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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, France, 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 written reports themselves. Indeed, according to Yseop, financial analysts spend 48% of their time writing and updating reports, a figure it said falls to 9% when using Yseop’s 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 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 work 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 well-suited to automation, and that’s something that 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.
ALIX then processes the report to understand the content and figure out how much of it it would be able to automate for the user.
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.
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.
In cases where ALIX delivers a lower automation confidence score, as was the second report we tried, that 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 that a company could decide to run a few pages of their document through Yseop’s financial analyst, rather than the full thing, and still derive some value.
With ALIX, Yseop is ultimately 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 its own.”
There are of course broader concerns that some bigger companies may have 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 that 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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