Today SAP announced a set of new features for SAP Analytics Cloud.

SwissCognitiveToday SAP announced a set of new features for SAP Analytics Cloud. Refer to the full press release for an overview, but there was one phrase that caught my eye: “users can add new machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligent (AI) capabilities to existing business intelligence and planning workflows.” I’ve discussed, for years, the need for ML/AI to move past the need for very technical people to create solutions and hand them to end users. Until the technology travels further on the path that business intelligence and other technologies have and becomes accessible to end users there won’t be wider adoption.

What is rapidly becoming a “must have” feature rather than leading edge is natural language processing (NLP). The version announced today has improved features for NLP to make it easier for customers to query corporate information without having to navigate technical choices on the screen.

Smart Discovery is also being enhanced. This area is another critical way of integrating ML into the application in a way that makes it a feature that is natively works with other analytic tools. From the linked page, it looks like the system prompts users through questions that help users narrow down their interests. While there is ML behind the scenes, there’s no real need to know that other than the marketing push ML receives these days. The UX doesn’t look any different than any other interface, as should be the case.

While that page does still show the need to select specific databases from a dropdown list box, it is still simplifying the process. I expect that within 12-18 months, companies such SAP will begin to replace those clunky, technical, features with some natural language generation (NLG) in an interface that helps a customer pick information while not having to understand specific data sources.

One interesting feature of Smart Discovery is that ML provides an improved ability to run “what-if” scenarios. ML tools can provide a smoother interface for changing parameters and run simulations.[…]

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