AI and human intelligence make for better data

  • Posted March 22, 2024 by

Leaders recognize the potential of Artificial Intelligence, and reports have been unanimous about the opportunity: AI will transform M&A, as it will everywhere, and investors are flocking. 

But 15 months after ChatGPT’s monumental public launch, those same leaders are pacing themselves.

For one perspective on a timeline of how quickly AI will transform markets, consider data, the bits that computers should find easiest to digest. 

Private Equity Info has been perfecting the process of data collection for its proprietary M&A database since 2005, now with a team of 11 full-time researchers that enter and deliver updates on 127,000 key executives, 16,000 firms and 33,000 funds in the M&A industry, or 34 million total data points.

AI and other technologies have played a crucial role in creating efficiencies in data collection for the company for years. But a world-class research team is paramount to ensure the data is of the highest quality. More than 25,000 data points are updated each month – more than 2,000 hours of manual editing – with no plans to change that process.

At Private Equity Info, human touch is a differentiator from other private equity and M&A data providers. 

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“We have data scientists on our team, and we use AI and other technologies to help us update the data,” said Senior Research Analyst Leslye Fisher, in a recent interview. “But AI isn’t perfect. You need to have eyes on it. It has to be checked by a human, and hands are on our data every day.” 

Fisher, who leads Private Equity Info’s global research team and who has deep experience as a technologist, has been with the company for nearly two decades. 

“We ask our team to put themselves in the customer’s shoes, to see what might be missing from our data. If someone sees something unusual, we can quickly make those changes,” she said. 

The Private Equity Info research team on a call in March 2024.

The Private Equity Info research team on a call in March 2024.

Since September 2021 alone, the research team has made more than a half-million updates to 14 datasets that represent the industry. A team dedicated to portfolio companies, the largest and most active dataset, meets frequently to review scheduled updates and to confirm data consistency and accuracy. 

With an average tenure of more than five years, each research team member is expert in collecting data about M&A, with an extraordinary attention to detail and a deep understanding of the niche private equity and M&A space. 

"I’m proud of the team that we’ve hired,” Fisher said. “We’re confident that they’re the very best people, and we know they’re improving our data quality.”