TDWI Vendor Panel on the Future of BI – part One

February 23, 2011
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Last week I had to opportunity to attend the TDWI conference on BI in Las Vegas. While TDWI actually holds four conferences every year, this first one of the year is always the largest. This year, things seemed to be hopping with over 750 attendees.

During the conference, I spent some time in the TDWI Executive Summit. The summit is meant to give executives who have some responsibility for BI a high-level overview of various topics of concern and interest. While the regular TDWI sessions (classes) are a half to full day, the Executive Summit presentations are generally an hour each.

Wrapping up the third day of the summit was the vendor panel. The forum was open, allowing anyone in the audience to ask questions of the panel. What follow is a synopsis of the most popular items that were discussed. The comments are from the vendors and not necessarily my own opinions:

Mobile BI – Mobile BI must do more than put a computer screen on a mobile phone. While it has a great form factor and can combine additional contextual knowledge, such as current location, security factors need to be considered and there needs to be a consistent semantic layer across all modes of distribution, whether it’s a phone or a laptop.

Tool Consolidation – It’s very difficult to get the organization to agree to one tool, but you can get close. It’s important to make sure users have the tool they need but also important that there is interoperability across the tool suite. Additional thoughts are the ability for users to self-service their BI needs and to provide governance.

Cloud BI – It’s very early in the cloud BI space. The recommendation is to start with a specific project, especially one that might require external data such as sentiment data. It can make for a great exploration sandbox. Cloud BI must be a solution to a business need, not a shiny new trend to be embraced.

Social Media Data – Also known as social media analytics (SMA), this is definitely a new trend that has incredible value. It’s a great way to understand what people are talking about, looking at patterns in conversation. The discoveries can be surprising. For example, a hotel chain did a customer survey and found they have good results. But, when they looked at conversations on Trip Advisor they were surprised by the negative feedback with specific details.

Check back next week for the rest of the topics discussed in TDWI’s Future of BI vendor panel!