Highlights from Teradata Partners 2010

October 29, 2010
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It’s a sure bet that attendees of the first Teradata User Group, navigating the Riviera Country Club’s lush 18 holes, wouldn’t have believed that twenty six years later their numbers would swell from a few dozen to over three thousand. And, true to form, the Teradata Partners Steering Committee assembled a mix of customers, industry analysts, and Teradata experts to educate and entertain an often sophisticated and restless group of data warehouse early adopters.

It’s a sure bet that attendees of the first Teradata User Group, navigating the Riviera Country Club’s lush 18 holes, wouldn’t have believed that twenty six years later their numbers would swell from a few dozen to over three thousand. And, true to form, the Teradata Partners Steering Committee assembled a mix of customers, industry analysts, and Teradata experts to educate and entertain an often sophisticated and restless group of data warehouse early adopters. Competition from other conferences this week—most notably Forrester’s Consumer Forum and IBM’s Information On Demand—didn’t deter Teradata’s intrepid customers, many of them Partners veterans.

The conference theme of Innovate to Differentiate seemed to hover across topics but firmly alight on the advent of social media data. Chief Marketing Officer Darryl McDonald targeted his Monday keynote message on data socialization as a means of enriching customer insight and business operations. The implicit message was that the Teradata family of scalable database platforms was best suited to store and process the impending social media data explosion.

Social media also came up in the refreshingly irreverent Crabby Old Men of Data Warehousing Panel, in which Teradata’s Dave Schrader led four industry experts weighing  in on BI and data warehousing trends. Mobile BI, visualization tools, and BI in the cloud were also hot topics for panelists, including Teradata veteran Dan Graham, whose “ETL is dead” pronouncement ruffled some practitioner feathers while being firmly on-the-mark.  

Teradata trotted out its usual speakers and stalwart topics. You can’t walk three feet at a Teradata event without someone advocating industry data models or touting mixed workloads. Physical database design, active data warehousing, and performance optimization all made appearances, pulling practitioners eager for tips and techniques.

Notably absent from both the agenda and the hallway conversations were Master Data Management—the fulcrum of mega-hype two years ago in Orlando; data governance, which seemed subject to wild interpretation by both Teradata customers and consultants; columnar databases, only mentioned among prospects and even then, sotto voce; and data quality—a topic shockingly absent from the program and ultimately claimed by Teradata partner Kalido in its crowded expo booth.

Where Teradata perennially shines is in its success stories. While Oracle and IBM were still selling feeds and speeds Teradata was busy pioneering the solutions sale—and gaining market share among the Global 2000. In a North American market arguably saturated with enterprise data warehouses, the Teradata technology adopts a particular sparkle when polished with industry case studies.  Notable presentations from Dixons, National Australia Bank, and The Home Depot highlighted the business value of advanced analytics leveraging large, detailed data volumes.

A joint presentation from Teradata retail guru Paul Winsor and SAS’ Retha Keyser showcased a brilliant application of integrated sales channel data with web browsing behavior leveraging Teradata’s Integrated Web Analytics. The result?  Relevant win-back offers and revenue uplift. “Our customers have been telling us what they want,” said ShopRite’s Ruth Gordon on Wednesday. “Until Teradata, we just weren’t looking in the right place.” Bingo.

Donning my industry analyst hat, I’d advise Teradata to stop tiptoeing around its established strategic business partners SAS and Microstrategy and start actually acquiring vendors whose solutions can continue to exploit the granular detail that the Teradata platform family so masterfully provisions. One of those vendors might be a nascent social media analytics firm like Radian6 or an enterprise search vendor like Attivio. As the importance of the platform recedes, analytic applications will emerge as the value drivers, pulling along the infrastructure that supports them.

And hurling my hat into the air, I congratulate Teradata and its Partners Steering Committee for another memorable user event, and for retaining its hard-core community of raving fans.