Artificial intelligence (AI) has many promising applications for businesses today. Most of these use cases revolve around data-centric, logical decision-making, but AI can be helpful in areas as nuanced and creative as language, too. Natural language processing (NLP) is the perfect example.
NLP has made major strides over the past few years, but what exactly is this technology, and why should you use it? Here’s a closer look.
What Is Natural Language Processing?
Natural language processing is a branch of AI that teaches machines to understand and use human language. That includes text and speech, as well as comprehending what someone is saying and generating original sentences. It’s the technology behind spelling and grammar tools like Grammarly and lets smart assistants like Siri talk to users.
NLP isn’t necessarily new, but it’s surging in popularity. According to IBM’s Global AI Adoption Index, almost half of AI-adopting businesses today are using NLP applications, with 25% planning on implementing these tools soon.
“NLP is the technology behind spelling and grammar tools like Grammarly and lets smart assistants like Siri talk to users.”
Human language is complex and nuanced, so machines have traditionally struggled to grasp it. However, recent advancements have started to overcome these barriers, with NLP models like ChatGPT making headlines for rivaling humans with their language abilities.
Why Businesses Should Use NLP
NLP is a great place to start if you want to invest in AI, regardless of what your business does. Here are a few reasons it can be beneficial in various areas.
Improving Customer Service
Customer service is one of the most popular and advantageous applications for NLP. You’ve experienced this firsthand if you’ve spoken with a chatbot when you had questions about a product or service.
Chatbots are an ideal way to improve customer service because they let you answer customers’ questions 24/7, even with minimal staff. Some users have issues too complex for the bot to handle, but they can pass them on to human agents accordingly, scheduling them by the urgency of the case. That way, you can tackle the most difficult problems first while AI handles the rest.
“Chatbots let you answer customers’ questions 24/7.”
Real-world use cases highlight these benefits. Of the 82% of modern consumers who’ve interacted with chatbots, 70% say the bots answered all their questions satisfactorily. Almost all marketers agree that these tools have improved their customer journeys.
Optimizing the Hiring Process
Another reason to use NLP is to improve the hiring and onboarding process. NLP models can analyze applications and user profiles on employment sites to find ideal candidates for a job while you focus on other tasks. That’s particularly helpful with millennial and Gen Z applicants, who start job-searching while in college, making early hires better.
Similarly, chatbots can help automate the onboarding process, getting new employees up to speed when you can’t sacrifice a senior worker’s time to supervise them. These bots can also handle things like filing tax and financial documents to incorporate recruits into the company faster.
Social Media and Review Analytics
You can also use NLP to better understand what consumers think about your business. These applications can scan social media interactions and mentions of your company name to see if they’re positive or negative. They can then highlight what people like about your organization and where they think you can improve.
These same models can pull similar insights from customer and employee reviews. Once you have this information, you can see where and how you should change to make a better impression on consumers or workers.
Streamlining Repetitive Tasks
Another beneficial application of NLP is to automate repetitive language-based tasks. Employees spend 28% of each workday on emails, taking hours away from more mission-critical and profitable work. Consequently, using NLP to auto-generate routine emails and pull important information from incoming messages can save hours a day per employee.
Similarly, chatbots can handle brand interactions on social media while employees focus on other, more value-adding tasks. This automation lets you focus on what you do best without sacrificing online engagement.
“Chatbots can handle brand interactions on social media while employees focus on other, more value-adding tasks.”
Some companies even use NLP models to generate code from natural language. Employees can enter what they want the code to do in a normal sentence, and the computer translates that into code. This can save time and reduce errors, especially with workers who aren’t as well-versed in computing languages.
Enabling International Collaboration
NLP can also help you capitalize on a global workforce. The translation is an often-overlooked application for NLP in business but has considerable potential. AI-powered real-time translation tools let you and your team communicate effectively with colleagues around the globe, regardless of language barriers.
Working closely with people in other countries opens up more workforce opportunities for your company. You could hire more employees from India, which produces the most STEM graduates of any country, to overcome regional tech talent shortages. Alternatively, you could open branches in other nations to serve new markets and grow your company.
Natural Language Processing Is a Powerful Tool
As these use cases and benefits demonstrate, NLP is one of the best AI applications for businesses today. This technology may be the best way forward if you’re wondering how to integrate AI into your company.
Natural language processing is only getting better over time. These tools’ advantages and possible applications will keep growing, opening new opportunities for you to capitalize on AI.