Artificial intelligence is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but is now front-and-center in the digital strategies of many organizations. Information Management spoke with Don Schuerman, chief technology officer and vice president of product marketing at Pegasystems, at the Gartner ITxpo conference in Orlando on what for data management and analytics, and how vendor companies are responding.

 

Information Management: What are the most common themes you heard from conference participants?

Don Schuerman: There’s lots of discussion around artificial intelligence and smart agents / virtual assistants. But moreover, they are looking for guidance as to how they can apply AI to their businesses.

With emerging experience channels like chatbots and virtual assistants, enterprises want to satisfy their customers ‘digital expectations’ by connecting them back to their existing CRM and legacy environment.

I’m also still hearing from organizations that continue to struggle to clean up and improve the legacy IT side of the house: data and system consolidation, building processes that cross-silos, filling the white spaces in customer experiences.

 

IM: What are the most common data management and data analytics challenges that organizations are facing?

Schuerman: The biggest challenge I’m hearing: How do I get my data ready for AI? How do I start driving these disruptive, machine-learned insights that are the promise of the future?

Organizations are looking for places to get started and find some immediate value while still maintaining the momentum of ongoing transformative projects, like master data management or building a data lake. We’re also seeing organizations look at ‘bridge’ technologies, like robotic automation, to deliver a quick-and-dirty integration solution while they continue to consolidate and service-enable their backend.

 

IM: What are the most surprising things you heard from attendees?

Schuerman: I’m consistently amazed at the tension between innovation and legacy issues. I was impressed at how quickly people are jumping into creating new experiences and engagement channels, such as chat bots. But at the same time, there is still a lot of focus on managing data silos and cleaning up gaps in systems, which is why I think technologies like robotic automation have been so interesting.

 

IM: What do you view as the top data issues or challenges in 2016 and heading into 2017?

Schuerman: I think most organizations are still not set up to leverage their data as the cornerstone of an AI or real-time decision-making strategy. Gartner’s Peter Sonderberg said that ‘In an AI world, information is the new codebase,’ and I think that organizations are looking to get their data in line for that. They are also trying to figure out where to start.

I talked to one client that is try to figure out how to take a database with thousands of fields and begin to derive insights from that. The technology isn’t at the point that you can just throw a bunch of data at it and expect insights to magically appear on the other side.

 

IM: How do these themes and challenges relate to your company’s market strategy this year?

Schuerman: We continue to invest in machine learning and predictive analytics capabilities to help our clients drive better customer engagement and operational excellence. Our Pega Customer Decision Hub product will continue to be central to our CRM applications for marketing, sales and customer service and will become more prominent in use cases such as Care Management, aftermarket servicing and the IoT.

We will be expanding our data connectivity, especially to streaming data, such as devices and sensors, and being able to drive real time decisions off of those data streams.

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