I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Data & Analytics summit last week. As ever, it was a very interesting and well attended event. 

For me it was an opportunity to get my head around some of the trends and technology enabling (and further enhancing) data management, predictive analytics and AI. 

As is often the case with these things, there is literally too much for one person to consume (especially as it is very difficult to fully switch off from the day job) but there are often some key themes that arise. 

What stood out for me is the amount of automation now available to enable the preparation of data and building of analytical models without code or deep IT literacy. A big focus on business and domain knowledge being key to understand the data.

With this abundance of tools and ease of access to data, data science and insight led decision making, and/or automation, has to become more commonplace in highly data driven industries like insurance. 

Another key theme was the importance of story telling alongside data and analytics. Gartner ran a number of surveys that showed evidence that decision makers often didn’t trust data or went with their gut feel if they were presented with unexpected results and no story/context as to why. A lesson we will take on board with our solutions, but also how we try to convey our opinions or challenge norms in our day to day delivery or when selling/delivering to our clients. 

I also liked, within one of the keynote presentation, reference to a quote from the New York Times in 1933 (see quote below). It highlights that the fear of change and technology is not a new concept, but also that the perspective of complete and utter disruption, where machines take over the world and replace all our jobs, is not new and is quite often sensationalism.

That said, there has been a lot of discussion about how data, AI, automation and machine learning will change certain industries and business practices. However, Gartner presented some interesting statistics and insights that illustrated how the majority of employees who had experience working with such technology had realized that, in most cases, these tools tend to augment rather than replace jobs and also create new opportunities for businesses and individuals... the net effect being that the impact of A.I. and related technologies is positive. 

This is definitely a message that I will ensure we reinforce across our industry as we continue to help our clients concentrate on customer focused outcomes and drive change through the use of technology!