The Pillars of AI Success: Clean Data and Data Governance in Snowflake

Learn how clean data and robust data governance in Snowflake can help your organization prepare for AI transformation.
September 21, 2023
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In a fast-paced, ever-evolving technological landscape dominated by emerging AI technologies, organizations worldwide and across industries can hardly contain their excitement about the transformative potential of these new tools. With increasingly sophisticated Large Language Models (LLMs) and other AI tools released almost daily that can accomplish incredible feats like interpreting language, generating human-like text, or analyzing large data sets in record time, the possibilities for business transformation seem virtually endless. But before an organization can dive into the world of AI and unleash the full potential of these impressive new tools, they must universally overcome one serious obstacle: shoring up the quality and governance of their existing (and often rapidly expanding) data. For those organizations still in the early stages of their data innovation journeys, getting their data houses in order and implementing standards of data governance in Snowflake can be a great way to step out of chaotic legacy systems and stand ready for the AI revolution. 

Whether it’s generating a report from a large data set, optimizing supply chains, or predicting cancer, AI models are only as powerful as the data on which they feed. Clean, well-managed datasets and effective data governance inform the very foundation upon which successful AI models are built. 

In this blog, we’ll explore why cleaning up your data house is so essential and how it paves the way for future AI innovations. We’ll explore why data readiness is the indispensable precursor to AI success and how organizations can ensure their data is in optimal shape before embarking on their AI journey.

The Fundamentals of Clean Data

Clean data refers to data that is accurate, complete, consistent, and free of errors or duplications. Clean data is indispensable to AI for the following reasons:

Improved Model Accuracy: Clean data ensures that your AI models are trained on accurate and reliable information. Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) is a common adage in data science, highlighting that the quality of input data directly impacts the quality of AI model outputs.

Enhanced Generalization: Clean data helps AI models generalize better to unseen data. Models trained on noisy or inconsistent data may struggle to make accurate predictions when faced with new, real-world scenarios.

Reduced Bias: Dirty data can introduce biases into AI models, and these biases can have unforeseen ethical consequences. Biased training data can lead to an AI inheriting  human prejudices that ​​reflect historical or social inequities. These biases, in turn, can introduce or perpetuate unfair or discriminatory outcomes when you put the AI model into action.

Efficient Training: Cleaning and preprocessing data is a resource-intensive task. When your data is already clean, your AI team can focus more on model development and less on data cleaning, streamlining the entire process. 

The Role of Data Governance

Data governance involves the management and oversight of data to ensure its quality, security, and compliance. It is a practice critical to AI development for several reasons:

Data Quality Assurance: Data governance practices establish data quality standards, data lineage, and data documentation. This helps maintain clean data and ensures that data is trustworthy and consistent over time. Cleaning up your data on the front end is all well and good, but it is equally important to establish a set of standards that will keep your databases clean as more data is ingested over time.  

Data Security: Data governance enforces security measures to protect sensitive data. AI models often deal with sensitive information, and robust data governance helps mitigate data breaches and privacy risks. This is especially vital in highly regulated industries like healthcare, where the storage, processing, and transmission of data must be tightly monitored.

Compliance: With data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, ensuring data compliance is essential. Data governance frameworks help businesses adhere to these regulations by defining who can access data and how it can be used. This is, once again, imperative in healthcare and the life sciences, where additional data standards like FHIR make it even more pivotal to carefully provision access to confidential electronic health records (EHRs). 

Version Control: AI models need to be trained on specific versions of data. Data governance helps track changes and versions, ensuring that AI models can be reproduced and updated reliably. This is a future-proofing strategy that ensures that your organization’s AI initiatives turn into adaptable and scalable solutions rather than  expensive experiments teetering on the brink of obsolescence.

Collaboration: AI projects often involve cross-functional teams. Data governance provides a framework for collaboration, ensuring that everyone involved understands data processes, usage, and responsibilities. Robust AI solutions are at their best in the hands of well-trained teams, and a strong data governance framework is a central component of that training.

Data Housekeeping: A Guide to Clean Data and Data Governance in Snowflake

Now that we’ve established the important role clean data practices and strong governance standards play in laying a strong foundation for AI success, let’s talk about some of the steps your organization can take to get its data house in order on the Snowflake Data Cloud, preparing your organization to embark on its AI journey.

Data Profiling and Cleaning: Start by profiling your data to identify inconsistencies and errors. Implement data cleaning processes to rectify these issues and maintain data quality. A well-executed migration of your data to the Snowflake Data Cloud can help break down data silos that exist within legacy systems while compiling a unified source of truth for your organization, transforming the chaos of manually-entered, on-premise data practices into ordered, interoperable, and consistent datasets that are ready for AI revolution.

Data Documentation: Document your data thoroughly, including its source, structure, and any transformations. This documentation is vital for transparency and collaboration. Modern data stack offerings like dbt Cloud make testing and documenting in Snowflake a breeze, which means you can be confident about the quality, consistency, and compliance of your data when using it to train an AI model. 

Data Governance Framework: Establish a data governance framework that defines roles, responsibilities, and data access controls. This is one area where choosing the right modern data stack becomes instrumental, with cloud-based solutions like Snowflake allowing your organization to easily build data dictionaries alongside code development, integrate data quality controls, and incorporate data governance best practices. 

Beyond Clean Data: Unlocking the Infinite Potential of AI

When an organization possesses clean, high-quality data and implements robust data governance practices, the possibilities with AI are virtually boundless. AI algorithms powered by pristine data can unveil valuable insights not readily apparent to the human eye, paving the way for data-driven decision-making at an unprecedented scale. From predictive analytics that foresee market trends and customer preferences, to recommendation engines that personalize user experiences, AI can elevate business strategies to new heights. AI-driven automation can also optimize supply chains, enhance customer support, and generate lifelike human-like text content for diverse applications. 

In healthcare, AI models trained on quality, well-governed data can perform an incredible range of time- and effort-intensive tasks. They can predict diseases with remarkable accuracy, analyze unstructured clinical notes, conduct literature reviews, compile reports, and transcribe patient interactions. 

With clean data and strong governance, AI becomes a transformative force that not only improves operational efficiency but also drives innovation, fuels growth, and unlocks competitive advantages in the digital age.

AI Business Transformations with Clean Data and Data Governance in Snowflake

By now, we’ve established that clean data and effective data governance are paramount for building successful AI models. These principles enhance model accuracy, reduce bias, ensure compliance, and streamline development processes to ensure the long-term success of your business’s AI initiatives. We’ve also outlined some of the ways the Snowflake Data Cloud can help your organization get its data house in order, opening the path to AI innovation.

As AI continues to reshape industries, investing in clean data and robust data governance is not just a best practice. It’s a necessity for staying competitive and ethical in the AI-driven world. Hakkoda’s data teams are 100% SnowPro certified and bring expertise across the modern data stack to meet your business’s needs, wherever it falls on the continuum from chaotic legacy data systems to cutting-edge AI technology. Ready to get your data house in order and start your AI journey? Let’s talk.

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