Gartner BI and Analytics Summit, Las Vegas 2014

One of the first things that became obvious at this year’s Gartner BI & Analytics Summit in Las Vegas is the emphasis on big data and analytics, particularly the analytics side of it. Being at the center of the gambling universe, I’d be comfortable betting that anyone able to take the event’s entire agenda and dump it into Wordle will see analytics as the dominant result.

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The opening keynote focused on the integration of analytics into our daily lives, at work and at a personal level. How should this evolve? What does it mean to companies trying to connect with people? Gartner estimates that by 2020 our wearable devices will be driving up to 5 percent of the revenue for the global 1000. Of particular note to you and me now is that by 2016 we’ll see 25 percent of new BA deployments in the form of subscription to cloud based BA services. As we all know too well, what we do in 2016 starts now.

This dovetails nicely into the presentation, “The Future of Analytics is Now,” that Marc Altshuller gave later that day to a full room of about 400 attendees. Marc gave an overview of our portfolio and our commitment to big data andaAnalytics, and cloud-based offerings for all end users, not just the data scientists or BI centers of competency in our traditional predictive and business intelligence markets. The proof was front and center as he drew focus to Concert, Catalyst,and (in the labs) Watson Analytics.

The next day John Hagerty similarly enthralled an audience of around 400 over lunch. John’s presentation focused on the five key decisions one needs to make to accelerate the journey to higher value. At my table alone people immediately saw that framing a big data and analytics effort in terms of the business outcomes they want to affect, implementing the technology, building the teams and all the while ensuring governance, privacy and security was fundamental to success. The food wasn’t bad either, but you had to make sure you made it to the expo for dessert.

The expo room, or solutions showcase as seems the new norm, was as busy and engaging as any I’ve seen. IBM has a great setup including our own demo theater that was filled for every session Jason Salares ran on Concert, Catalyst, Watson Analytics and Forward Looking BI. I would absolutely forget to name someone if I tried to name everyone who did an awesome job at the booth (calling it a booth is like calling Stonehenge a rock), but they should all know that their friendly demeanor, engagement with anyone who walks past and positive attitude in general has had an effect. As I wandered the floor spying on other vendors and swiping swag for my kids, I was stopped by a few folks wanting to note how glad they were that they stopped by our booth. I’m not sure why they felt the need to tell me, but I guess wearing a suit and having a badge saying IBM made them think it was worth letting me know. That’s a pretty solid endorsement of everyone’s effort.

This afternoon I get to host a round table to dive into forward looking BI. These are always interesting as you kick it off with a bit of a spiel and then try to nudge along any organic discussion that starts. Sometimes it can go in completely unexpected directions, but thinking on my feet is one of my favorite pastimes, and it should keep me burning energy in preparation for some wine and food at our IBM reception this evening—Wine Down with IBM. No gimmicks, not hats, no glow sticks, no young adults in costumes, just every cent of budget spent on good wine and good food so attendees can come and relax and merge into the friendly IBM herd for a bit before heading off into the Vegas night to do who knows what.

Today’s the last day and always the most relaxed (if not a little on the recovery side). I’ll be looking to catch a few competitors off guard and try to determine their ace in the hole for 2014. I doubt anyone’s got more up their sleeve that’s got the potential to cause market disruption than IBM, and when you look at the magic quadrants and sit in many of their sessions here, it’s clear that Gartner agrees with me.