Seth Rao, CEO of FirstEigen, speaks with Sreeram Potukuchi, Director of Enterprise Data at Republic Services and CDO Magazine Editorial Board Member, in a video interview about deciding the priority for organizations, deployment, and role of data trust monitors, the prime organizational skill sets for data trustability, the powerful human-AI combination, and real-world consequences of using inaccurate data.
FirstEigen is a technology company. It offers a range of services, including data analytics, natural language processing, computer vision, and predictive modeling.
Rao begins the conversation by stating that when it comes to being proactive towards bad decisions, every organization is in a different state.
The question for the organization to ask, says Rao, is which problem is the highest priority and whether the right decisions are being taken to solve the problem effectively. Delving further, he shares an instance of a financial services company sharing its data access with the data science team, which then finds multiple errors leading to inaccurate predictions.
Therefore, depending on the organizational status, it is best to figure out the most critical activity, whether it is looking at customer data for growth or supply chain data to minimize cost.
Then, Rao urges organizations to ensure that their data is trustable and have trust monitors deployed in the pipelines from the start, to increase predictability of the outcomes.
When asked if it would ever be possible for organizations to shift focus from trust monitors, he reiterates the nuclear power plant example. According to Rao, no one can turn the pressure sensors off in a nuclear power plant, even if they have been doing it for 30 years.
Similarly, the trust must be monitored throughout the pipeline, and it should be very low-touch, and should automatically understand when something is right or wrong.
However, Rao highlights the issue of possible alert fatigue and explains that it’s because while the data evolved, the rules to validate data did not. Moving on, he states that monitoring should happen below the surface and one should only be alerted when things go wrong.
Further, Rao affirms that monitoring and alerting is a continuous process since the data pipelines are constantly changing and one wrong thing can lead to data leaking. He refers to a data trust monitor as an insurance policy that would ensure that the data on the other end is correct.
Moving forward, he shifts the focus to two key organizational skill sets:
Data stewards who can recommend how to check the data.
Extensive IT Team to convert all data requirements into IT codes while regularly updating them
Referring to DataBuck (FirstEigen’s data validation and monitoring tool) in this context, Rao states that DataBuck does all of it autonomously, and much of the coding has also been automated. He explains that after looking at the data, it automatically creates a fingerprint, and assesses the expected behavior to consider its trustworthiness.
However, says Rao, once there is a red flag, the final feedback is taken from the data steward. He then stresses that the needed skill set still is the data steward who understands the data and who can guide the software. The software will not replace humans, rather, it is a powerful combination of humans and AI-ML, says Rao.
When asked about real-world consequences of risk mismanagement, he mentions Octopus Energy in the UK, where due to data errors, a woman was billed wrongly which led her to being £6,000 in debt.
Adding another example, Rao recalls how recently Wells Fargo Bank had US$ 5 billion in excess capital reserve that could not be loaned out due to inaccurate data.
In the next example, he discusses the case of Danske Bank overcharging customers for mortgages where the bank had to apologize and return the money. It is evident that it impacts revenue, customer confidence, loss of trust in the company, and loss of brand loyalty.
To solve the issue, Rao advises organizations to understand the root causes and deploy trust monitors throughout pipelines.
Seth Rao | CEO of FirstEigen
In conclusion, he says that organizational growth depends on making accurate decisions faster and it is only possible if the decisions are based on trusted data.
CDO Magazine appreciates Seth Rao for sharing his insights with our global community.