Blogging from the Gartner BI Summit: Day 2

May 4, 2011
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Members of Qlikview said in their case study session that one of the most powerful things you can glean from analytics is finding the data you didn’t know was relevant and were not looking for.  I felt the same way about the conference, I’ve picked up a lot of information that I wasn’t expecting and have a punch list of new areas to research and become fluent in. 

Members of Qlikview said in their case study session that one of the most powerful things you can glean from analytics is finding the data you didn’t know was relevant and were not looking for.  I felt the same way about the conference, I’ve picked up a lot of information that I wasn’t expecting and have a punch list of new areas to research and become fluent in. 

For example, the idea that we need to think about analytical data outside of the traditional rows and columns of a relational database and instead think about how to develop analytics from new repositories of unstructured content.  To hear industry leaders from Gartner, Teradata, Microsoft and Oracle all agree that in 5 years, the majority of analytic data we consume will come from unstructured sources is amazing given where we are today.  New concepts are evolving to help mine this data, and I know I need to spend more time learning about them to continue to be an effective practitioner. It truly is an interesting time to be in the information technology, and more specifically, the data industry.

The BI Excellence Award presentations were one of the highlights of the day.  I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited about attending a session dedicated to giving a forum for each finalist to tell me why I should vote for them. Two minutes into the first presentation, I realized I was wrong.  Elie Tahari, UPS and Yahoo are all doing some truly amazing things with BI and to hear them talk about it with such passion was wonderful.  Each company has reached a level of maturity where they are changing not just their organization but their industry. It was nearly impossible to pick a winner, and in my mind all were deserving.  In the end, UPS took home the prize.  They used analytics to reduce warehouse worker training time from weeks to hours and significantly cut down the number of miles logged by delivery drivers, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.

It was another great day and I’m looking forward to a strong finish tomorrow.

My Top 5 Takeaways from Day 2:

  • BI is not the hard part of what we do.  It is the people, politics and governance that creates the challenge.  As BI practitioners we can only be successful if we learn how to deal with the non technical issues.
  • The iPad is being adopted in the enterprise whether we like it or not.  Everyone I spoke with is either supporting it already or evaluating it. Further, mobility isn’t just for the road warrior, people are taking their tablets with them to the next cube.  BI on the tablet may be a year or two off but it is coming fast so we need to be ready.  
  • I’ve already experienced this first hand, but it was nice to hear it confirmed by Gartner analyst Andy Bitterer – 50% of requirements change in the first year of a BI project.  I might even argue that number is too low. 
  • Adopting Agile delivery allows you to fail fast and fail early, reducing the cost of failure and turning it into something to embrace and learn from.
  • I left the SETMA case study with a really profound truth about Business Intelligence – The only thing you can hide behind when you open the door to transparency is excellence…and isn’t that what we are all trying to achieve with the BI solutions we deliver?