The first week of April, Gartner held the North American leg of their 2012 BI Summit, themed Analytic Excellence, Transforming Data Driven Decision. It also marked the summit’s 10th anniversary. Close to 1,200 other attendees, including myself, participated in a number of thought-provoking sessions that focused on topics as diverse as mobility and big data to old standbys like master data and BI competency centers.
In addition to North America, the Gartner conference also took place in London and Australia, with roughly 1,000 attendees in London, and 300 in Australia.
The Great BI Debate
Likely one of the biggest surprises of the show came from “The Great BI Debate” panel discussion where I had the privilege of debating a variety of BI topics with colleagues from Microsoft, Information Builders, Tibco, and Birst.
One of the questions posed to the audience was “how many of you are planning a big data project in the next year?” Out of 600+ people in the room, only one individual raised their hand. Given the current market noise and interest in this topic, I was surprised. While there are encouraging amounts of interest in the area of big data, business leaders still aren’t sure what big data means for their company or if they themselves have this problem.
The future of big data technology relies on being able to communicate to business leaders the real benefits they’ll reap from its use in areas beyond petabytes, where complexity and velocity are also factors. For the typical customer, data volume this year is close to the same as last year. However, big data technology represents new ways to process and manage this data and incorporate it into analytics, providing fresh and exciting ways to look at business regardless of data volumes. Big data technology will move beyond just “big” and become key to managing information, so pay attention.
And a Scary Thought…
I also attended several sell-out sessions coverings topics such as social analytics, mobility, and BI competency centers. The most thought provoking was Nigel Rayner’s “Judgement Day: Letting the Machines Automate Decision Making.” It was fascinating and scary to see how computers have been proven to make better hiring, investment, and a variety of other complex decisions than humans. We’ve seen technology and automation revolutionize manufacturing and other routine tasks –well watch out white-collar workers, they’re coming after us next!
Top Three Takeaways from the Gartner BI Summit in LA
- Don’t underestimate your customer’s interest in a BI strategy. This is reinforced by the fact that a BI strategy is still critical in the minds of customers.
- Even if it’s not explicit, mobility is an absolutely critical factor in BI implementations in today’s market.
- While there’s a lot of hype around big data, at least with the BI audience, there’s still not much money being spent.