Querying Minds Want to Know- Can a Data Fabric and RAG Clean up LLMs
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Providing timely, intuitive access to information has been top-of-mind for many companies, and their data professionals in particular. Over the past few decades, we have been storing up data and generating even more of it than we have known what to do with it. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) we can now conceive of new and exciting ways to deliver on the promise of a data-driven organization.   

The Rise of LLMs in Enterprise Applications

LLMs like ChatGPT, BERT, LLaMA, PaLM 2, and the new Gemini Ultra, have taken off and are on the minds of many organizations today. Many organizations want to provide quick access to enterprise information by just letting employees ask questions as if they were speaking to a person. Imagine going to one place to learn everything from corporate policies, to customer sales, to how much inventory is left in warehouses, simply by asking a question. The promise is almost surreal — yet it is within our reach.

Shortly after ChatGPT was released, innovative developers and enterprises sought to incorporate LLMs with existing search capabilities, to make access to information more intuitive and valuable. This was primarily because LLMs do not know about private corporate data and can sometimes provide erroneous responses. Leveraging the power of LLMs in concert with searching enterprise data stores has the potential to significantly increase productivity, usability, and much more. However, this highlighted other challenges around how we search for information. This is because many document repositories worked by using keywords or full text indexes, which were based on the actual words found in documents. Now with LLMs, the idea of searching based on similar meaning or intent is here. There is, however, some work that is needed to get there.

Overcoming Limitations with Retrieval Augmented Generation

Enter retrieval augmented generation (RAG), which is a new architectural pattern or methodology. It provides a way to address some of those things that are not quite right with general LLMs. RAG enables us to make our private data available to an LLM along with additional explanatory summaries and knowledge. You implement RAG by first optimizing and executing a search across your enterprise data. Then you feed this information into an LLM for summarization and added insight. But to do this well, you need access to your corporate stores and potentially in real or near-real time.

The Strategic Role of a Data Fabric powered by Data Virtualization

At the intersection of this technological mix lies data fabric, a pivotal enabler that bridges disparate data sources, formats, and structures. A data fabric powered by data virtualization serves as the foundational layer that facilitates seamless access to –  and integration of – structured and semi-structured data, empowering LLMs and RAG with a comprehensive view of an organization’s information landscape. By abstracting the complexities of data access and integration, a data fabric enables a more agile, efficient approach to data management, setting the stage for advanced analytics and knowledge discovery.

Expanding Applications: The Transformative Potential of Integrated Technologies

The union of data fabric, RAG, and LLMs opens a realm of possibilities for redefining the delivery of information to non-technical data consumers. From creating intelligent agents capable of providing real-time, accurate responses to complex queries, to automating routine data collection and analysis tasks, the applications of these integrated technologies are vast and varied.
In this post, I touched on several key areas in which the synergy of data fabric, RAG, and LLMs can be harnessed to drive significant improvements in efficiency, productivity, and innovation within your organization. The next three posts in this series will cover:

  1. On-Demand Enterprise Data Querying: Post 2 will focus on the development of systems that enable secure, on-demand querying of enterprise data. By leveraging the combined capabilities of data fabric and RAG-enhanced LLMs, organizations can implement sophisticated applications, chatbots, and virtual assistants that provide employees and stakeholders with instant access to relevant information. This not only streamlines the decision-making process but also democratizes access to critical data across the organization. Imagine Chatbots that provide accurate data in real time, based on knowledge about the access details of any given user. How would your organization benefit if employees and business partners could simply ask questions and get answers? How do you think this would increase productivity and business partner intimacy?
  2. Semantic Indexing Enterprise Data: Post 3 will delve into the impact of logical data management, via a data fabric, on improving the discoverability of information through semantic indexing. By transcending traditional keyword-based search mechanisms, semantic indexing enables a more nuanced, intent-driven approach to information retrieval. This advancement is instrumental in maximizing the utility of RAG-enhanced LLMs, ensuring that the generated responses are not only accurate but also contextually aligned with the user’s informational needs. Perhaps your organization wants to mix transaction data and other non-structured data together in a repository. A data fabric powered by data virtualization enables the enterprise to connect to these data stores while leveraging the data in an optimal format. With the logical data management capabilities in a data fabric, you can create services that you can easily incorporate into indexing processes.
  3. Intelligent Autonomous Agents: Part 4, and the final post in this series, will examine the role of integrated technologies in automating data collection and update processes. What about using LLMs to automate processes and operations? These often need data and perhaps the ability to update downstream systems. Automation, powered by data virtualization and RAG-enhanced LLMs, promises to empower agents to collect and update information immediately after events in the enterprise both with and/or without human intervention. 

Looking Ahead: The Future of Data Fabric, RAG, and LLMs in Enterprises

As we delve deeper into the integration of data fabric, RAG, and LLMs, it’s clear that the landscape of enterprise information management is on the cusp of a significant transformation. The synergy of these technologies promises not only to enhance the accessibility and accuracy of enterprise data but also to redefine the paradigms of human-computer interaction in your organization.

The future iterations of these integrations might see even more sophisticated applications, such as predictive analytics, advanced data visualization, and automated decision-making processes. As these technologies evolve, the potential for creating more intelligent, responsive, and efficient enterprises is exploding exponentially.

For more information about data fabric, powered by data virtualization and LLMs, see Unlocking the Power of Generative AI: Integrating Large Language Models and Organizational Knowledge, By my colleague, Felix Liao.

Stay tuned for an exciting journey through the integration of data fabric, RAG, and LLMs. The potential to transform enterprise information access and operations is immense, and we’re just scratching the surface.  I hope you are as excited to read about it as I am to share this with you!