This is a big conference. We’re in the Mandalay Bay Events Center, which is a stadium that would probably hold a hockey rink, and although all the seats are not full, it’s a pretty big turnout. This is IBM’s centennial, which is a theme throughout the conference, and the opening session started with some key points in the history of IBM’s products. IBM might seem like a massive, slow-moving ship at times, but there is no doubt that they’ve been an innovator through the entire age of modern computing. I just hope to be seeing some of that innovation in their ECM and ACM products this week.
The keynote session was hosted by Katty Kay, a BBC news journalist in the Washington bureau, who added a lot of interesting business and social context to the presentations.
Jeff Jonas spoke about analytics, pointing out that with the massive amounts of data available to enterprises, enterprises are actually getting dumber because they’re not analyzing and correlating that data in context. He used a jigsaw puzzle metaphor: you don’t know what any particular piece means until you see it in relation to the others with which it fits. You also don’t need all of the pieces in the puzzle to understand the big picture: context accumulates with each new observation, and at some point, confidence improves while computational effort decreases.
He looked at two sides of analytics – sense and respond, and explore and reflect – and how they fit into the activity of achieving insight. If the keynotes are available online, definitely watch Jonas’ presentation: he’s funny and insightful in equal measure, and has a great example of a test he ran with jigsaw puzzles and human cognition. He went much too fast for me to keep up in these notes, and I’ll be watching it again if I can find it. The only problem was that his presentation ruined me for the rest of the keynotes, which seemed dull in comparison. 🙂
Sarah Diamond was up next to talk about the challenges facing financial institutions, and how analytics can support the transformation of these organizations by helping them to manage risk more effectively. She introduced a speaker from SunTrust, and IBM customer, who spoke about their risk management practices based around shared data warehousing and reporting services. Another SunTrust speaker then talked about how they use analytics in the context of other activities, such as workflow. A good solid case study, but not sure that this was worth such a big chunk of the main keynote.
Mike Rhodin spoke about how innovation across industries is opening new possibilities for business optimization, particularly where analytics create a competitive advantage. Analytics are no longer a nice-to-have, but an imperative for even staying in business: the performance gap between the winners and losers in business is growing, and is fueled in part by the expedient use of analytics to generate insights that allow for business optimization. Interestingly, marketing and finance are the big users of analytics; only 25% of HR leaders are using analytics to help them with hiring an effective workforce.
Robert LeBlanc discussed how the current state of information from everywhere, radical flexibility and extreme scalability impacts organizations’ information strategy, and challenged the audience to consider if their information strategy is bold enough to live in this new environment. Given that 30% of organizations surveyed reported that they don’t even know what to do with analytics, it’s probably safe to say that there are some decidedly meek information strategies out there. Information – both data and unstructured content – can come from anywhere, both inside and outside your organization, meaning that the single-repository dream is really just a fantasy: repositories need to be federated and integrated so that analytics can be applied on all of the sources where they live, allowing you to exploit information from everywhere. He pointed out the importance of leveraging your unstructured information as part of this.
The keynote finished with Arvind Krishna – who will be giving another full keynote later today – encouraging the audience to take the lead on turning insight into action. He summarized this week’s product announcements: DB2 Analytics Accelerator, leveraging Netezza; IMS 12; IBM Content and Predictive Analytics for Healthcare; IBM Case Manager v5.1, bringing together BPM and case management; InfoSphere MDM 10; InfoSphere Information Server 8.7; InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management Self Service Center; Cognos native iPad support; Cognos BI v10.1.1. He also announced that they closed the Algorithmics acquisition last week, and that they will be acquiring Q1 Labs for security intelligence and risk management. He spoke about their new products, InfoSphere BigInsights and InfoSphere Streams, which we’ll be hearing about more in tomorrow’s keynote.