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2 minute read / Jul 8, 2024 /

Select avg(Moby Dick) limit 2 sentences

The SQL statement above is a quote from our recent Office Hours with Benn Stancil. It’s not a SQL statement that would work today in a cloud data warehouse. But an LLM would understand it : summarize the book Moby Dick in two sentences.

Sure enough, ChatGPT answers the question :

image This pseudocode blends the structured queries of data analysis with the unstructured data contained in a classic novel. This is how Benn views the future of BI

BI’s Third Form. “Is the output numbers in the future of BI? I don’t think it’s numbers…the theory is what we want ; the characterization & qualitative parts.”

Just as ChatGPT summarized the essence of Moby Dick, AI easily summarizes the themes of 10 customer conversations - or 100.

Benn views the future of BI as the narrative, the story behind the data. Numbers have been the historical source of truth, a proxy to underlying customer behavior. Nobel laureate Shiller wrote about the power of narrative economics, stories used to understand a business & shape the future.

The rest of the Modern Data Stack will transform, too. Data Quality will need to tackle ever greater volumes. If LLMs do average the insight in new underlying unstructured data sources which are potentially massive, what is Data Quality’s new role in the world of AI? ETL, more deterministic in nature, may not see full delegation to AI.

We covered the Databricks/Tabular acquisition & many other topics. Benn’s views on the data ecosystem are unique : a bit irreverent with lots of practical experience underpinning them.

I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did. The video is embedded below & podcast link is here.

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