Most large companies and asset managers understand the potential of using big data, in conjunction with technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. However, creating practical, truly useful solutions in this space remains a big challenge.
That was the theme of a session called Humans and Machines: The Next Generation, held at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (CAIS20), taking place in the Cayman Islands this week (February 6-7). The session was moderated by Devin Banerjee, senior financial services editor, Linkedin.
Christina Qi, founding partner at Domeyard, said many companies end up investing money and resources in this sphere, without first fully grasping what they are trying to achieve.
“FOMO [fear of missing out] is a big thing in this sector,” she said. “You get a CEO saying the business needs to do something in this space and they go and hire a bunch of smart people and just tell them to make something happen. But with no direction or strategy, that never works out. It is like anything else, whether it is crypto or ESG (environmental, social and governance), it would be irresponsible to do anything just for the sake of it with no purpose or strategy behind it.”
Running a hedge fund, Qi said she is regularly pitched by start-ups looking to sell datasets they claim are valuable, but which is often of poor quality. Where it is not, she always asks: “Why are you selling it if it is that valuable?”
The transition from raw data to extrapolating true value is rarely easy or fast, she stressed.
Caroline Sherman, managing director at Quantopian, agreed that every firm understands the need to be better at using data, especially in the context of so much new data being created every day in every sphere of life.
“We know that 90 percent of data has been created in the past two years – this is an incredible time to be working with data,” she said. But the volume of data can be overwhelming, she said. “People are hiring people like data scientists who seem to have the relevant skills but there remain real hurdles to leveraging that data effectively in a business context. How do you clean it and look at it intelligently and get to the point you are turning that information into intellectual property for your firm?”
Jessica Stauth, managing director of Fidelity Labs, said companies often pursue innovation for the sake of it, rather than for a tangible business goal. She said three things are needed for a positive outcome: good data, talent and use cases.
Finally, Mark Jackson, scientific lead of business development at Cambridge Quantum Computing, discussed the advances that have been made in quantum technology and their implications for the world of business. Quantum computing will become increasingly important in the future, he said, advising the investment sector to keep track of developments, especially around cyber security in this space.
CAIS20, Domeyard, AI, Quantum computing, Christina Qi, Cayman Islands