What industries are next to be disrupted by NLP and Text Analysis?
It’s certainly an exciting time be involved in Natural Language Processing (NLP), not only for those of us who are involved in the development and cutting-edge research that is powering its growth, but also for the multitude of organizations and innovators out there who are finding more and more ways to take advantage of it to gain a competitive edge within their respective industries.
With the global NLP market expected to grow to a value of $16 billion by 2021, it’s no surprise to see the tech giants of the world investing heavily and competing for a piece of the pie. More than 30 private companies working to advance artificial intelligence technologies have been acquired in the last 5 years by corporate giants competing in the space, including Google, Yahoo, Intel, Apple and Salesforce. 
It’s not all about the big boys, however, as NLP, text analysis and text mining technologies are becoming more and more accessible to smaller organizations, innovative startups and even hobbyist programmers.
NLP is helping organizations make sense of vast amounts of unstructured data, at scale, giving them a level of insight and analysis that they could have only dreamed about even just a couple of years ago.
Today we’re going to take a look at 3 industries on the cusp of disruption through the adoption of AI and NLP technologies;
- The legal industry
- The insurance industry
- Customer service
NLP & Text Analysis in the Legal industry
While we’re still a long long way away from robot lawyers, the current organic crop of legal professionals are already taking advantage of NLP, text mining and text analysis techniques and technologies to help them make better-informed decisions, in quicker time, by discovering key insights that can often be buried in large volumes of data, or that may seem irrelevant until analyzed at scale, uncovering strategy-boosting and often case-changing trends.
Let’s take a look at two examples of how legal pro’s are leveraging NLP and text analysis technologies to their advantage;
- Information retrieval in ediscovery
- Contract management
- Article summarization
Information retrieval in ediscovery
Ediscovery refers to discovery in legal proceedings such as litigation, government investigations, or Freedom of Information Act requests, where the information sought is in electronic format. Electronic documents are often accompanied by metadata that is not found on paper documents, such as the date and time the document was written, shared, etc. This level of minute detail can be crucial in legal proceedings.
As far as NLP is concerned, ediscovery is mainly about information retrieval, aiding legal teams in their search for relevant and useful documents.
In many cases, the amount of data requiring analysis can exceed 100GB, when often only 5% – 10% of it is actually relevant. With outside service bureaus charging $1,000 per GB to filter and reduce this volume, you can start to see how costs can quickly soar.
Data can be filtered and separated by extracting mentions of specific entities (people, places, currency amounts, etc), including/excluding specific timeframes and in the case of email threads, only include mails that contain mentions of the company, person or defendant in question.
NLP enables contract management departments to extract key information, such as currency amounts and dates, to generate reports that summarize terms across contracts, allowing for comparisons among terms for risk assessment purposes, budgeting and planning.
In cases relating to Intellectual Property disputes, attorneys are using NLP and text mining techniques to extract key information from sources such as patents and public court records to help give them an edge with their case.
Legal documents can be notoriously long and tedious to read through in their entirety. Sometimes all that is required is a concise summary of the overall text to help gain an understanding of its content. Summarization of such documents is possible with NLP, where a defined number of sentences are selected from the main body of text to create, for example, a summary of the top 5 sentences that best reflect the content of the document as a whole.
NLP & Text Analysis in the Insurance industry
Insurance providers gather massive amounts of data each day from a variety of channels, such as their website, live chat, email, social networks, agents and customer care reps. Not only is this data coming in from multiple channels, it also relates to a wide variety of issues, such as claims, complaints, policies, health reports, incident reports, customer and potential customer interactions on social media, email, live chat, phone… the list goes on and on.
The biggest issue plaguing the insurance industry is fraud. Let’s take a look at how NLP, data mining and text analysis techniques can help insurance providers tackle these key issues;
- Streamline the flow of data to the correct departments/agents
- Improve agent decision making by putting timely and accurate data in front of them
- Improve SLA response times and overall customer experience
- Assist in the detection of fraudulent claims and activity
Streamlining the flow of data
That barrage of data and information that insurance companies are being hit by each and every day needs to be intricately managed, stored, analyzed and acted upon in a timely manner. A missed email or note may not only result in poor service and an upset customer, it could potentially cost the company financially if, for example, relevant evidence in a dispute or claim case fails to surface or reach the right person/department on time.
Natural Language Processing is helping insurance providers ensure the right data reaches the right set of eyeballs at the right time through automated grouping and routing of queries and documents. This goes beyond simple keyword-matching with text analysis techniques used to ‘understand’ the context and category of a piece of text and classify it accordingly.
According to a recent report by Insurance Europe, detected and undetected fraudulent claims are estimated to represent 10% of all claims expenditure in Europe. Of note here, of course, is the fraud that goes undetected.
Insurance companies are using NLP and text analysis techniques to mine the data contained within unstructured sources such as applications, claims forms and adjuster notes to unearth certain red flags in submitted claims. For example, a regular indicator of organized fraudulent activity is the appearance of common phrases or descriptions of incidents from multiple claimants. The trained human eye may or may not be able to spot such instances but regardless, it would be a time consuming exercise and likely prone to subjectivity and inconsistency from the handler.
The solution for insurance providers is to develop NLP-powered analytical dashboards that support quick decision making, highlight potential fraudulent activity and therefore enable their investigators to prioritise cases based on specifically defined KPIs.
NLP, Text Analysis & Customer Service
In a world that is increasingly focused on SLAs, KPIs and ROIs, the role of Customer Support and Customer Success, particularly in technology companies, has never been more important to the overall performance of an organization. With the ever-increasing number of startups and innovative companies disrupting pretty much every industry out there, customer experience has become a key differentiator in markets flooded with consumer choice.
Let’s take a look at three ways that NLP and text analysis is helping to improve CX in particular;
- Chat bots
- Analyzing customer/agent interactions
- Sentiment analysis
- Automated routing of customer queries
It’s safe to say that chat bots are a pretty big deal right now! These conversational agents are beginning to pop up everywhere as companies look to take advantage of the cutting edge AI that power them.
Chances are that you interact with multiple artificial agents on a daily basis, perhaps even without realizing it. They are making recommendations as we online shop, answering our support queries in live chats, generating personalized fitness routines and communicating with us as virtual assistants to schedule meetings.
Analyzing customer/agent interactions
Interactions between support agents and customers can uncover interesting and actionable insights and trends. Many interactions are in text format by default (email, live chat, feedback forms) while voice-to-text technology can be used to convert phone conversations to text so they can be analyzed.
Listening to their customers
The voice of the customer is more important today than ever before. Social media channels offer a gold mine of publicly available consumer opinion just waiting to be tapped. NLP and text analysis enables you to analyze huge volumes of social chatter to help you understand how people feel about specific events, products, brands, companies, and so on.
Analyzing the sentiment towards your brand, for example, can help you decrease churn and improve customer support by uncovering and proactively working on improving negative trends. It can help show you what you are doing wrong before too much damage has been done, but also quickly show you what you are doing right and should therefore continue doing.
Customer feedback containing significantly high levels of negative sentiment can be relayed to Product and Development teams to help them focus their time and efforts more accordingly.
Because of the multi-channel nature of customer support, you tend to have customer queries and requests coming in from a variety of sources – email, social media, feedback forms, live chat. Speed of response is a key performance metric for many organizations and so routing customer queries to the relevant department, in as few steps as possible, can be crucial.
NLP is being used to automatically route and categorize customer queries, without any human interaction. As mentioned earlier, this goes beyond simple keyword-matching with text analysis techniques being used to ‘understand’ the context and category of a piece of text and classify it accordingly.
As the sheer amount of unstructured data out there grows and grows, so too does the need to gather, analyze and make sense of it. Regardless of the industry in which they operate, organizations that focus on benefitting from NLP and text analysis will no doubt gain a competitive advantage as they battle for market share.