The Road to AI Success: Your Data and Your Team

Start with data and watch generative AI transform your business.

In recent months, Salesforce surveyed more than 10,000 analytics, IT, and line-of-business leaders across the world. The findings compiled in the State of Data and Analytics report speak to the challenges leaders face today and uncover where they’re focusing their energy to maximize the power of their data. 

Based on the conversations I have with customers, I’m not surprised that 87% of analytics and IT leaders say advances in AI make data management a high priority. To be clear, it’s not that data hasn’t been a priority in the past. But because data maturity is foundational to successful AI adoption, businesses now have no choice but to get their data house in order. 

Harnessed correctly, generative AI increases inclusivity and agency, inviting more people into conversations that have historically been for specialized professionals. Take ChatGPT, for example. With this innovative tool, everyone can create powerful written content. When it comes to analytics, generative AI will empower everyone—not just data people—with the data they need to make decisions. Access to contextual, natural language insights will support data democratization.

The desire to tap into this technology is understandable—businesses that use generative AI will be able to work more efficiently and personalize customer experiences. So where do they begin? To reap the benefits of AI, companies need secure and trusted data and a team equipped with data skills. 

Build a foundation of trust

The research found that 92% of analytics and IT decision-makers say trusted data is needed more than ever. What does this really mean? It means people need confidence that the data they’re using is clean, accurate, and up-to-date. Only 57% of data and analytics leaders are completely confident in their data. Line of business departments are even more skeptical, with an average of 43% completely trusting their data. And if you can’t trust the data you’re inputting, you can’t trust the output the AI generates. 

At Tableau, trusted and secure data isn’t new to us. Our suite of data and analytics tools:

  • Allows users to set helpful metadata with descriptions and certifications so they can find what they’re looking for
  • Notifies users of data quality warnings
  • Provides lineage so users always know where the data came from and how users are interacting with it
  • Offers row-level security to set parameters on who can see different types of data 
 A data visualization of the need for trusted data where 92% of analytics and IT leaders agree the need for trusted data is higher than ever.
Ninety-two percent of analytics and IT leaders agree the need for trusted data is higher than ever. 

But now, we’re at an inflection point. The introduction of generative AI adds new complexity to building trust. Layering upon our years of experience, we’ve created new guardrails to guide us as we explore the possibilities of generative AI: 

  • Transparency. We provide a visual indicator whenever one of our products uses generative AI.
  • Powerful insights platform. We use statistical algorithms (deterministic analysis) to run calculations. Then we use generative AI to summarize those insights in plain language.
  • Your data is not our product. The Einstein Trust Layer ensures none of your customer data is stored outside of the Salesforce trust boundary, and it is not used for large language model (LLM) training.
  • Toxicity detection. Our models are built and trained to avoid generating content that is hateful, inappropriate, violent, and biased.
  • Humans in the feedback loop. Users can provide feedback on AI-generated insights to help improve the model.

Setting up your organization with trusted data and guardrails for generative AI is just the first step in capitalizing on more significant impact and efficiencies. To fully realize this value, you’ll need the right team of people behind the technology. 

Equip your people with data skills 

In the AI area, a thriving data culture will be a competitive differentiator. Respondents in the survey listed things like greater productivity, innovation, and better customer service as benefits of a strong data culture. And 75% of analytics and IT leaders plan to invest more in training and development compared to last year. This is essential because while AI will make our lives easier in a lot of ways, people need data skills so they can discern if the generated results are ethical and accurate. AI outputs are only as valuable as the data inputs, so fostering a data culture with employees who can talk confidently about data, know how to use it, and learn how to spot potential problems will reap more benefits. With a solid data foundation, everyone can benefit from deeper and faster data analysis and natural language insights. 

A data visualization of the top barriers and benefits of a strong data culture. The number one barrier is privacy and security concerns, followed by data quality issues, limited budget, insufficient data analysis tools, and insufficient training. The number one benefit is greater productivity followed by innovation, better customer service, confident decision-making, and cost savings/fast decision-making. The top five barriers and benefits of a strong data culture.

This is where analysts come in. I see a huge opportunity for our analyst community to pave the way to AI adoption. Even though it might not feel like it, now is when specialists can be more relevant than ever. Let’s go back to the ChatGPT example from earlier. ChatGPT empowers everyone to be a writer, but we still need professional writers to guide content strategy, edit the work, and add a human touch. Similarly, as new data and AI tools, like Tableau Pulse, come to market, business users will need help configuring the technology and learning how to use it. Ultimately, after analysts prepare business users with the necessary data skills and tools, they’ll have more time to partner with business leaders and tackle challenges. It’s crucial business leaders give analysts a seat at the table to help shape an analytics strategy that will position the company for success. 

Move forward with Tableau 

If positioning your organization to reap the benefits of generative AI feels daunting, you’re not alone. Start with your data. From there, our suite of tools, our team, and our community will help you move forward. We are committed to helping you build trust and confidence in your data, skill up your people, and find success—whatever that means to your business. 

Discover data tactics for the age of AI 

Download the State of Data and Analytics report to learn more about the strategies and tactics leaders are using to navigate the AI era. 

State of Data and Analytics

*All statistics in this blog are from the 2023 State of Data and Analytics report.