What if your analytics tool simply wrote your report for you?

When Cat Iuga and Daniel Herdean first approached me about their startup I was intrigued – their tool was cool, but I had seen something similar as couple of years back.

Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media had mentioned Narrative Sciences Quill in his presentation at the eMetrics Summit in Chicago in 2013. This natural language generation tool, “creates perfectly written narratives to convey meaning for any intended audience.”

Furthermore, “Automated Insights‘ patented Wordsmith platform transforms Big Data into narrative reports by spotting patterns, correlations and key insights in the data and then describing them in plain English, just like a human would.”

If you follow sports or the financial pages, you’ve been reading text generated by a machine that mixes the proper nouns, verbs and adjectives together for a very readable experience.

When it comes to digital analytics, Automated Insights sits on top of Google Analytics and turns numbers into words.

Narrative Sciences does the same thing. This is from their whitepaper:

Sales at the bar went up this week with a huge spike on Sunday. Overall dinner sales stayed on par with last week, but lunch sales dropped a bit. If these trends persist, it might make sense to pull a waiter off the lunch shift and get another bartender on Sunday.

You can see how this would be tremendously useful. This is usually what an analyst produces for the business side of the house, over and over again. Perfect for automation.

I told Cat and Daniel that they had competitors way out in front of them and something special would have to be offered to make a difference.

Last Friday, I saw that difference.

Cat told me – and showed me – that their output is much prettier:



I agreed that this use of “cards” was admirable and, yes, much prettier, but not necessarily defensible in start-up parlance… easy to copy.

But then they mentioned that Cognetik sits on top of Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Doubleclick, Adobe Sitecatalyst, and Facebook… and that’s just the start.

Good, but still not as unique as required to make a real go of it.

Then kicker however was this gem:


That’s right – buttons you can slide up and down to change the forecast.

In their words:

Forecast & Optimize Your Next Move

Toss out that crystal ball, because Cognetik makes forecasting revenue—which Data Scientists have hoarded for years—available to marketers without having to learn R or prediction algorithms. On top of access to forecasted revenue 3 months out, you can adjust the What-If levers to simulate alternate revenue scenarios. Sounds complicated? It’s not! It’s as easy as opening Cognetik and scrolling.

This prompted my usual two responses:

How the heck does it do that?
Why doesn’t it do this cool thing as well?

So first: How? Cat explained that they take the data they can get and forecast yesterday’s results and then compare yesterday’s actual results to their forecast and adjust the model… on the fly. Awesome.

But, I whined, why doesn’t it offer up some suggestions on what you might do to affect those changes? “Stay tuned,” Cat said, “we have a lot of things up our sleeves.”

How enthused am I? You can now find me on their About Us page as an Advisor.

Stay tuned indeed.


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