Catherine Dhanjal Perfect Information Conference sparks AI and API discussions
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By Catherine Dhanjal

Abstract

The applications for artificial intelligence and APIs were just some of the highlights of this year's Perfect Information Conference, finds Jinfo's head of content, Catherine Dhanjal.

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I was delighted to attend the Perfect Information Conference again this year - as per last year it was thought-provoking and inspiring - and this year we heard from leaders in fields from artificial intelligence (AI) to management consultancy.

Our own director of research, Robin Neidorf, opened the conference with one of the keynotes, and topics tackled included AI, APIs, unmet needs in the information job market and running truly global information teams. 

The artificial intelligence strand was tackled by three speakers: Marc Vollenweider of Evalueserve (read the Q&A with Jinfo), Anton Fishman of Fishman & Partners and Nicolas Bombourg of ReportLinker (read the Q&A with Jinfo). 

Marc cautioned, "Whenever you have lots of data you need automation, whenever you need insights you need humans." He added, "Small data is beautiful too - you can achieve very good ROI on small data projects."

Anton highlighted the "extraordinary" advances made over the past two years and that we now have a "perfect storm of converging technologies" including natural language programming, machine vision, neural nets and openAI initiatives.

Nicolas gave examples of AI in use in daily life (Amazon, Spotify), company life (robotics, chatbots) and pointed out that for business information it's the variety of data and the unstructured data that presents the greatest challenge for AI. 

APIs and data feeds were tackled in a breakout session chaired by Amanda Quinlan of Oliver Wyman. "APIs make content come in like a water faucet and you need to think about how you're going to direct and manipulate that," commented one participant. Another added, "We're often required to make a business case when purchasing or a use-case to the vendor so they can price but it's not easy to get people to tell you exactly what they want, they often can't envisage it."

Jantinus Meints of EY presented a case study on how EY is managing its global and agile working environment, involving centralising the information team and budgets.

This was a complex task with 800 knowledge workers across 30 countries with skills from deep local level knowledge to licensing content and vendors selling to EY on both a local and central level. It took a couple of years to decide what would be managed locally and what globally - and how to move the management from strong local reporting lines to a global reporting structure with a local touch and local point of contact. Dividing the vendors into strategic partners and "others" was also a complex exercise, involving reassessing stakeholder sign off and invoicing procedures

In a breakout session, Jinfo's own Amy Burns led on "Leadership: staff management and motivation". Attendees participated in an interactive team building exercise that exemplified what can happen in an information services department when you are missing any one of the key components of the right tools, clear guidance and strong leaders who are willing to communicate. The lively session concluded with a series of take-home templates and reference material to give attendees resources to apply the skills in their own organisations.

In a timely keynote, General Counsel's Conan D'Arcy discussed "Brexit's politics, process and policy". The audience learned that Brexit does not necessarily just mean Brexit. Anyone in our industry who trades with other countries, advises clients who do, works in a multinational organisation or works/advises government entities will potentially be impacted by Brexit.


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