Automated Insights, STATS combined: What it means for big data, narrative technology

Automated Insights and STATS have been combined by Vista Equity Partners. The move goes beyond sports and highlights how big data needs narrative algorithms.

The combination of STATS LLC, a sports data and analytics company, and Automated Insights, which writes stories via algorithms, goes well beyond fantasy football and previews the combination of narrative technology and big data.

Vista Equity Partners acquired STATS in 2014 from Fox Sports and the Associated Press. For anyone who follows sports STATS is a known commodity. And if you play fantasy sports you've also likely run into Automated Insights, which provides game recaps and even taunts you after a key loss.

Under the terms of the deal, Automated Insights will be a subsidiary of STATS. The combination will merge Automated Insights' natural language technology, STATS' data and allow the combined business to target analytics, media, healthcare and other verticals.

In other words, STATS and Automated Insights is a sports technology story with broader implications. Narrative algorithms today are separate from the analytics backends they serve. In the future, these companies are going to merge.

Here's what Automated Insights had to say about my one and done in fantasy football. Nothing like being dissed by an algorithm.

Consider a company like Narrative Science. The company caters to financial services firms and writes things like mutual fund reports. Narrative Science takes data and builds a story around it. Wouldn't Narrative Science fit with any company sitting on piles of financial data---Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, SAP, Oracle to name a few?

Of course it would. There's no compelling argument for having narrative technology and analytics as two silos in a data stack. You also see where things are going through companies like BeyondCore. Visualization is one thing, but BeyondCore aims to give you a voice narrative for analytics. BeyondCore CEO Arijit Sengupta said:

"Humans look at graphs and get excited. The solution to the world's problems is not more data scientists. The communication chasm between the business user and analytics is a problem."

The upshot here is that analytics is really about story telling---despite what dozens of data scientists will try to tell you. Visualization is likely to be a complement to narratives when it comes to telling the story behind big data.

If you buy that argument you quickly realize that combining Automated Insights and STATS is about more than fantasy football. A run on narrative algorithm companies is likely to ensue shortly. The sooner the narrative meets analytics the more mainstream big data will become.

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