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Nurturing the capabilities of future AI Whisperers

In this article, Alan Jacobson Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Alteryx discusses how in order for the implementation of AI to be successful, organisations need to empower every human member of their business to leverage the technology in the best possible way for maximum impact, and how the role of an analytical AI whisperer will become increasingly important over the coming years.

Over the past months, every industry has been inundated with various applications of artificial intelligence (AI), particularly in the realm of generative AI. As the use of data for making strategic business decisions continues to grow, it creates an optimal setting for AI to deliver data intelligence at a much larger scale. This means that businesses across the world are integrating AI technology into their strategy, products, and operations, tapping in on a new set of opportunities to foster growth and optimise processes to drive efficiency.

On top of the impact that AI will have on business processes, there is also a huge opportunity for technology to have a significant influence on the future development of data-driven cultures within organisations – paving the way for data democracy.  This is having a direct impact on the future skillset of employees due to the accessibility of generative AI and LLMs simplifying the entry into careers in analytics. People with little to no specialist qualifications or background in data analytics are empowered to ask analytical questions and use data to benefit their growth and careers in ways that were not previously considered.

Yet, as we’ve seen with other innovations, regardless of accessibility, the effectiveness of new technologies, relies solely on an organisation’s capability to use them.

Establishing the groundwork for excellence in Generative AI

It’s no secret that AI has quickly become a global sensation, due to the rapid increase in data use across all industries. Recent Alteryx research highlights this trend for AI-driven insights; 89% of companies currently using generative AI reported seeing either substantial (34%) or modest (55%) benefits of the technology. Yet, the true potential of AI can only be realised if high-quality data is paired with a robust analytics culture which enables businesses to make the most out of the data needed to educate it.

A successful data analytics culture will enable not only current employees, but those yet to enter their data analytics career who will require training and support. This is why it is vital that there is a clear understanding from within organisations about the ways to uncover valuable insights from these tools now. Users must ask the right questions, implement the right data techniques to yield helpful outcomes.

So, what skills and roles will lead the pack and ensure everyone can unlock the power of AI?

The new age of data democratisation

For a long time, working with data required technical expertise in various programming languages. However, the path into the world of AI no longer comes directly from a university degree in data science, computer science, nor does it require special training or advanced coding skills.

The expertise needed to build an AI-ready workforce extends beyond mere technical skills. Generative AI introduces innovative approach for business users to solve critical challenges through data, by putting the power of better decision-making in the hands of anyone who needs it.

With accessible, self-service analytics, the reality is that every organisation already has access to talent with the essential knowledge and soft skills needed to unleash generative AI to its full potential. Critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and active listeners can all be empowered through access to data and deliver decision intelligence. These analytics tools simplify data science, democratize AI, and enable anyone to utilize data for business value, right from the get-go.

Fostering the development of future AI specialists

However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure the outputs of generative AI are reliable, secure, and trustworthy. For example, without the right information surrounding the context of the business, or the knowledge of the data used to educate the AI or the domain knowledge to interpret the results, it is difficult to help identify areas for further development while ensuring that the model delivers consistent results and drives real value to the business.

Ensuring precise responses from generative AI requires reliance on datasets that have been crafted through regulated analytics procedures. These datasets should be created by experts with a profound understanding of the data, having undergone upskilling to harness the capabilities of generative AI. These proficient individuals, often referred to as AI Whisperers or Prompt Engineers, can confidently build, train, and deploy AI models across the entire enterprise. Their continuous supervision and analysis of outcomes play a vital role in continually enhancing the models.

Prompts that are correctly inputted are critical in obtaining the desired results from generative AI models, so much so that prompt writing has become an art form. Arguably one of the most important jobs in tech now, Prompt Engineers tend to have a solid background in the area they are working in, in depth understanding of AI technology and a keen eye for detail ensuring quality of AI-generated output. Delivering the decision intelligence required to provide real-time split-second business insights from AI requires prompt engineers who not only understand the underlying business challenges but can translate them into easy-to-use and easy-to-understand prompt text for the generative AI to solve using proper tone and accurate information.

The pivotal shift toward AI success lies with individuals proficient in data management, with a keen business understanding to formulate informed questions, and having the expertise to train generative AI in addressing business challenges. The potential for AI to generate inaccurate results arises when developers lack domain knowledge or domain experts haven’t been adequately trained to harness AI effectively, jeopardizing any company’s strategy to harness these emerging technologies. The organisations that flourish during this time will be the ones that have nurtured and equipped their domain experts with essential critical thinking, domain knowledge, and analytical skills to evolve into the AI Whisperers of the future.

By Alan Jacobson, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Alteryx

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