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Unleashing the Power of Generative AI: The Vital Role of Subject Matter Experts

Published on
April 18, 2024


As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve, the integrity and quality of the training data are paramount. Early AI models focused on processing and analysis tasks, such as image recognition, speech recognition, and sentiment analysis. These models were often trained on large datasets where annotations could be performed by humans with general skills and flaws in early models could be easily identified and rectified by annotators.

The Indispensable Role of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs):

The AI landscape has undergone a significant transformation. Contemporary models are engineered for more intricate functions like reasoning and summarization, tailored to handle complex and varied scenarios that demand a higher level of cognitive engagement. These advanced models necessitate not just raw data but a nuanced understanding and meticulous adjustments—capabilities uniquely possessed by subject matter experts (SMEs). The fidelity of modern AI outputs is now so sophisticated that discerning errors often requires the expert eye of a domain specialist.

For generative AI (GenAI), the expertise of SMEs has become crucial. Large-Language-Models (LLMs) have been found to “hallucinate” and can generate responses that seem coherent but in fact contain inaccurate or misleading information. This can be difficult for general users to distinguish.

As a result, profound industry knowledge and sharp insights into specific challenges are essential for ensuring the accuracy, contextual relevance, and ethical alignment of AI models. SMEs are key to refining AI outputs, enhancing functionality, and minimizing biases. They play a central role in fully leveraging the potential of GenAI, optimizing performance in complex applications, and ensuring responsible implementation in real-world settings.

The Challenge at Hand

SMEs in large enterprises often find themselves siloed, working with disparate tools and processes that vary significantly from one business unit to another. This lack of uniformity makes collaboration and knowledge sharing cumbersome, leading to inefficiencies, inconsistencies, and risks in deploying GenAI use cases. Managing data work, creating prompts, evaluating responses, conducting A/B tests, and benchmarking across various LLM models requires coordination and consistency that current systems cannot support.

Appen offers an AI Data Platform that leverages the expertise of internal SMEs and a global team of domain experts.

Bridging the Gap with AI Data Platforms

While the involvement of SMEs is crucial, managing their contributions effectively across multiple GenAI initiatives can be daunting. This is where an "orchestration" platform emerges as a vital component, acting as a bridge between human expertise and AI capabilities. Appen’s AI Data Platform streamlines collaboration, enriches AI models with diverse insights, and optimizes project workflows - improving the quality and reliability of GenAI solutions for customers.

This platform is a game-changer for enterprises looking to harness the full potential of their SMEs in the realm of GenAI. The AI Data Platform acts as a central hub, streamlining and standardizing the entire lifecycle of AI deployments. From data preparation and prompt creation to response evaluation and model benchmarking, the platform equips SMEs with the tools they need to apply their domain expertise efficiently.

Appen’s centralized environment facilitates collaboration between SMEs, AI developers, and other stakeholders. It offers tools for SMEs to contribute their knowledge, validate outputs, and provide feedback throughout the development and deployment lifecycle of GenAI use cases.

Key Features of an Effective AI Data Platform:

  • Collaborative Development and Continuous Improvement: Collaborative tools allow subject matter experts (SMEs) and AI developers to share insights seamlessly, supported by continuous monitoring and feedback loops that enhance the performance and accuracy of GenAI solutions.
  • Powerful, Customizable Data Solutions: Incorporates data collection, annotation, categorization, benchmarking, red teaming and more across text, image, audio, and video modalities to improve LLM, relevance, recognition, recommendation and custom use cases.
  • Robust Governance and Ethical Compliance: Comprehensive governance and control mechanisms to ensure adherence to ethical standards, data privacy laws, and organizational policies, maintaining the highest standards of data integrity and security.
  • Scalable and Flexible AI Infrastructure: Scalable architecture meets evolving technological and business needs and integrates smoothly with existing systems, ensuring adaptability and long-term sustainability.
  • Access to Diverse Global Expert Workforce: In addition to internal expertise, having access to a globally sourced workforce brings a wealth of diverse languages, perspectives, and expert insights, which enriches the quality and applicability of data across various markets and applications.

Appen's AI Data Platform manages these essential tasks. It is ideal for enterprises aiming to optimize their internal data and enhance LLM customization and data pipeline efficiency.

Current Engagement Examples:

The transformative potential of GenAI, coupled with the invaluable contributions of SMEs and the power of AI Data platforms, is already being realized by forward-thinking enterprises.

For instance, healthcare providers leveraged Appen's AI Data Platform to develop GenAI-powered virtual assistants for patient support. SMEs from various medical disciplines collaborated with AI developers, providing domain-specific knowledge and validating the assistant's responses. Our platform supported medical annotation for knowledge bases and medical documentation - including custom lexicons with medical terms and drug products. Additionally, Appen supports healthcare imaging, such as CT scan image annotation and similar use cases.

Similarly, a global manufacturing company utilized Appen’s AI Data Platform to deploy a GenAI solution for predictive maintenance. SMEs from engineering and operations teams worked hand-in-hand with AI developers, contributing their expertise to train the models and ensure accurate predictions. This collaboration led to significant cost savings through reduced downtime and optimized maintenance schedules.


As GenAI continues to reshape industries, the role of SMEs becomes increasingly pivotal in navigating the complexities of real-world deployments. Appen’s AI Data Platform supports customers by effectively bridging the gap between human expertise and AI capabilities, unlocking the full potential of GenAI while maintaining responsible oversight and domain-specific knowledge.

The road ahead is promising and requires a collaborative approach that values the contributions of SMEs. By integrating these experts into a common platform that connects their data, peers, and various AI models, enterprises can fully leverage this synergy. Enterprises that embrace this integration will be well-positioned to thrive in the era of Generative AI, with Appen’s platform facilitating and enhancing this transformation.

Get started today:

Explore how Appen's focus on SME data solutions can enhance your most ambitious AI projects. We offer top-quality data collection, preparation, and evaluation, - complemented by world-class SME collaboration technologies. Contact us to learn more.

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Apr 18, 2024