/ 2014 Gartner BI & Analytics Summit: 4 Key Takeaways

I spent the last week in Vegas. No, I was not there for the gambling; I attended Gartner’s Business Intelligence and Analytics Summit. It is the preeminent event for IT and BI folks. Thousands of the world’s largest companies send their data and reporting gurus to gather among peers to discuss insights and industry trends.

Since my company was a sponsor, I got to be a fly on the wall amongst the “data elite.” Here are my major takeaways:

  1. The cloud will rule us all. One of the Gartner analysts talked about how “2014 is the tipping point for cloud-based business intelligence.” The majority of the BI initiatives undertaken in 2014 will be cloud based. Another analyst joked about “what happens in the cloud stays in the cloud.” With the adoption of more cloud-based software solutions (think salesforce.com and Workday), companies will be keeping their data in the cloud for their business intelligence solutions, as well. Finally, Gartner’s research stated that most small- to mid-size businesses turn to cloud for business intelligence solutions. The research also indicated that the cloud was the primary choice for “departmental reporting solutions” in large enterprises. The cloud is here and growing.
  2. Make it simple. Make it pretty. Most of the success stories on stage were around IT departments delivering easy-to-use, easy-to-consume data to their key stakeholders. The IT and BI folks were most proud when they could be the hero to the executive team delivering data in the way the business folks wanted it—mobile, real-time and pretty. Additionally, a ton of prospects came to our booth who already use the competition. They have heavy deployments of large business intelligence vendors. Although they are not looking to ditch those investments, they are interested in finding a solution that can sit on top. They still do not have a usable solution for the average executive.
  3. The quest for the complete picture continues. Despite all of the hype around advanced analytics, most companies are still struggling with getting all of their information in one place. IT and BI teams are still challenged with making sure the data is “right”. Line of business executives want to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. Combining data from multiple sources is still a challenge for most organizations.
  4. To measure or not to measure. Shockingly, department heads are still struggling with what to measure. I had dinner with a CIO who talked about how her CMO has not delivered details on what he wants to see in his marketing dashboard. He is still debating what to measure. This CIO wanted to make sure that the business intelligence solution they chose had industry best practices and subject matter expertise so she would not be waiting on an executive to deliver the right reports and dashboards. A wise decision.

As a self-proclaimed “data-driven geek,” I always find Gartner to be a great opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s geekiest. And, I managed to win $100 at the blackjack table. All in all, it was a solid week. Thanks, Gartner, for a great show.