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6 Essential Capabilities for Successful Generative AI Implementation

At AWS re:Invent 2023, GenAI took center stage in CEO Adam Selipsky’s keynote address. In order to harness the power of Generative AI, it’s crucial to navigate potential pitfalls and avoid the classic “garbage-in, garbage-out” scenario that often plagues AI models. A recent McKinsey study projects GenAI will add a staggering $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion in value to the economy. However, it also highlights that over 90% of data created in the future will be unstructured.

Traditional data integration patterns are ill-equipped for the unstructured nature of data required for GenAI. Typically this data ranges from videos and chats, to code and documents.

This underscores the unprecedented opportunities presented by GenAI, but also the need for meticulous preparation with systems, processes, and tools tailored for the unique task. 

To ensure success adopting GenAI, focus on the following capabilities:

1. Pinpoint your Use Cases

GenAI caters to a diverse array of use cases. Rather than adopting a vague approach, meticulously decide and plan for specific use cases tailored to your business. McKinsey’s AI use case mapping for banking serves as an excellent example, illustrating the vast range of applications and routes available across feasibility and impact.

2. Choose your Data Tools 


Data is the fuel behind the GenAI machine, and not having the right tools will cost your organization time and money. After all, the landscape is evolving quickly, and the use cases could be different in just a few quarters. Evaluate data tools for flexibility, and ensure it has features to handle personally identifiable information (PII) for any use case with private or sensitive data. Most of the time, purchasing flexible tools that are made for the job will save time and money rather than attempting to build from scratch in-house. McKinsey offers an illustrative data architecture with some sample components to enable AI:

Within your data architecture, ensure components to implement the five key components of a data architecture built for AI:

  • Unstructured data stores: Map out all unstructured data sources and ensure metadata tagging practices are present to make it easy for teams to find and use data
  • Data preprocessing: Data will almost always need to be prepared with clean up, changing formats, and hashing out PII before being used by Generative AI. Ensure data tools are present in your stack that make it easy for anyone to do these tasks
  • Vector databases: Vectorizing data involves turning words and text into numerical representations. Vector databases are built to store and access this kind of data, which can then be fed directly into new models or tuning existing ones.
  • LLM framework integrations: Ensure your stack can connect with the various required integrations for different LLMs which will require different prompt templates and types of data connection.
  • Prompt engineering: Manage integrations of understandings of your data to effectively engineer prompts to elicit the best response from your AI models. These prompts require the context of your business and data tools that are able to understand and deliver that context for your specific use case.


3. Map out Data Governance 


Before undertaking GenAI initiatives, map out a data governance policy appropriate for your data and business. Ensure a plan exists to acquire tools to help track and search data lineage, and prioritize transparency in data flows and movement that feed into AI models to clearly see what data is being used and where. This will also aid in triaging hallucinations and model drift in AI when we can see what data is being used to train those models. A plan will also need to be in place to handle sensitive data and PII, with automatic PII detection and tools to hash and hide sensitive data along the way before allowing AI models and other stakeholders to view. Finally, metadata tagging and tracking will also factor into data governance, emphasizing the importance of being able to find and track the movement and lineage of all your data across a variety of flows.


4. Decide on Storage 


At enterprise scale, data storage becomes a key decision that can cost millions of dollars with the wrong fit, or enable incredible discoverability, collaboration, and accessibility in the right fit. Data for GenAI models is rarely in the nice and neat rows and columns of relational databases, so data storage that fits with your specific data that can be efficiently called and accessed is crucial. For data storage, also think about timing – is it important for your AI use cases to update in real-time? In that case, what storage and data movement capabilities are suited to real-time updating of models? Across all data stores, metadata tagging and cataloging will aid greatly in mapping the data journey and so teams can find the data they need.


5. Decide on a Data Ingestion and Movement Pattern


Plan and acquire tools and platforms to move all that data in-between your data storage, producers, and AI models efficiently and easily. With AI in particular, unstructured data will make things more complicated than traditional ETL/ELT platforms can handle. Besides the format issues of data for AI, the velocity of data will also play a part if there are any use cases that require freshness of data up to real-time. Select a data flow building platform carefully that is able to handle unstructured data, connect to all your data storage solutions and output LLMs or other models, and works with whatever speed the use case calls for.


6. Measure Progress and Value

Finally throughout this initiative, it’s crucial to monitor GenAI’s impact for stakeholders. This tracking and measurement will not only demonstrate its value but also provide insights for future AI experiments. Continued measurement will help identify the most valuable components within your company’s data processes for AI.


Next steps


GenAI can significantly impact your business. Effective integration from the outset while focusing on the capabilities mentioned, is crucial for success. This proactive approach ensures AI use cases are valuable and functional, avoiding the pitfalls of a “garbage-in, garbage-out” scenario.


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