Data Summit 2024 Keynotes Examine this New Era of AI

Doug Laney opened Data Summit 2024 with a look at Infonomics in the era of AI. Laney, innovation fellow, data and analytics strategy, West Monroe, and Author of Infonomics and Data Juice, visiting professor at University of Illinois Gies College of Business, shared insights from his best-selling book, Infonomics, about how organizations can actually treat information as an enterprise asset.

The annual Data Summit conference returned to Boston, May 8-9, 2024, with pre-conference workshops on May 7.

“Data is the driver of the economy today as much as oil has been in the last century or so, but data has unique attributes oil doesn’t have,” Laney said.

The original idea for Infonomics rose from the data lost from the 9/11 attacks, Laney explained, data was not recognized as property or an asset at the time.

And now, IT and business executives frequently talk about information as one of their most important assets. But few behave as if it is. Even today, executives report on their financials, their customers, and their partnerships, but rarely the health of their data assets.

And corporations typically exhibit greater discipline in managing and accounting for their office furniture than their data.

The arrival of generative AI (GenAI) is sparking a discussion of how to adopt AI in measuring, monetizing, and managing data assets.

“If you’re not measuring it, you’re not getting value from that asset,” Laney said. “Increasingly, AI is the primary enabler of data monetization.”

The process for monetizing data breaks down into three phases: generating ideas, developing and testing ideas, and engineering/building the data product or infrastructure.

“It represents a very familiar production approach,” Laney said. “I’m not about reinventing the wheel; it’s about readapting the wheel.”

Companies are asking how they can use generative AI to hypothesize the monetary value of the information they have.

Some use case examples include Walmart revamping its search engine to recognize keywords and social media trends more accurately; Infinity Insurance training its system to identify key markers of fraud within claims; Lockheed Martin assessing documentation and communications to identify issues earlier; and more.

Following Laney’s keynote, Dhruv Jain, co-founder and chief product officer, Acante and Abhishek Das, co-founder and VP, engineering, Acante, discussed how organizations should secure their AI applications and the critical data they are feeding into these systems to ensure compliance and prevent damaging data leaks.

“It’s probably an understatement to say we are in the age of AI,” Jain said.

Despite the massive investment seen in AI only one-third are close to production with these projects, he explained. The top pain point is security, and it only increases for companies with more than 500 employees.

These security problems are found within the data layer, Jain said. Acante offers a possible solution for this.

LLMs are the new era for natural language processing, Das said. These foundational models have evolved to be attuned more for specific needs in order to avoid hallucinations.

To unlock the value of proprietary data, Das noted, companies can use prompt engineering, RAG, or fine-tuning AI models. AI risks start from this proprietary data. Acante maps security standards with its technology to protect this data.

Felicia Perez, managing director of information as a product, National Student Clearinghouse, closed out the first day’s series of keynotes with her presentation, “How to Create a Collaborative Platform for Data Management and Governance.”

She discussed how National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) created an operational MDM platform, giving access to a large volume of streamlined, high-quality data.

With billions of records, a legacy IT system, and an enterprise focus on moving to the cloud, NSC focused on modernization for the cloud data ecosystem, adhering to compliance regulations and enhancing matching across the enterprise.

NSC is now armed with a single platform, powered by Semarchy, to support and facilitate customer requests with one source of truth while benefiting from a collaborative hub for data management and governance.

“Having these great UIs and pulling information they want to know, is crucial,” Perez said. “The more we can bring data in the enterprise in one place, the more we can serve our academic community.”

Many Data Summit 2024 presentations are available for review at