When your phone chimes, you look at it. When your Jawbone vibrates, you stand up. (And when Pokemon Go shows you a monster, you walk after it.)
Sisense, a private business analytics company focused on making business information understandable to all types of users, is likewise focused on pairing insights with real-world prompts and interactions.
On July 12, the company launched BI Virtually Everywhere, a private beta program that's testing engagement with two devices: the Amazon Echo and an Internet of things (IoT) light bulb.
"We leverage these devices to allow people to interact with insights from objects in the world around them, when it's contextually relevant," Guy Levy-Yurista, vice president of product at Sisense, told eWEEK.
Echo, and its Alexa voice assistant, is "the first opportunity for AI [artificial intelligence] to humanize data consumption, allowing business users to move beyond the confining two dimensions of screens and interact more naturally with their data by asking questions and hearing results in real time," Sisense said in a statement. "The ease of conversation drives increased engagement with data and opens access to BI [business intelligence] insights."
Act-On Software, a marketing platform company, ran an early pilot of a Sisense-enabled Echo. James Levine, its director or analytics and operations, said in a statement: "We can engage Echo in a simple conversation to keep a pulse on our business. When you break down the barriers to access and make the experience personal, engagement becomes much more frequent and BI insights much more tangible."
Levy-Yurista said the Echo is becoming a kind of "hero in the boardroom," with people taking it into meetings.
"They say, 'Echo launch insights,' and they start querying it. 'What is my sales number for the quarter? What is my revenue growth?' It gives humans the ability to interact with information in a very human way."
Levy-Yurista said this first generation of the Sisense product enables users to ask questions about information that is already in their analyses. A next generation of the product will be able to "run queries against the data without any preparation, as long as the data is in the tables."
He also clarified that the Echo is connected locally to the server, which "holds the data tightly. None of it goes back to Amazon."
IoT Light Bulb Triggers Action
As for the IoT light bulb, "It sounds extremely simplistic, but it's incredibly powerful," said Levy-Yurista. "Moods are dependent on light, and it triggers action on a subconscious level. If we tie the light bulb to a KPI [key performance indicator], it creates a way for people to grab a KPI in a very fundamental and instant way."
One customer (Sisense, which calls itself a startup, has more than 1,000 customers in 50 countries) ran a pilot with the light bulb after it struggled to implement an in-house system—it couldn't get employees to log in.
The company put a Sisense-enabled IoT light bulb in the center of a space, where all employees could see it, and made it glow red until the system hit a determined log-in percentage.
"It's red as long as a percentage doesn't log in. And people just did not want to see the red," said Levy-Yurista. Log-ins improved by 500 percent.
"We've seen a lot of examples like that," he continued. "People's moods change. They see the light bulb, and they immediately know the KPI," whether it's an indication of danger on a manufacturing floor or the satisfaction of people on a phone call.
Both items are tied to an API, enabling customers and developers to get creative with their solutions. Every new customer that sees it dreams up a new use case for it, Levy-Yurista said. One company even tied success rates to the amount of ultraviolet light shining over some plants. The health of the in-house garden became an indicator of the company's health.
"We're working now on leveraging natural language with AI bots," said Levy-Yurista. "We're also exploring new ways to control the environment that go beyond speech or lighting. It could be sound, it could be temperature," he said, noting that he couldn't say too much.
"There are so many ways."