Machine Learning Dominates Conversations at Strata Data Conference

Machine learning and AI continue to be the hottest topic at tech conferences around the country and Strata Data was no different. Data professionals converged at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City from September 11 – 13 and the event was humming with the latest talk of how ML and AI will change the future.

Byron Banks, VP, product marketing, analytics at SAP, said that while machine learning and automation is predicted to replace certain human tasks, it’s really not emerging to replace us all, instead it’s coming to help users become better at their jobs.

“It’s that idea of harmony,” Banks said. “There’s always an end user group of people involved in working with the machine learning to make it the most effective rather than having the person disappear from the transaction.”

David Judge, vice president, SAP Leonardo at SAP, agreed and said it’s not about replacing people, it’s about removing manual, arbitrary tasks.

Customers may have machine learning teams and are investing heavily in AI, however, the number of companies managing it effectively are still small, said Will Davis, director of product marketing, Trifacta.

“Putting ML into production, trust in ML, and governance of ML are things I’m hearing quite a bit,” Davis said. “The companies mastering that are very few. The businesses out there are two years behind.”

Tendu Yogurtcu, CTO of Syncsort, also felt the same way and said people are asking how to implement machine learning and AI efficiently.

Jeff Veis, SVP of marketing at Actian, sees a variety of trends moving toward cloud, AI, and machine learning, however, he thinks people are moving too fast to the next big thing before solving current issues with existing technologies.

“I think what’s hitting this industry is this convergence of technologies and approaches that are in one sense creating innovation and opportunity but it’s making for a more complex conversation,” Veis said.  “I think the next big challenge will be acting on the edge data. We’re at the early stages of this tapestry of data sources and data consumption models.”

Also observed at Strata Data was the enterprise movement from the science project phase and into productions, explained Nick Halsey, CEO, Zoomdata.

“Two years ago here it was ‘We have a big data project’ and they’re just setting up their platform,” Halsey said. “We’re starting to see those business impacts.”

While ML and AI continue to be pressing topics, Yogurtcu said streaming and the concept of a “data bus” are also rising conversations from customers.