Being Present for the Future of Data and Analytics
Are you excited about using data analytics to fuel curiosity and innovation? You would have been right at home at Summit 2019, Information Builders annual user conference and educational event for customers and partners that took place last week in Orlando, FL. The conference theme and all 100+ sessions explored how organizations can take this sentiment to heart and build their future digital transformation on a solid data foundation.
As Information Builders CEO Frank J. Vella pointed out in his opening keynote to the packed house, the excitement surrounding the solutions our customers and partners are building with our data and analytics platform was positively contagious. It was especially gratifying to see how new cloud customers are adding value to their enterprises rapidly.
Frank Vella’s keynote address to a packed house kicked off Summit 2019.
The pace of business has fundamentally altered the relationship of organizations with their data. It is no longer about data residing in several places that has to be distributed to certain key people. It is now about data from an infinite number of sources being distributed to all people, intelligent devices, and all processes and services. This requires an organization to effectively curate data for extreme relevancy for more informed decisions and more automated processes. “Data is a pre-requisite for anything the future might throw at us,” Vella remarked.
Watch Frank’s keynote here. The opener also includes a presentation by Information Builders’ CMO Michael Corcoran on creating more value through data and analytics, plus a fantastic customer panel discussion moderated by VP of Product Sales Melissa Treier.
What This Means to Business and IT
With this uber-connected future vision in mind, data-loving attendees flocked to the more than 100 sessions and labs to hone their skills in data management, data literacy, data analytics, data science, data visualization – all things data. But very importantly, we weren’t talking about data for data’s sake. The thinking about the purpose of the data – the business use case and desired outcome – is really the driving force of success. Many customer-led sessions emphasized this point time and again. “Are you connecting the dots, or just collecting them?” asked Grace Auh from Markham Stouffer Hospital in her presentation on shifting gears for more traction from a business intelligence initiative.
Summit attendees took advantage of the more than 100 sessions and labs to hone their skills in all things data and analytics.
The notion of business and IT collaboration is not a new thing, but it has taken on a new life as part of this data revolution. Both sides were well represented at Summit, and we learned about new ways to structure organizations and roles for a better exchange and to overcome traditional challenges. One thing was abundantly clear: Just like business people are becoming more data literate, so must IT people become more business literate and understand the end game of each use case. On the main stage customer panel, Rosnet’s Patrick Bobrukiewicz summed it up this way: “If you can’t get the answer to ‘why’ when starting to build a data analytics application, don’t start it until you do.”
Easy Does It
Information Builders’ ability to solve complex problems with our tech stack was on display throughout the conference. It’s what we do best for our customers across every industry – scalable, secure, governed enterprise-class data analytics applications. This year at Summit, Frank Vella told our community that we are listening to them. We will continue to make robust, flexible technology so they can be prepared for what the future holds, and we will continue to make everything easier. With a cloud-first mindset, joined up product groups, an integrated data and analytics platform, and a new discipline on user experience design for presentation layers, customers and partners will benefit from our products being easier to build, deploy, manage, use, upgrade, and migrate. Let’s hear it for simplicity!
Aligning Data and Analytics Strategy
There was a ton of cool technology at Summit, but just as much discussion around skills, processes, and overall alignment of data and analytics strategy, tying in delivery with business value. Surprise, surprise, this also relates to use cases. Michael Corcoran talked about where to find the most value on the analytics journey and the data challenges along the way. He points out that executive dashboards make the CEO happy – it’s a quick win. But “organizations are looking for ROI in all the wrong places” because the real value is created when you empower the front lines of an organization with new insights. That’s what makes the CEO happy AND the business more profitable.
We heard so many examples of this at Summit. Customers on the main stage panel alone cited 30,000 end users at Rosnet start their day with a dashboard; 350 salespeople at Swisher get a custom report pushed to them every morning giving them exactly what they need to sell more cigars; and 2,000 police officers at York Regional Police use data to drive their day. Who knew cigar salespeople, restaurant managers, and police officers had so much in common?
The Role of Data Quality
All the talk of innovating with data exposed how critical the quality of that data must be. To take advantage of automation, artificial intelligence, predictive and other advanced analytics, your data must be business-ready. To chance otherwise, is likely to compromise your ability to understand your business, and achieve your goals. Bad data = bad predictions. In addition, according to IDC analyst Dan Vesset’s research, less than 20 percent of time spent by knowledge workers is on analysis. Instead, they are spending too much time finding, preparing, and managing data. He stated an organization with 1,000 knowledge workers can waste almost $6 million annually. So folks, the learnings from Summit point to the advantage of having an integrated platform like ours to ensure consistent, timely and accurate data for both analytical and operational needs.
Everyone at Summit – from employees and customers to partners, press, and analysts – enjoyed a week of inspiration, learning, and networking.
A Thriving Community
We are grateful to our enthusiastic Summit community of employees, customers, partners, press, and analysts who joined us for a week of inspiration, learning, and networking. Thanks to our Summit sponsors for helping to put on a stellar event designed to stretch our minds and bodies alike – from sunrise yoga by Amazon Web Services, healthy and delicious breakfast spreads by IBM, our welcome reception by Syntelli Solutions, and refreshing breaks by Amtex BI – we had it all covered. Frank noted that Information Builders is doubling down on innovating with partners – helping them to grow their business through our business and our customer-centric culture.
There were plenty of opportunities for networking and learning. Our Expert Room, Customer Experience Center, Hands-On Labs, and Social Lounge were constantly abuzz with energy. We had our share of great fun too, with the always entertaining welcome reception in the Solutions Pavilion (balloon animals take on a whole new meaning here!) and of course our amazing off-site adventure at Universal Studios Island of Adventure. It rained a bit – ok it POURED – but everyone still had a great time rocking their ponchos with old and new friends.
This year, we even had a magician who wow’ed our attendees with mind-boggling tricks.
Customers Honored at Summit
Every Summit we select a few customers to honor for their exceptional achievements using our data and analytics platform. This year we congratulated York Regional Police Department, Swisher International, and Rosnet who each exemplified what we mean when we say “trusted data and analytics at scale.”
- York Regional Police Department, headquartered in Ontario, Canada, used Information Builders’ Law Enforcement Analytics platform to harness data for strategic planning and operational analysis. York’s new analytics environment includes intelligent search tools, dashboards, and a performance management framework that helps more than 2,000 sworn and civilian members to be more proactive in investigating and preventing crime
- Rosnet, a restaurant management software vendor, used our BI and analytics platform to embed an analytics portal into its popular food management, inventory management, and labor management system. The easy-to-use SaaS environment helps restaurant operators gain visibility into broad financial trends and also drill into discrete food costs, labor costs, and other service metrics. Large brands, such as Denny’s, Burger King, Applebee’s, and iHop use the portal to improve profitability and boost efficiency, with all modules easily accessible via iOS and Android devices.
- Swisher International, the world’s largest manufacturer of cigars, vapor products, and smokeless products, used Information Builders’ technologies to consolidate data from multiple ERP systems, creating a “single source of truth” for reporting and analysis. Swisher’s enterprise BI environment helps the company increase sales, boost efficiency, and gain greater transparency into fundamental business processes.
Well done to all!
Aha Moments Made Here
One Summit attendee tweeted that she took away at least one tidbit or aha moment in every session. That’s what Summit is all about: picking up new ideas and knocking down challenges. Eric Raab, SVP of Product Engineering wowed us with some great examples of our customers’ creativity and skills at work with our “Show Us the Data Viz Challenge”. City of Brampton in Canada took first place with their impressive array of “smart city” portals, dashboards and reports to support bus transit and law enforcement for city residents. Runners up were Taylor University and St. Lawrence Family Health Center. Thank you to all who submitted and congrats to the winners and runners up!
That’s a Wrap
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it.” We truly experienced the future of data and analytics at Summit 2019. We’re ready.
For more Summit news and views, be sure to check out:
See you next year!