15 things to consider when selecting an NLP solution


Natural Language Processing (NLP) has become an increasingly important tool for businesses and organizations of all sizes. It allows for the analysis and understanding of human language, which can be used for a variety of tasks from sentiment analysis, to text classification, and entity recognition. With so many NLP solutions available on the market, and each having their own unique spin and focus, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Plus, vendors don’t always make it easy to actually understand the features and tools of their products. So, we’re going to help make it easier for you to have a better understanding of the factors to consider when selecting an NLP solution. In this blog post, we will go over 15 things to consider when selecting an NLP solution. 

Use Case: The first thing to consider when selecting an NLP solution is the specific use case for which it will be used. For example, if you’re a customer service team looking to automate responses to customers, you’ll need a solution that can understand and respond in a natural way. This may seem like an obvious first step but it’s important to call out as people can often get hypnotized by shiny objects vendors put in front of them and don’t necessarily pick the correct solution for their problem.

Training Data: One of the most important factors to consider when selecting an NLP solution is the quality and quantity of training data. NLP models require large amounts of labeled data to be trained, and the more data you have, the better the model will perform.

To learn more about what a Training Data Set is check out our glossary entry.

Accuracy: Of course, accuracy is another most important factor to consider when selecting an NLP solution. Because, seriously, if it’s not accurate then why are you using it? It is important to select a solution that has been proven to be accurate in similar tasks and to test the solution on a variety of datasets yourself to ensure it performs at the level of accuracy you require. 

Natural Language Understanding (NLU): Another important factor you might need to consider is the natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities of the solution. NLU refers to the ability of a system to understand and interpret human language as opposed to the language of computers. It is crucial for tasks such as sentiment analysis, text classification, and entity recognition.

Listen to our AI Today Podcast AI Glossary Series on Natural Language Processing (NLP), NLU, NLG, Speech-to-Text, TTS, Speech Recognition to learn more.

Pre-trained Models: Many NLP solutions come with pre-trained models that can be fine-tuned for specific tasks. These pre-trained models can save a lot of time and resources when building an NLP system, but it is important to make sure that the pre-trained models are suitable for the task at hand.

Listen to our AI Today podcast AI Glossary Series on Machine Learning, Algorithm, Model to learn more.

Speed: The speed of the NLP solution is another important factor to consider. If the solution is too slow, it may not be practical to use in real-time applications. Depending on your needs, this may be an important consideration for you.

Scalability: The scalability of the solution is also a factor to consider. As the amount of data increases, the solution should be able to handle increased volumes without any issues.

Integration: The ease of integration is another factor not to be overlooked. If the solution is difficult to integrate with other systems, it may not be practical to use in a production environment. And you may be setting some team members up for a near impossible task of integration. So, save the headaches and possible resentment and do your research up front about integration capabilities.

Customization: The ability to customize the solution to fit specific needs is another important factor to consider. Some solutions are more flexible than others and allow for greater customization. If you’re going to need to make customizations then make sure you pick a tool that you can do this with.

Support: The level of support, documentation, and training provided by the vendor or open source community is another important factor to consider. If the solution is difficult to use, has a lot of bugs, or doesn’t have an active and supportive community working on it then it may not be the right solution for you. It really depends on the level of knowledge and experience your team has.

Cost: The cost of the solution is almost a no-brainer to put on here. Of course cost matters. But remember sometimes just because you pick a cheaper alternative doesn’t mean you’re actually picking a better one. While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest option, it is important to consider the long-term costs, including the cost of training data, maintenance, and upgrades.

Cloud-based or On-Premises: Deciding whether you want to with a cloud-based or on-premises solution might have more to do with what type of solution your company will support than anything else. Cloud-based solutions are typically easier to set up and maintain, but they may be more expensive in the long run. On-premises solutions, on the other hand, may be more cost-effective but require more resources to set up and maintain.

Language: Consider the languages supported by the solution. If your use case requires multiple languages, it is important to select a solution that supports them. Also, know what languages your programmers are most comfortable in. Don’t pick a solution you have no internal expertise with.

Security: Security is also another critical aspect to consider. It’s essential to ensure that the solution adheres to security standards to protect the data from any breaches. Also, depending on the industry you’re in or what type of data you’re working with will also determine just how secure your system needs to be.

Reputation: Finally, it’s important to consider the reputation of the vendor or the open source tool. A vendor with a good reputation is more likely to provide high-quality products and good customer service. An open source tool with an active and engaged online community is more likely to not have many bugs and issues and introduce new features more regularly.

Choosing the right NLP solution can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. Consider these 15 factors so you can ask the right questions, understand what needs you have, and then make an informed decision that will meet the needs of your business or organization. From the use case and NLU capabilities to the vendor reputation and cost, each factor plays an important role in the overall performance and success of the solution. Remember to test the solution on a variety of datasets to ensure its accuracy and take into account the long-term costs of the solution. With the right NLP solution, your business can improve its efficiency, save time and money, and gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences.

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