Artificial intelligence: It’s all about the data

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Businesses are going to need to start leveraging AI to cope with the ever-expanding volume of data generated by trends, such as the Internet of Things. But there are challenges. And organisations need to have a note of caution around how they adopt AI.

It’s all about the data

“If you put garbage [data] in, you’ll get garbage [data] out,” explains Greg Hanson, CTO & VP at Informatica.

“What we actually need is not just artificial intelligence in the analytics layer — in terms of generating graphical views of data and making decisions in real time around data — we need to make sure that we’ve got artificial intelligence in the backend to ensure we’ve got well-curated data going into our analytics engines.”

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If businesses don’t do this, they won’t see the benefit of analytical AI in businesses moving forward. It will be an exercise in futility.

“In my opinion, a lot of mistakes could be made, some serious mistakes [that will damage the necessary future adoption of AI in business], if we don’t make sure that we train our analytical AI with high quality, well-curated data,” adds Hanson.

Simply, if the data sets aren’t good, then AI advocates in organisations are not going to get the results they expect. This could hinder any future investment in the technology.

Greg Hanson believes it is all about the data when it comes to successfully implementing AI
Greg Hanson believes it is all about the data when it comes to successfully implementing AI.

Data diplomacy

Following continuing stories, most recently with the 50 million users affected by Facebook’s data breach, customers really want to understand how organisations treat their data. It is going to become a differentiator in the marketplace.

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In the next few years, the Amazon-style marketplace will continue to develop. Here, different vendors offering a variety of products will be available, alongside a ratings-associated system based on the reviews of people in the industry. Increasingly, things like trust scores will start to evolve where it’s all about how the individuals, and whether they choose do business with an organisation based on how that organisation treats their data.

This is the concept of the data diplomacy, “because, really, the data is never owned by an organisation,” says Hanson.

“Data diplomacy is really about making sure that my data passport, for want of a better word, is well governed. If I’m an organisation wanting to demonstrate that I can curate and look after your data, then it should be easy for me to comply with things like the right to be forgotten,where I know where your data resides and assure how it’s moved and so on. Increasingly, this will be a differentiator in the marketplace.”

As data becomes increasingly critical to society and business, the idea of data diplomacy emerges
As data becomes increasingly critical to society and business, the idea of data diplomacy emerges.

AI and data curation

AI can help improve consumer trust, data governance and data diplomacy. To do this, it is important to have AI in the backend as well.

“It’s not so much about the last mile of generating a report or generating some analysis, which is where AI is currently being deployed. It’s, arguably, as important to make sure AI is deployed to capture how data is curated, how it’s changed in terms of the quality and how data propagates,” explains Hanson.

The implementation of AI in data curation will allow businesses to track and trace the lifecycle and propagation of data throughout a company. Organisations that can’t do that will struggle to truly look after their customer’s data. And, therefore, hinder consumer trust, while having regulatory implications.

“AI can help to make sure that that propagation of data and the lifecycle of that data is tracked, traced and made available to organisations to help manage, and prove that they are a good custodian of someone’s data,” continues Hanson.

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The stewards of data

In any organisation it is important for every employee to use consumer data in an appropriate way — in line with regulations and morality.

But who should be the custodian of data? Is it the CIO, CTO or CDO? Hanson believes it is the CIO who should become the steward of data.

The role is evolving, and now we are seeing two types of CIO. There’s the CIO who keeps the lights on CIO, and there’s the CIO who concerns themselves with data. In order to maintain their position in terms of the hierarchy of an organisation, CIOs need to be investing their time and education around how they look after an organisation’s data.

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“The adoption of AI, the propagation of data, the governance and the quality of data, is becoming a key aspect of the CIO’s role moving forward,” explains Hanson. “It’s not about managing costs and speeds, it’s about managing data and that should be the single aspect that they concern themselves with. And everything else is backing up that strategy.”

And, the CTO?

The CTO, in general, should focus on the innovation side of things. Their role is about making sure that they can translate a business’s requirements into a requirement for projects, technology and data.

“The CTO focuses themselves on how they should innovate with data, in terms of adopting a new technology or a new platform, rather than looking after it,” says Hanson.

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“A good CTO understands what the business initiatives and imperatives are, in terms of growth and new markets, and understands the competitive landscape.”

“Then it’s about the use of data, combined with new innovations in technology [like AI], in order to help organisation’s differentiate in the market.”

The role should focus on how best to leverage data with new AI engines, new data platforms and new cloud, in order to do things smarter and quicker, while being more responsive to the consumer base.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...