What I Found Interesting About Gartner BI Summit 2012 London

Timo Elliott

Gartner BI Summit 2012 london

As always, it was a huge pleasure to catch up with customers, colleagues, analysts, partners, and competitors at one of Europe’s largest BI conferences. It was a great show overall, and I came away even more optimistic about analytics for the coming year.

Here are Jason Rose and I having an off-the-cuff discussion of what we found interesting about the latest Gartner BI Summit 2012 in London this week:

And here are some longer thoughts about the conference compared to previous years:

The band played on: Gartner analysts Nigel Rayner and Andreas Bitterer performed the opening live show, loosely based on Tubeway Army’s “Are Friends Electric”, to tie in with the opening keynote analogy of “information as electricity” (I’m a fan of ‘80s electronica, but it might have been more fun to have something by AC/DC with Nigel as Angus Young… )


It’s no longer Business Intelligence! Gartner has bowed down to the market trend and dropped the unwieldy category name “Business Intelligence and Performance Management” in favor of the simpler umbrella term “Business Analytics”, following in the footsteps of other analysts (e.g. IDC) and vendors (SAS, SAP, etc.). There was also a shift from BI Competency Centers (BICCs) to Business Analytic Teams (BATs) – apparently because the word “center” (a) doesn’t really represent the reality of diversified real-world organizational structures and (b) has a negative connotation in the US (think of your experiences with shared service centers).

Was it just a simple name change? There was a half-hearted attempt in some sessions to associate Business Analytics with “more than BI”, emphasizing that business change must be the result, not just reports. This is of course absolutely true and essential – but this was always part of their previous category definition. It was clearly a recent change: all the conference content reflected the old naming.

Should we care about this change? No! Here’s an blog I wrote a while ago on business intelligence vs business analytics, with the conclusion: “everybody has an opinion, nobody knows, and you shouldn’t care”. In particular, if you need to continue to call it “business intelligence” to communicate with somebody who is comfortable with that term, then you should continue using it!


Analytics is hot! The conference was literally packed, with people uncomfortably stuffed into a slightly too-small venue. Every indicator pointed towards analytics having another banner year – it’s back to the #1 technology priority for CIOs, it’s estimated to be growing at 10%, faster than overall IT spending, and the number of users is set to rise to 50% by 2014. Next year’s Gartner BI Summit (BA Summit?) is going to be in Barcelona, and that decision is apparently at least in part because of the need for extra space.

Less technology, more business, more success. Last year’s opening keynote presentation was about the “four Vs”: volume, variety, velocity and validity, and talked a fair amount about technology. This year the emphasis had very clearly moved to business value – emphasizing the “why” rather than the “how” – analytics has to support business decision making and result in business innovation. I attended several excellent sessions on how to make analytics sessions more successful – for example, emphasizing that 20-30% of your time should be spent on “marketing” your analytic solution.

Tell stories, and make a difference. Out of the nominees for the Gartner BI Excellence awards, Medway Youth Trust shone out. They would have been favorites for the award anyway, because they are doing social work for the community, but there were three other other good reasons they won over the other nominees:

  1. While all the nominees had clearly done a great job of successfully implementing business intelligence in their organizations, Medway had the best case for both “technical innovation” (using text analytics to get value from unstructured information) and “business innovation” (the data really make a difference to their organization, by allowing them to focus their limited resources on the key business goal)
  2. As a small organization, they showed that you don’t need to have a big budget or a big team of people in order for analytics to make a difference.
  3. They told their story better. In particular, a Spanish insurance company did a slick presentation about the corporate benefits of their standardized BI efforts, and quoted some impressive figures, but there wasn’t really a concrete example of how they had really made a difference that the audience could connect with.

Overall, it reminded me how vital it is to have real stories to tell people when trying to sell the benefits of your project – ROI isn’t enough: it has to be about people, and (surprising) business change.


Validation of current trends. Analytic technology trends were covered in in-depth sessions:

  • Gartner called in-memory a “strategic imperative”, and advised that organizations should look at in-memory as “a quantum leap in their computing strategy” because “dramatically faster data access can profoundly change the nature of some applications”
  • Mobile business intelligence is clearly now a given in the market – for example, all the participants of the vendor panel agreed that mobile BI is not going to be a long-term differentiator (although the underlying mobile device management certainly still might be).
  • Cloud BI is still something for the future for most attendees – for many, only when the underlying operational systems are themselves running in the cloud.
  • Sessions on social networking analytics and operational analytics were no longer marginal, with full crowds.
  • The topic of “big data” – or “extreme data” as Gartner prefers to call it – is embedded in the new notion of a “logical data warehouse” that is poised to replace today’s more monolithic structures. One analyst mentioned that big Gartner customers were ripping up their current data warehousing plans and adapting them to the new technology possibilities. A session on big data by Roxanne Edjlali (formerly with Business Objects) was well-attended and well-received.

Big data not big enough? Overall, I don’t think Gartner had quite taken enough account of the appetite for more information about big data topics such as Hadoop, data science, etc. Every session with big data in the title was completely packed, and there didn’t seem to be many people from those communities at the show. I hope that Gartner’s conference team targets the big data constituency more aggressively next year — it would be a shame if people with the same underlying goals (turning information into business innovation) end up going to different conferences just because of some differences in the technologies they use (big data conferences are booming).


Fail in the right direction. Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist, was the guest keynote speaker. His presentation was very entertaining, but in general only tangentially related to analytics. The overall theme did resonate, however: that nobody has all the answers, and that it’s only through being humble about your knowledge that you have a change to succeed. The key is to “fail in the right direction”: make experiments, iterate, and learn from experience in order to move ever closer to better solutions.

Overall theme: going with the flow? This wasn’t really mentioned at the show, but if I had to pick one overall theme, it would be the move from batch-based BI to a greater appreciation of information flow, at every level of implementing systems and consuming information. New data warehouse technologies allow organizations to gather and structure information faster (and this is important: Bill Hostmann estimated that fully 70% of the requirements of a BI project change in the first year alone). Data discovery tools allow business people to iteratively structure and access new information in new ways. And businesses are realizing that analytics isn’t just something that you use to improve business processes: it can and should be part of the business processes themselves.

My presentation at the conference, “Business In the Moment, From Reactive to Proactive” was along the same lines – while there has been lots of technology change over the coming year, many organizations are still struggling to turn that new technology into business innovation opportunities. I talked about the big changes in the technology landscape and gave examples of organizations that had used these technologies to transform the way they did business, through removing business bottlenecks, rethinking business processes, or flipping business models to an “analytics first” approach.

You can download the slides in Microsoft Powerpoint or Adobe PDF format, and I’ll explain the main themes in a separate post (update: 2012: The Year Analytics Means Business). I look forward to Barcelona next year!


About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an innovation evangelist and international conference speaker who has presented to business and IT audiences in over forty countries around the world. A 23-year veteran of SAP BusinessObjects, Elliott works closely with SAP development and innovation centers around the world on new technology directions. His popular Business Analytics blog at tracks innovation in analytics and social media, including topics such as big data, collaborative decision-making, and social analytics. Prior to Business Objects, Elliott was a computer consultant in Hong Kong and led analytics projects for Shell in New Zealand. He holds a first-class honors degree in Economics with Statistics from Bristol University, England.



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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.


About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies. Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book "The Millennial CEO." Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter. Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5). A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

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Is Digital Business the Answer to the Climate Crisis?

Kai Goerlich

By Kai Goerlich, Michael Goldberg, Will Ritzrau

Among the studies of climate change that indict human inventions and activities for the ecological damage done to the earth, there is a hopeful glimmer that digital business can bend the curve to reduce carbon emissions. According to #SMARTer2030, a study by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture Strategy, it is possible, during the next 15 years, to hold worldwide carbon emissions to 2015 levels by digitizing business processes and applying data to decisions about resource use. That would represent a valuable contribution, according to the research, in decoupling economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to solve the tradeoff between the two.

SAP looked at a subset of companies in six major industries that are currently using business software such as enterprise resource planning, data analytics, supply chain, logistics, production planning, resource optimization, and remote access. Then SAP did their own analysis to estimate how applying these technologies to emerging digital business models in these industries globally would contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

The “Business as Usual” Scenario

The heat is on. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world body established in 1988 to assess the impact of humans on the climate, notes in its most recent report that “business as usual” practices would lead to temperature increases between 2.6°C and 4.8°C by the end of the century—beyond our expected ability to reverse the damage.

More IT = Less CO2

By rolling out information and communications technologies (ICT) across the global economy, total emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent could be cut 12.1 gigatons by 2030 and help forestall temperature increases, GeSI research has concluded. GeSI is an ICT industry association working with, among others, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to improve its members’ sustainability performance and promote technologies that foster sustainable development.


About Kai Goerlich

Futurist and resource optimization thought leader

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