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French AI company Yseop has launched a new tool that instantly shows prospective clients what percentage of their financial reports can be automatically generated.
Founded out of Paris in 2008, Yseop (pronounced “easy op”) applies natural language generation (NLG) to structured data to create “written narratives,” saving personnel from having to fully produce reports themselves. According to Yseop, financial analysts spend 48% of their time writing and updating reports, a figure the company said falls to 9% when using its platform.
Yseop also claims some notable enterprise customers, including Oracle, BNP Paribas, and KBC Asset Management.
The write stuff
Algorithms have been creeping into the journalistic and business reporting realm for some time. A company called Automated Insights powers sports coverage and earnings reports for outlets such as The Associated Press (AP), while Narrative Science offers something similar, with a specific focus on “data storytelling” for the enterprise. Elsewhere, Chinese tech titan Tencent has a robotic reporter called Dreamwriter, which publishes business and finance articles. Last year, a Chinese court ruled that an article produced by Dreamwriter was protected by copyright after another outlet reproduced the content without consent.
Similar to Yseop, each of these companies’ respective technologies works best on structured data, where someone just plugs in the numbers and the AI constructs a coherent story around it. Put another way, not all documents or reports are suited to automation, which is something Yseop is looking to help customers figure out with ALIX, a tool that is available now for free.
First up, the user uploads a PDF document containing an existing financial report from their business.
Above: ALIX: Upload a PDF to process
ALIX then processes the report to understand the content and figure out what percentage it would be able to automate for the user.
Above: ALIX: Processing a PDF
As a test, VentureBeat tried ALIX out with an English-language essay to see how it responded — it correctly assessed that the document was not data-driven.
Above: ALIX: This document is not suitable for automation
We then tried ALIX with two real financial reports to see how it assessed their suitability for automation. In the first case, the report was deemed to be mostly suitable for automation.
Above: ALIX: Automation report statements
Above: How ALIX can automate your report
A lower automation confidence score, as with the second report we tried, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a lost cause. The section breakdown might show that there are specific parts of the report that are very data-driven rather than pure non-data driven static text.
This means a company could decide to run a few pages of a document through Yseop’s financial analyst and still derive some value.
Above: ALIX: Lower overall confidence score
With ALIX, Yseop is trying to remove some of the friction for companies that are considering automating their report writing. It gives them a little insight into how much of their report could be automated, replacing manual processes with a self-serve technological approach.
“This was a process which was quite manual,” Yseop CEO Emmanuel Walckenaer told VentureBeat during a virtual roundtable event yesterday. “So typically the customer would send sample reports to us. We would analyze them and say whether it was good or not good. What’s great with this tool is you get the results immediately. And you can actually test dozens of different reports, and the customers can do that on [their] own.”
Some bigger companies may have broader concerns around using this type of technology. Would a billion-dollar public company really be comfortable uploading sensitive company financials to a third party’s cloud to process? Yseop’s privacy promise runs something like: Reports you upload are not stored and no information is saved. But some businesses might prefer specific technological safeguards (e.g. localized data processing) versus a trust-based ethos.
“Yseop does not openly discuss security and policies, but trust is a core pillar for our organization, and we will not jeopardize customer trust by mishandling customer data,” Walckenaer said. “In addition, security of our applications and platform is a core competency, and we take all necessary measures to ensure customer data integrity is always preserved.”
While ALIX is geared toward the financial sphere for now, there are plans to expand its scope to other industries it supports, including pharmaceutical and medical report writing.
ALIX is available for anyone to use now.
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