Every year we look forward to Summit, our annual user conference -- and for good reason. It brings together our customers and partners with key Information Builders executives and product experts, industry analysts and journalists, mixes us up with new and thought-provoking ideas, and creates a unique environment for dialogue, learning, and professional development.
We came away inspired by the fresh direction the company and products are going, the renewed commitment by COO Frank Vella to our customer-focused culture, and the innovative work of organizations using our products. In an era of technology connections, we also truly enjoyed making personal connections with each other. Many life-long friendships begin at Summit!
Here are my top 10 takeaways from our time in Orlando.
Be Data and Heart Driven. It’s clear that data has a top seat at the business table. As Gartner’s Rita Salam said in her packed session, “Analytics is strategic to digital transformation. Organizations must align data strategy to embrace and support the disruption.” This theme resonated through so many sessions that I attended, but it was also clear that in being data-driven, organizations must think about ethics, privacy, transparency, trust communications, and culture – in other words, you can’t lose touch with core human values. In fact, they are more important than ever.
IT and Business: Get a Room! We’ve been talking about the alignment between IT and business for a while now, but it’s nice to see these relationships blossoming. In most presentations, IT and Business were the same team, driving towards the same goals, true partners. This ties back up to Takeaway #1 above…when data and analytics are strategic, people with the skills, knowledge and aptitude to weave data and analytics into core processes must join forces. This came out loud and clear in the advice from United Way on lessons learned from building their BI application, “Let the business needs be a touchstone for you throughout the journey.”
Talk to Your Data. There are so many new and fun ways to interact with data and to use data to tell a story. We saw the latest WebFOCUS capability to create infographics on the main stage general session. The key here is how they can be integrated into your BI portal and easily shared and distributed. We also saw how BI products like WebFOCUS are evolving to allow users to interact through voice controls – with simple commands like “show me” and “tell me”, you can get answers from your data so easily. We’re turning the notion of a traditional user interface on its head and I can only begin to imagine all the exciting use cases that will come out of this.
This is the Modern World. Attendees saw the results of ongoing commitment to modernization of our products reflected everywhere. Frank Vella opened Summit saying, “We’ve heard you” and proceeded to show the radical improvements to the WebFOCUS user interface to accelerate time to value for our customers and partners – and just make the product even more of a delight to use. We also saw the roadmap for the iWay and Omni data management product line, which was directly pointed towards modern data architecture and the huge opportunity to use integration and master data management to optimize data for analytics and other purposes.
Data in the Life. One of the best things about working for Information Builders is feeling proud of the game-changing applications that our customers and partners build with our technology. Applications that impact the life of their business, and improve the lives of their employees, customers and partners, citizens and communities. Summit is the ideal place to hear these stories. I was wowed by the modern policing initiatives at Michigan State Police and York Regional Police; the drive to improve non-profit performance at United Way, DMI’s focus on unprecedented insights about physical assets using IoT analytics, community dashboards to help connect and empower citizens in the City of Tyler TX, cool visual warehouse applications at Lipari Foods, Halifax Health and numerous healthcare organizations using data and analytics for patient-centered care and value, and so many more great stories! There are too many to mention here, but please check out our customer stories and see how these organizations are changing the world.
The 3i Story. Every software vendor gets asked, “How are you guys different?” Our answer is Integration, Integrity and Intelligence; what we call “the 3 i’s”. It simply shows that we not only offer our customers the ability to get actionable insights, but that we also provide the technology platform to base those insights on trusted data. It’s one smart integrated platform that can tackle even the most complicated data environments. Gerry Cohen asked the audience during the Ask the Executives closing session, “Is there any problem you can’t solve with WebFOCUS?” And the crowd responded with a resounding, “No!” With more complex types and increasing volumes of data, the 3i’s give us the breadth and depth that other vendors don’t have.
Partner Up. Information Builders’ Solution Pavilion was buzzing this year with so many resellers and solution providers with exciting ways to add value to our customers’ solutions, and to extend our reach into the marketplace. One of the most exciting was the announcement on our relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to become a Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN). Now we can bring simplified, cloud-based, and fully managed business intelligence, data integrity, and integration solutions to the market. We are thrilled with the innovative solutions our partners are bringing to market, and their focus on customer experience and real business value. As one partner from AmtexBI remarked, “I can do everything with Information Builders.”
Women In Technology. We hosted our first breakfast meet-up to discuss the career trajectories, challenges, and insights about women working in technology. Moderated by Information Builders Vice President Melissa Treier, the panelists included Karen Lopez, Donna Burbank, Lyndsay Wise and Claudia Imhoff. It was a lively and candid discussion that covered everything from wardrobe (more dresses with pockets please!) to choosing your mentors wisely to how important it is for men to be a part of the conversation when it comes to advocating for women in tech. I loved the positive energy of these incredibly smart women who are great examples of believing in yourself, trusting your instincts, and living your own truth. The camaraderie and mutual respect between them was also plain to see.
Who’s Who of Industry Analysts. We want to thank all of the top analysts that brought their analytics A-game and helped make Summit a success. Follow them on Twitter to keep getting daily doses of their wisdom, guidance, and expertise: @Claudia_Imhoff @donnaburbank @datachick @wiseanalytics @rsallam @dmenningervr @bevelson @howarddresner @DanVesset @chagopal @Ron_J_Powell and Julie Beard.
Future So Bright. In the hallways at IB, you’ll often hear people say they feel like they work for a 43-year old start up. We’re energized by new leadership, yet grounded by our history and continued focus on creating value for customers. Summit gave us the perfect platform to demonstrate to our customers and partners that we are ready for the next chapter in our history. We have never been more excited about the market opportunity, and our ability to capitalize on that opportunity though the most innovative, scalable and enterprise-class products that put data and analytics at the center of everything.
If you missed the exciting news and announcements from Summit, read them here.
Information Bloggers is a conversation between people at the nexus of business analytics, mobile apps, cloud computing, social media, and big data. Together we are developing information management strategies that change behavior and transform business. Many of us work for Information Builders and, as such, are passionate about customer satisfaction and dedicated to excellence. Our views are our own. Welcome to the discussion!