Thursday, April 10, 2008

Insight on the Gartner BI Conference in Chicago

As a long time attendee of the various Gartner events, my favorite has always been the more intimate setting of the BI summit - typically held in Chicago. Boy, was I surprised at the 1200+ attendees of this year's conference and the expectation of bigger growth to fuel a move to Washington, DC in 2009. Last year’s event pales in comparison. BI advocates, typically a cross-over role between Finance and IT, have made a rather dramatic transition into the IT camp for this conference. Many of the sessions were educational and entry-level in scope and oriented to the first time architect and supporter of Business Intelligence environments. The event has clearly moved away from the user of past years.

Also notable was the absence of discussions on the relative cost savings in deploying a BI environment for better business planning and analysis. Other than the one rather cheeky session on how to negotiate a good deal with your BI vendor, I expected to hear more about cost cutting and using BI data to enable efficiencies and identify cost-prohibitive inefficiencies. The market picture has been doom and gloom and the "R" word blatantly used. Instead I heard a great deal about enabling integration and the expansion of analytic applications.

I think this is great news! Clearly the message was to expand the BI footprint and make use of the technology that can drive profitability, not focus on doing more with less. I had conversations with luminaries such as Howard Dresner and Ron Powell, but I also spoke with a number of vendors and implementers such as IBM GBS and Palladium, who had similar messaging of exploiting the existing technologies and refining processes to drive revenue and deliver data on a more continual basis to the employees who can make the right decisions in real-time. This to me is a message of expansion and focus, rather than retrenchment and limitations. I heard a great deal about the continual need for data, an almost real-time need to do continuous planning and report on finer levels of granular information in a more automated fashion. The message was clear. BI is tops in priority and destined to gain more mindshare of senior IT executives as the business expands and focuses their growth. To grow and expand you always need Innovators who can do more with less, but also the visionaries who can see the gold amongst the rock.

1 comment:

Ron Dimon said...

Hi Suzanne,

Speaking of making use of BI technology to drive profitability, I read about AT&T's iPhone customer level profitability in CFO magazine this month. My blog about it is here:
http://businessfoundation.typepad.com/bf_blog/2008/05/iphone-customer.html

Looks like AT&T Mobility is interested in Finance Systems Innovation.
-Ron