The 2017 AI Summit in NYC: A Meeting of the Minds

December 11, 2017

Squirro at AI Summit

In its 7th edition, the 2017 AI Summit took place this year at the Metropolitan West in New York City. This is a large, two floor event space located across from the Intrepid Museum. At any given moment of the two-day event, from Dec. 5th to the 6th, it was jam-packed with hundreds of individuals. Many were from companies presenting their findings and innovations. The remaining majority of attendees consisted of those deeply interested in a better understanding of what’s possible. With presentations taking place on the 2nd floor and one-on-one conversations on the 1st, there was a lot to take in.

Not only did Squirro have a very inviting space, situated in a perfectly convenient area, we also provided a highly informative presentation. Positioned between the events main entrance and the central “pit,” the Squirro booth had the advantages of being one of the first seen and being in an area with relatively less noise. This allowed for some really great conversations with decision-making representatives. While the subjects being discussed varied, what was most often mentioned was that enterprise search alone is no longer enough. The challenge that’s becoming apparent is in finding meaning and relevant insights from all of this data.

“Enterprise Search alone is no longer enough. The challenge that’s becoming apparent is in finding meaning and relevant insights from all of this data.”

There is no one-size fits-all solution that solves this problem as it’s a moving target. The data is constantly changing; it’s a growing reflection of the environment within which we operate. At the Squirro booth, we discussed how the platform provides an approach to adapt to this challenge. Our primary point made at the event was that only 1% of data is actually being used. The remaining 99% sits unused within the company’s data lake, in structured and unstructured forms. Using Squirro’s insights engine with this 99% of the data allows companies to:

  • Quickly find trends, anomalies, and opportunities
  • Acquire a detailed understanding of customers, partners, and markets
  • Develop predictions and provide recommendations for action to the right people

This information was elegantly summarized during the presentation by Squirro’s Ed Aballa, Director of Sales, and Alex Delin, Solutions Engineer. Speaking on the afternoon of the 5th, they provided an outline of what Squirro can do and how it can do it. There is a certain level of difficulty in explaining this complex solution, which utilizes machine learning and natural language processing, in thirty minutes. Artificial Intelligence is complex and it requires time to understand the various elements that combine to create a progressive solution. Alex and Ed were able to present an understanding that, although not exhaustive, was quite enlightening. This was reflected by the audience members, who often brought it up during our conversations later that day.

AI Summit Presentation

The companies in attendance of the Summit were from a wide array of industries, which included Financial Services, IT Solutions, Education, Retail, and even Renewable Energy. Leaders in each of these fields accumulate mind-boggling amounts of data about their internal environments, their products and services, as well as their customers. The data varies in type, size, format, location, and purpose. While the focus over the past couple of decades has been on the storage and retrieval of some of this data, a vast majority of it is not being used in any way. Many of the people at the AI Summit know that this unused data has value, but the difficulty is in extruding its value in a reasonable manner. Some of the people that we spoke with were surprised to learn just how much of their data can be adding value.

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The AI Summit concluded on the evening of the 6th with drinks and snacks being enjoyed by the crowd. Even at this time, the conversations continued. The excitement over the things learned and the opportunities found continued to drive the discussions. It is obvious that there is much everybody can do to improve the utilization of data with AI, ML, and other technologies. This event was a success in that it brought the companies and the people together attempting to achieve this goal.