Get data shipshape for GenAI or risk sinking, firms told

technology_aiCompanies are being urged to get their data operations in order before they even attempt to adopt generative AI, as without a unified data strategy and better data management most implementations will fail.

That is one of the key findings of The State of Data and Analytics Report by Salesforce and Tableau, which quizzed over 10,000 analytics, IT, and business leaders for insights on data management and decision-making in the age of AI.

It reveals that those at the sharp end – analytics and IT leaders – are under increasing pressure to get their houses in order. More than three quarters (77%) of business leaders fear they are already missing out on the benefits of GenAI, and marketers are the most desperate to get their mitts on the tools, with 88% suffering a nasty case of FOMO.

It seems many are green with envy at the early adopters, who are already seeing results from GenAI efforts, including faster customer service resolution times and increased sales.

This has not gone unnoticed; the Salesforce report found that 87% of tech leaders say advances in AI make data management a higher priority and 92% say that trustworthy data is needed more than ever before.

IT leaders believe the requirements for successful GenAI use include accurate, complete, and unified data (55%); enhanced security measures to avert new threats to the business (54%); and ethical use guidelines (30%).

But while technical leaders are the most confident in the accuracy of their data – 57% of data and analytics departments and 53% of IT departments were completely confident in data accuracy – teams that depend on that data were much more skeptical, with marketing (45%), sales (42%), and service (40%) leaders expressing less confidence in the accuracy of their organisation’s data.

Tableau Software president and CEO Ryan Aytay said: “The concept of data management and having trusted data continues to be critical. The majority of people we speak to say AI is moving their data management priorities ahead — it’s accelerating it.”

Still, 94% of tech bosses concede they should be getting more value from their data and 78% say their organisations struggle to drive business priorities with data.

Their top data priorities are improving data quality, strengthening security and compliance, building AI capabilities, improving company-wide data literacy, and modernising tools and technologies.

But while the goals may be straightforward, organisations are struggling to achieve them: people do not need to be sold on the potential of AI, but they do need to be sold on short-term and long-term strategies for AI.

Salesforce senior vice president and Wendy Batchelder said: “As companies rapidly embrace AI and realise its benefits, trust must be their top priority. And to instill trust in AI, they must first instill trust in the data that powers it.

“Think about data as a well-balanced diet for AI – you’re healthiest when you avoid junk food and consume all the proper nutrients. Simply put, organisations can only harness the full power of AI when it is fuelled by accurate, comprehensive data.”

Essential to that success is a unified data strategy, which two-thirds (59%) of tech leaders say they do not have — a top concern when it comes to implementing GenAI – while 60% say GenAI will not integrate into their current tech stack.

The report concludes: “Business leaders are nearly unanimous: data and analytics improves decision-making, provided the data results are accurate and accessible. Companies have their work cut out for them, but the benefits of maximising their data’s value is well worth it.”

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