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!

Useful links:

Two days @ the Gartner BI Summit

London Heathrow, Terminal 5. 6pm GMT. I am tired. Really tired. Museum visits, shopping trips and conference whirlwinds belong to a category of highly rewarding and fun activities, yet they also belong to the category of activities that can only be classified as “Holy smokes, why am I so exhausted?” type of things.

THE GARTNER BI SUMMIT

Gartner does a fine job of producing highly relevant and engaging events. The 2011 EMEA Summit was no different. Over 700 people attended the well organized event at the Westminster Plaza hotel in London.

OPENING DAY

The opening day offered some great presentations. I liked the Gartner keynote which highlighted some of the key themes that are happening in the market. A few interesting things that came up include:

  • 62% of all EMEA organizations have a BI strategy. That is a positive change from the prior years.
  • BUT…only 1/3 of all organizations have a real BICC. But Gartner highlighted that a BICC is somewhat of a ‘secret sauce’ for success in BI.
  • Organizations are very interested in Predictive Analytics, In-Memory, Master Data Management & Dashboarding
  • Success means going for BIG BI: not just platform but rather a complete view of people, process & technology.

PANEL DISCUSSION

Nigel Rayner hosted a great and fun panel session with participants from the main BI vendors. Peter Griffiths represented our IBM Cognos team. Nigel did a great job with the panel and he got the audience actively involved by voting on certain topics. A few interesting points:

  • iPads everywhere

    A big majority of the participants believe mobile BI will play a huge role in the future. Not a big surprise.

    Collaboration & social media will change the game for BI

    Many people believe that a large portion of BI spending will go SIs instead of software vendors.

  • 90% of the audience members believed that predictive analytics will become accessible to a broader user spectrum
  • Many delegates are unsure whether BI hardware & software should be bundled

OUR KEYNOTE & WORKSHOPS

On the second day of the conference, Leah Macmillian and I delivered the IBM keynote. It was great to see so many people in the room. We spent almost 50% of our allocated time on showing Cognos 10. Many people in the audience seemed surprised as we were the only vendor to show product. A bit of a surprise to me. Why would you spend so much time talking about future direction instead of showing what you can do now? Everybody has great ideas but at the end of the day we need to deliver value now. Right? No surprise: We did get a ton of questions following our presentation.

CONCLUSION

Kudos to Gartner. It was a great event. Excellent content and excellent participants. I really enjoyed the networking with so many great people. It was cool to see that our IBM portfolio pretty much covers all the main trends that were discussed at the Summit: Mobile, Collaboration, In-Memory, Predictive Analytics etc.. Cognos 10 is a great platform. Gartner’s assessment of IBM’s position in the market clearly highlighted this.