IBM IOD Opening Session: ACM and Analytics

I’m at IBM’s Information On Demand (IOD) conference this week, attending the opening session. There are 10,000 attendees here (including, I assume, IBM employees) for a conference that covers information management of all sorts: databases, analytics and content management. As at other large vendor conferences, they feel obligated to assault our senses in the morning with loud performance art: today, it’s Japanese drummers (quite talented, and thankfully short). From a logistics standpoint, the wifi fell to its knees before the opening session even started (what, like you weren’t expecting this many people??); IBM could learn a few lessons about supporting social media attendees from SAP, which provided a social media section with tables, power and wired internet to ensure that our messages got out in a timely fashion.

Getting back to the session, it was hosted by Mark Jeffries, who provides some interesting and amusing commentary between sessions, told us the results of the daily poll, and moderated some of the Q&A sessions; I’ve seen him at other conferences and he does a great job. First up from IBM is Robert LeBlanc (I would Google his title, but did I mention that there’s no wifi in here as I type?), talking about how the volume of information is exploding, and yet people are starved for the right information at the right time: most business people say that it’s easier to get information on the internet than out of their own internal systems. Traditional information management – database and ECM – is becoming tightly tied with analytics, since you need analytics to make decisions based on all that information, and gain insights that help to optimize business.

They ran some customer testimonial videos, and the term “advanced case management” came up early and often: I sense that this is going to be a theme for this conference, along with the theme of being analytics-driven to anticipate and shape business outcomes.

LeBlanc was then joined on stage by two customers: Mike Dreyer of Visa and Steve Pratt of CenterPoint Energy. In both cases, these organizations are leveraging information in order to do business better, for example, Visa used analytics to determine that “swipe-and-go” for low-value neighborhood transactions such as Starbucks were so low risk that they didn’t need immediate verification, speeding each transaction and therefore getting your morning latte to you faster. CenterPoint, an energy distributor, uses advanced metering and analytics not only for end-customer metering, but to monitor the health of the delivery systems so as to avoid downtimes and optimize delivery costs. They provided insights into how to plan and implement an information management strategy, from collecting the right data to analyzing and acting on that information.

We then heard from Arvind Krishna, IBM’s GM of Information Management, discussing the cycle of information management and predictive analytics, including using analytics and event processing to optimize real-time decisions and improve enterprise visibility. He was then joined on a panel by Rob Ashe, Fred Balboni and Craig Hayman, moderated by Mark Jeffries; this started to become more of the same message about the importance of information management and analytics. I think that they put the bloggers in the VIP section right in front of the stage so that we don’t bail out when it starts to get repetitive. I’m looking forward to attending some of the more in-depth sessions to hear about the new product releases and what customers are doing with them.

Since the FileNet products are showcased at IOD, this is giving me a chance to catch up with a few of my ex-FileNet friends from when I worked there in 2000-1: last night’s reception was like old home week with lots of familiar faces, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with more of them over the next three days. Looking at the all-male group of IBM executives speaking at the keynote, however, reminded me why I’m not there any more.

Disclosure: In addition to providing me with a free pass to the conference, IBM paid my travel expenses to be here this week. I flew Air Canada coach and am staying at the somewhat tired Luxor, so that’s really not a big perq.

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