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May 21, 2024

Informatica CEO: Good Data Management Not Optional for AI


The big data era may have started a decade-and-a-half ago, but for many companies, it’s the current AI revolution that’s forcing them to finally get serious about data management, says Informatica CEO Amit Walia. “What is AI without good quality data?” he says.

Data is the foundation for a host of corporate efforts these days, and that realization is leading many companies to renew their interest in establishing a comprehensive data management strategy, Walia told Datanami last week in advanced of Informatica World, which takes place in Las Vegas this week.

“The driver is all of these digital initiatives that are requiring more and more data management,” the Informatica CEO said. “The number of use cases are exploding and they are all data-driven.”

Generative AI is the headliner for many of these corporate initiatives. Companies are eager to implement large language models (LLMs) across a number of use cases, but as they begin projects, they’re finding that their data estates aren’t ready to support their GenAI initiatives, Walia said.

The importance of good data management came up on a call that Walia had with the CDIO of a very large company that he did not identify.

“She said, in the GenAI world, what has helped her is that the value of data management is becoming more front and center,” Walia said. “Board room discussions are about, hey is my data good quality? Am I bringing the right amount of data for my LLM to be smart? Those things didn’t happen five years ago. That’s happening.”

Amit Walia took over the CEO job at Informatica in January 2020

Informatica is unique among data management companies in that it offers a single platform that addresses the full range of management and governance needs. Its flagship offering, Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC), delivers data integration, application integration, data quality, data governance, data mastering, data catalogs, and data privacy, all in a single product.

Having a single platform brings advantages to customers, Walia said. They don’t have to stitch together a disparate and disconnected group of data management capabilities, for starters. “It’s derisking. It’s time to value,” the Informatica CEO said. “Customers don’t want to waste time bringing things together. They want to go quickly.”

But customers adopting the IDMC–which Walia said recently processed 92 trillion transactions in a month–won’t be giving up any capabilities by not going with a best-of-breed approach, he said, because Informatica is best-of-breed.

“We’re not just a platform for the sake of a platform,” he said. “All of the product capabilities that sit on the platform are number one by innovation, whether you look at the Gartner Magic Quadrant, whether you look at the Forrester Wave.”

Informatica is making a slew of announcements at its show this week. The biggest may be the general availability of CLAIRE GPT, the company’s LLM assistant that it announced a year ago. Informatica has imbued CLAIRE GPT across the full spectrum of data management capabilities in IDMC with the goal of helping users move faster with their AI and data analytics tasks.

For instance, Informatica will showcase how a healthcare provider that tested an early version of CLAIRE GPT got benefits from the software.

Source: Informatica

“You can use natural language to do complex SQL, complex data management activities,” Walia said. “So the customer could ask the question, Where is the mission-critical equipment? Where is my staffing?….Things like that you can do a lot faster, a lot better and that’s the kind of stuff we’re seeing customers do with CLAIRE GPT.”

Informatica also announced a deeper integration with Snowflake that will see Informatica providing its SQL-powered ELT capabilities natively in Snowflake’s data cloud.

“From ingestion, integration and governance to now providing greater context and accuracy for the latest generative AI use cases, our partnership and collective mindshare continue to reset the bar of what’s possible,” Rik Tamm-Daniels, group vice president of strategic ecosystems and alliances at Informatica, said in a press release.

The Redwood City, California company is also expanding its partnership with Microsoft by hooking IDMC more deeply into Microsoft Fabric.

“The combination of Microsoft’s data analytics capability of Microsoft Fabric and Informatica’s AI-powered IDMC platform will unlock tremendous new potential for our customers’ analytics and AI workloads,” Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud + AI Group at Microsoft said in a press release.

All customers will have something in their data architecture that makes them unique. Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase are both banks, but “they look at data in their own ways,” Walia said. What’s special about Informatica is that it can work with customers no matter what type of data architecture they have, and deliver the data management and governance capabilities they need.

“We fit into your reference architecture, and I think that’s what’s changing people’s minds,” he said. “That is what is opening up customers eyes versus I have a mesh or I have a fabric.”

Access control is another aspect to data management that’s seeing renewed interest amid the rush to develop GenAI. A data catalog will show users what data is available, while associated data governance capabilities will either grant or deny users access to that data. That’s also piquing interest in Informatica’s soup-to-nuts data management suite, Walia said.

“Even when you democratize data through a GPT interface, data access management becomes very important. Who is getting access to what data and how granular? So data access management is part of data governance in a catalog. Those all things become start becoming more important,” he said.

“What I’m beginning to see something very transformational,” Walia concluded. “Data management is becoming a business process in itself. Without that business process, there is no other process that can get value. I’ve seen that change come by.”

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