There was an interesting article in today’s US print edition of the Wall Street Journal. It was titled, Wall Street Analysts Are Selling More Data. The article explains how increasingly investment firms are collecting more data streams, much from new and even unconventional sources, and packaging the data up and selling it on to their clients.
What was included in the article, inside the column and not implied by the article title, was the point that those same investment firms were selling much less research. Under the previous model (if that’s the word to use), such firms would buy data and financial analysts would pour over the data, think hard, draw conclusions and insights, and sell those insights to clients. Now the value of financial research is falling and the value of raw data is rising.
Yet another point, hidden further inside the article, is that we are not only talking of raw data increasing in value. Some of that raw data is what we might call packaged insight. In other words, an analytic or algorithm is applied to the data so that the client licenses the data and an additional analytics to go with it. So it’s not just raw data. Some of the repeatable human-driven analysis is now packaged and applied (and sold) as an analytic.
Gartner has been talking about augmented intelligence (man and machine working together) during this year’s IT/Expo keynotes around the world. Augmented intelligence is powered by augmented analytics (analytics and analysis built on increasingly more sophisticated use of various AI techniques such as deep neural networks or machine learning). In fact, augmented analytics is a major step forward in the world of analytics – see Augmented Analytics Is the Future of Data and Analytics and Build Your Digital Business Platform Around Data and Analytics for how such advanced analytics will in time drive improved decision making.
What is happening with the firms in this article is really at the low to middle end of this idea. Financial firms are still doing some ‘augmented intelligence’ but initially the greater value is with the data itself, augmented by some packaged intelligence. As AI matures, more and more centaurs (as my colleague Svetlana Sicular calls them) will emerge: people who lead the charge at merging their own/best skills to those of machines, and the result will be superior insight over the individual human or individual computer.
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