According to Greg Hanson, vice president of business operations at Informatica, because data is becoming a competitive differentiator in the marketplace, there is a strong business case for the fast delivery of high-quality data, which CLAIRE is intended to provide. “What’s really new is the amount of artificial intelligence and machine learning that we’ve built into the platform,” said Hanson.
“The quicker we can deliver high-quality data, either to machines to make decisions or to individuals to introduce new products or services, for example, the more it will drive the customer experience of an organisation and, ultimately, drive profitability,” he said.
The AI in the platform can automatically identify and classify what kind of data the business user might want to process, explained Hanson. “Imagine a raw format of data gets delivered, be it a person, product or location. Just by looking at it, our intelligent platform can immediately start to classify what type of data it is from previous experience of metadata,” he said.
He went on to say that, based on training in how people generally deal with that type of data, CLAIRE can automate the integration of data into an organisation. “So it avoids humans having to build engine mapping to get at the data from raw source formats,” he said.
Automating the data integration process is going to be increasingly important, said Hanson, as the volume of data generated increases. According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Hanson said that CLAIRE could be used in all industries, from financial services to manufacturing, to process machine-based data, internet of things data, standard interchanges between businesses, web clicks and transactions. CLAIRE is also able to handle unstructured data, like messages from social media or Word documents.
He said that one use case is security and fraud. For example, a user may be extracting or downloading data in a way they’ve never done previously. “The artificial intelligence layer is monitoring behaviour. When it sees behaviour that is outside the norm, like a specific user extracting a lot of data or delivering data to a different location, that could be automatically identified and provided to the appropriate person who should act upon that potential risk,” said Hanson.
Informatica beleives that unified metadata and AI could be a fundamental part of helping organisations to manage upcoming challenges like GDPR. “The first challenge with complying with the Regulation is, ‘where is my data?’ If you don’t even know where your data is, how can you answer the challenge of identifying risks in customer data or measuring customer consent? You can’t do that unless you’ve a mechanism to manage that centrally - and that is what CLAIRE is providing,” he said.
The platform can be used to help B2C companies create a single customer view using its master data management services. “Once we’ve categorised what is customer data, you can then use the mastering services of the intelligent platform to create a single customer view as well.”
In terms of the types of people CLAIRE will assist, data management professionals are at the top of the list. “With the automation of all the integration and management of data, it will help business users like analysts, who currently don’t have access to data,” said Hanson. “We can accelerate the delivery of high-quality data direct to business users - data stewards, data analysts, data scientists - who are crying out for that data right now.”
In his view, this is especially important as he has seen a push towards self-service. He said that, normally, a business user would contact the IT department and ask for a report or an extract of data, but that this approach is becoming less common. “The artificial intelligence that we have as part of the platform will enable business users to access data directly. CLAIRE can also help to categorise, index and store data and then provide a business user interface to get data in a self-service manner,” he said.
CLAIRE also provides “an intelligent search engine which is business user-friendly,” said Hanson. It can integrate metadata from any asset in the organisation, whether it be ERP system, a database or via ETL from other sources. He said that business users would then be able to provide data on, for example, the top ten customers or customer churn. “And the Google-style interface would say, ‘OK, I understand what you are asking for, so let me suggest what the best formats of data or datasets would be for you to answer those queries’.”
Hanson claims that CLAIRE is innovative because previous releases of Informatica unified metadata within the platform, whereas, with the new platform, a layer of artificial intelligence and machine learning have been placed on top. It was given its name because the engine is almost “clairvoyant” in terms of predicting what people should do with data on the automation side. (It is also just an acronym for Cloud-scale artificial intelligence-powered, real-time engine.)
“Digital transformation is real and it’s here and organisations certainly need to take steps on that journey. Organisations want deeper customer relationships. But the only thing that differentiates an online retailer like Amazon is the experience you have on its digital platform - and high-quality data drives that experience,” said Hanson.