The Gartner BI Summit 2012 – A great event

Gartner BI Summit 2012

Wow. I cannot believe it. The Gartner BI Summit 2012 is already over. The event raced by like a bullet train at full speed. Time flies when you are having fun. Last Wednesday, I sat down with the conference agenda and developed a nice plan. I had grand visions of collecting lot’s of information and creating several posts for this blog. But things turned out differently……wait a second. Let’s back up.

Uncertain times

One of the recurring themes at the conference was uncertainty. Ironically, that uncertainty applied to the event as well. 2cm of snow created massive problems at Heathrow. Many attendees got stuck and arrived late. Two flight cancelations and another major delay did not prevent me from arriving right in time to see the BI Excellence Award finalists present their case. But I did miss the Gartner keynote which was supposedly outstanding.

Gartner BI Excellence Award

Gartner BI Summit 2012
Our session was packed. I really enjoyed showing IBM's latest technology

One of the true highlights of the Gartner BI Summit were the presentations by the three BI Excellence Award finalists. This was really exciting for me as a member of the global IBM Business Analytics team: two of the 2012 finalists are IBM customers. Spanish insurance giant MAPFRE presented an awesome case. They have standardized on IBM Cognos 10 and developed a rock-solid global BI standard with massive ROI. Marcos Garcia March delivered a stunning presentation of their case. He was followed by the winner: Medway Youth Trust. This is a 2M GBP foundation focusing on helping kids avoid unemployment. The CEO demonstrated a highly innovative use case for predictive analytics (using SPSS). Counselors log conversations with kids to detect patterns that can help them not only better identify kids at risk but to also fine-tune their strategies in dealing with them. The audience was impressed. London Transport was the final case. They use Business Intelligence to better guide and observe traffic in London.

Congrats to Medway Youth Trust for their win. Also, congrats to Mapfre and London Transport. Awesome achievements! Make sure to read the Medway Youth Trust case study.

Random Observations

Here are a few brief observations. I actually ended up having a lot of customer meetings and did not have time to attend too many session:

  • Technology has come a long way. There are so many cool and amazing solutions out there. But many organizations are still struggling with basic things like user adoption, missing analytical skills, data quality, design of driver-based plans and such. We cannot afford to ignore these issues. Technology alone won’t fix them for us.
  • It’s all about decision making. Never before have people put so much emphasize on the idea that business analytics must help organizations make better business decisions.
  • More and more people speak about Business Analytics. I suspect that the term BI will gradually disappear over the next few year. Most vendors including IBM and also Gartner now exclusively speak about Business Analytics.
  • Predictive analytics is hot. The relevant sessions that I attended were packed. And the interest is also evidenced by Medway’s win. I did sense, though, that most organizations are still trying to figure out how to embed and use predictive capabilities. It’ll be interesting to watch the progress next year.
  • Big data is getting bigger. There is a lot of buzz around this topic. Is this warranted? Many organizations are still struggling with basic issues. Is there too much focus on advanced topics? Shouldn’t we spend an equal amount of time on fixing the foundation first?
  • The customers that I met with have made amazing progress in the past few years. I do think that we are at an inflection point for business analytics.

Gartner BI Summit 2012

The Gartner BI Summit was a great success. Great discussions, interesting sessions and lot’s of positive energy. Looking forward to next year in Barcelona!

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