Built using AI, NLP helps computers make linguistic sense of what we write and say. After all, humans can be complicated creatures, and we use tons of euphemisms. At the same time, NLP can help non-techie types gain higher comfort levels with computers, programming, and data.
NLP isn’t just useful for telling Alexa what song to play or finishing your Gmail thoughts. It’s becoming a powerful tool for professionals across a wide swath of industries around the globe. As one author noted in a piece for Harvard Business Review, NLP was helping him optimize his research processes. The result? He could do his work faster and with less friction — and he didn’t have to sacrifice an ounce of peace of mind.
So can NLP serve up advantages for your company? To be honest, it probably already is, at least on some level. Again, think about all the times predictive text has saved you the effort of completing a sentence. However, if you’re looking for ways to actively bring more NLP into your everyday workflows, try one or more of these suggestions.
- Lean on NLP for better-informed business decisions.
You’re sitting on plenty of valuable data that keeps growing exponentially. NLP can not only parse through the data, but also assist you in finding trends. By interpreting enormous data pools, NLP can reveal opportunities. Perhaps best of all, you don’t have to understand Linux or Java to get the answers you seek. You can just ask an NLP-powered program to perform very specific tasks on your behalf in your own language.
For instance, you might want to know which day of the week you sell the most widgets. Rather than sifting through the data yourself or asking a team member to do it on your behalf, you would just ask your NLP assistant. What could be easier? Though NLP software doesn’t always return perfect results, it can be highly accurate. Additionally, its responses can get more reliable over time, thanks to machine learning.
- Relieve labor shortage burdens for your team.
It can be tough to find talent, particularly with the Great Resignation in full swing. NLP is proving to be a boon for businesses looking to continue their operations. For instance, NLP is being harnessed to rev up coding in the medical community. As Sishir Reddy, co-CEO at Episource, explained in an article for ReadWrite, an artificial intelligence/NLP engine enables coding speed and precision in healthcare. Medical coders will remain in high demand but are in short supply, said Reddy. He explained that using new technology can speed up medical coding and “gives human coders more time to fix costly mistakes, increasing accuracy and potentially allowing facilities to direct more resources toward where they’re needed most.” Consequently, many providers and systems turn to integrated NLP programs that analyze statements and perform other duties. NLP can pick out key phrases and individual words even when given unstructured text. NLP software can then recommend ways to organize the data using those items and highlight essential insights. This enables healthcare professionals to advance toward their goals despite job market fluctuations.
- Increase your company’s customer experience.
Everyone’s talking about the importance of the customer experience. While countless organizations have used NLP to fuel their chatbots, those chatbots are only the tip of the service and support iceberg. NLP can be used to go much deeper and construct personalized relationships.
For example, Lilt offers integrations that allow customer representatives to speak with buyers using sophisticated translation software. No matter where the shopper is, they can communicate with a customer service representative in real time. In a global market, the ability to translate any sentence right away can be a key differentiator. Lilt’s success, including a recent $55 million Series C funding grab, shows how much value businesses put into this NLP-focused technology.
At the end of the day, NLP systems will probably never be able to imitate humans completely. But they don’t have to. As is, they’re amazingly useful assets that can help any sized company get an edge up on the competition.
Written by Rhett Power.
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