revAlation 2023 Recap: Empowering a Brighter Data Future
By Anthony Zumpano
Published on November 21, 2023
The future is bright — and will be powered by data.
That was the theme at this year’s revAlation, the conference series that explores what’s next in data intelligence — from generative AI and data governance to self-serve analytics and cloud transformation.
Here’s a recap of this year’s events, which spanned the globe from London to Chicago to Sydney.
London: Engaging EMEA customers
The first revAlation stop in London introduced ALLIE AI, which builds on Alation’s machine learning (ML) capabilities to deliver intelligent curation and search to extract value from their data faster. ALLIE AI is “a big game changer as far as data catalog curation is concerned within organizations,” said Mohit Sirpal, a data governance specialist from Interac, a Toronto-based financial services firm. “Auto-curation, semantic search, auto-titling, and auto-descriptions will surely enable organizations to save time and scale data initiatives more quickly, democratize trusted data, and advance new AI initiatives.”
David Reed, Chief Knowledge Officer and Data Evangelist at DataIQ, moderated “The Power of Data: Perspectives from Visionary Minds,” a panel consisting of Alation customers Sanjeevan Bala from ITV, Loretta Franks from Kellanova, and Steve Pimblett from The Very Group. Franks discussed the challenge of balancing AI-based innovation with evolving regulations and compliance, describing her organizaton’s initiative called SPEED (Security, Privacy and Ethics across Enterprise Data). “We want to make sure the business doesn't feel like governance and compliance is anchored to pace,” she said, “but at the same time, strengthening the fact that we are here to enable it so that, as you deploy these tools, you're confident they’re built in a compliant way.”
Pimblett shared the “top-down, bottom-up approach” to leveraging AI to accommodate the changes in consumer retail behavior, which categorizes the “action” of AI into “productivity of our staff, brand-new propositions for the customer, and better decisions at scale.”
ITV became an Alation customer earlier this year, and Bala marveled at our “incredible” engagement, which included involving both the data governance teams and the business units, which fostered enterprise-wide adoption.
At an Active Data Governance breakout session, Vattenfall data governance lead Sebastian Kaus compared data governance to a long shopping experience. Sometimes when you wade through a large retail store, you find yourself buying more than you expected. These stores often have food courts to help people recharge and boost their spirits before they depart.
Data leaders would do well to borrow this lesson, Kaus advised, to make sure your data governance plan includes awards and recognition for the people involved in the heavy lifting required.
The closing keynote from Jon Eklöf, CDO of GKN Aerospace, analyzed what makes data programs successful — the people who run them. Eklöf declared that people need to feel safe to deliver their best. By seeing the leadership buy-in and success of an organization’s existing programs, they’re more confident to take the lead on future data programs.
In addition, the following organizations were honored with Data Radicals Awards for leading the charge in driving data culture:
Sainsbury’s received the Data Radical Award for industry excellence, which was accepted by Jade Jones, the company’s metadata and data quality manager.
GKN Aerospace received the Governance Groundbreaker Award for exceptional work in data governance; the award was accepted by the organization’s global graduate engineer, Rasmus Arvidson.
Vattenfall won the Culture Creator Award for their commitment to fostering a robust data culture that emphasizes the importance of connecting people with data; the award was accepted by Kaus.
Chicago: Putting data first in the Second City
The Windy City welcomed attendees to a two-day event that began with pre-conference training in active data governance. The first official day kicked off with the keynote “Transform Your Business with Data-Driven Strategies,” delivered by Katie Bogenschutz, VP of Enterprise Data Management, Kroger/84.51.
Bogenschutz described the importance of data both internally and externally. “We take customer data to make a more personalized and valuable experience for customers in our store,” she said. “Technology was previously in the background, but now we partner with the business to have a seat at the table and drive change.” She described a unified data strategy that aligns data producers with data consumers.
This alignment extended to customers in the product keynote “Chart the Future of Your Data Intelligence Journey: Alation Platform Vision and Roadmap.” Alation CTO Junaid Saiyed and Prabhath Nanisetty, Head of Industry, Retail Data & Technology, Snowflake, lauded the importance of meeting customers where they are and emphasized a customer-centric approach to ensure their needs and preferences are addressed. This approach is strengthened by the partnership between Alation and Snowflake, which serves more than 250 joint customers.
Cleo Haynal, Senior Director, GTM Strategy and Operations, Alation, and Beth Senay, Director, Data Trust & Enablement, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) led the business breakout “How to Assess Your Organization's Data Maturity.” Beth described how the Alation Data Culture Maturity Model, which assesses data leadership, data search & discovery, data literacy, and data governance, “helps you break down silos in your organization.”
Haynal assured attendees to not be overwhelmed if they uncover deficiencies in their maturity pillars. “As you’re learning English, you don’t jump directly to Shakespeare,” she said. “With data literacy, you don’t throw Shakespearean data at your organizations to start.” She stressed building your organization’s data literacy first.
CHOP was also honored with a Data Radicals Award “for being a trailblazer that’s transforming the data landscape.” Alation CEO Satyen Sangani presented the award to Beth and Shakeeb Akhter, CHCIO, CDH-E, CHOP’s Chief Digital and Information Officer. "I cannot speak highly enough about the Alation team and our partnerships to build a product together," Shakeeb said.
Sydney: Driving data-driven success Down Under
One veteran of several industry events declared that revAlation in Sydney was “definitely the best event this year,” appreciating the focus on business users, not just technical sessions. One example of this was our product keynote, “Chart the Future of Your Data Intelligence Journey,” where Alation’s Solutions Engineering Manager Murali Krishnamurthy and Director of Professional Services Leandra Siedor revealed our platform vision and roadmap. The keynote highlighted investments in integrations with collaboration tools, the launch of ALLIE AI, and expanded lineage capabilities.
A product demo showcased the power that Alation can bring to an entire organization. The demo’s narrative considered a business concern raised by the CEO of “IpsoFacto Insurance.” A quarterly profitability analysis revealed the company is falling behind its competition, and the CEO has tasked each region to reassess premium calculations quarterly. To meet this challenge, each region of IpsoFacto Insurance needs to route the right data to the right people.
Using Alation, each region can tap into the strength of ALLIE AI to autocurate their region’s data descriptions, understand data quality scores through Alation’s integration with our partnered data quality tools, and view lineage to assess the business impact of a data quality issue. Business users can search for all of this in Microsoft Teams, minimizing their context switching and thus, improving their efficiency.
Siedor also led a breakout session that discussed quantifying the business value — and the net quantifiable benefits — derived from mature use of the Alation data intelligence platform. Examples of benefits our customers shared included operational efficiency, better business decisions, improved customer outcomes, shortened innovation cycles, and regulatory compliance. Customers learned that business value can be discerned by developing metrics and measuring those metrics using data from Alation Analytics, the telemetry database of Alation. Siedor also provided some example value metrics for attendees to start using today, plus the queries to measure these metrics.
As a data management & governance specialist at an Australian transport energy distributor and retailer noted, “Alation helps teams go from searching for data like holding a hand torch in a cave, to having a spotlight.”
At the climax of the event, Aware Super, the third-largest superannuation fund in Australia, was honored with the Data Radicals Award for transforming their data landscape with Alation. The initiative empowered every individual at the organization with data-driven insights, enabling them to address and overcome various business challenges.
“We’re thrilled to win the Alation Data Radicals Award, which recognises the exceptional data governance and data management capabilities that we have implemented at Aware Super, helping us to harness data in a multitude of ways to provide better outcomes for our members,” said Chad Barendse, Data Governance Manager at Aware Super, who accepted the award.
The future is now
This year’s revAlation series, which took place on three continents, is testament to the impact of data culture at organizations big and small throughout the world. Want to learn more? Experience the series for yourself, with access to keynote videos, slides, photos, and more!
Whether it’s generative AI, data governance, self-serve analytics, or cloud transformation, Alation’s enterprise data intelligence solutions improve data-driven decision-making at more than 500 companies across the globe.
Curious to explore keynotes, presentations, and other content from revAlation 2023? Here’s your backstage pass.
- London: Engaging EMEA customers
- Chicago: Putting data first in the Second City
- Sydney: Driving data-driven success Down Under
- The future is now