Elevating Data and Analytics for 2024: A GenAI Imperative

As GenAI ascends in priority for CIOs, CDOs, and business leaders, 2023 has placed data and analytics in the spotlight. The hidden challenge is that entities lagging in data industrialization find themselves trailing in business transformation. GenAI and machine learning are touted to address myriad problems. Morgan Vawter, global vice president of data and analytics at Unilever, reveals in Eric Siegel’s forthcoming “The AI Playbook” that “a versatile data infrastructure and stringent data validation process were key to (their) success.” This begs the question: How can organizations advance their data analytics to enhance customer experiences? I spoke with data professionals at #CIOChat to find out.

Advancing Data and Analytics

The evolution of data analytics traverses from descriptive to predictive and prescriptive analytics. Martin Davis, a seasoned CIO, observes that many organizations are mired in sorting out their data, with few reaching the prescriptive stage. This same progression applies to maintenance in the manufacturing sector, with predictive and prescriptive maintenance gaining traction.

Craig Milroy, enterprise architect for data and analytics at M&T Bank, contends that foundational data knowledge is critical yet often overlooked, leading to less-than-ideal business results. As organizations embrace a federated model with diverse technologies and approaches, leaders must remember the basics amidst the rush to generative AI solutions. “Skipped over the basics leads to suboptimal business outcomes. Within a federated approach, pockets of maturity and various skills, technology, and approaches across the organization. Much opportunity to improve and adopt new approaches to business outcomes.” So, leaders should not forget to do the basics in the rush to generative AI solutions.

The Ripple Effect of Data Maturity

The influence of data maturity extends to customer experience and the enablement of digital business models and products. Joanne Friedman, a manufacturing CIO, emphasizes that a robust data strategy should touch upon customer and employee experiences, as well as revenue avenues through digital innovation. Cleanliness, verification, validation, and governance of data are essential, with the provenance and lineage commonly neglected, sometimes with legal ramifications.

Davis concurs with the fact that identifying governance and data quality is fundamental to the customer experience. In the banking sector, Milroy highlights a data-centric approach towards risk, regulation, and customer experience, aiming to forge customer-centric outcomes with a fresh data strategy. Milroy says, “Data is focused on risk, regulatory, financial, and then CX.”

Tailoring Data for Analytics

So, what needs to be overcome to make data fit for purpose for analytics? Milroy suggests prioritizing business objectives over technology, with a focus on people, culture, and skills. Data infrastructure and an understanding of data flow are crucial. Deb Gildersleeve, a forward-thinking CIO, advocates for integration to improve data hygiene, although remediation at the point of reporting is suboptimal.”

The Imperative of Data Hygiene

Data hygiene and integration hurdles persist in leveraging data for analytics and business outcomes. Friedman lists data quality and governance as ongoing issues, with a frank admission that “dirty” and misunderstood data is rampant, leading to operational and strategic frustrations. However, Davis stresses that without clean data and a singular source of truth, backed by robust governance and ownership, the reliability of insights drawn from data is questionable.

Closing Thoughts

The GenAI and machine learning epoch promises much, contingent on the caliber of underlying data. While emerging GenAI solutions offer to rectify data problems, their maturity is still developing. Therefore, prioritizing data quality is essential for sustaining a competitive edge with AI and innovative business methodologies. This revision aims to preserve the depth of content while enhancing clarity and engagement. If there are specific areas you’d like to emphasize or any additional adjustments required, please let me know!

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Myles Suer

Myles Suer

Myles Suer, is the leading influencer of CIOs, according to Leadtail. He is the facilitator of #CIOChat. The chat has executive level participants from around the world in a mix of industries including banking, insurance, education and government. Myles publishes on a number of sites, including a prior weekly column at CIO.com as well as articles published in ComputerWorld, Cutter Business Technology Journal, and COBIT Focus. He is the Strategic Marketing Director at Privacera.

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