After more than 20 years in the technology industry, I attended my first Gartner Summit in Las Vegas last week. In fact, I attended two, back to back -- Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics followed by Master Data Management (MDM). Yes, it was a long week. However, I came away educated, energized, and inspired by the spirited combination of innovative vendors, passionate attendees and thought provoking speakers.
Mark Jeffries, one of the excellent keynote speakers, advised that ideas are best communicated in threes (e.g., blood, sweat, and tears). However, I am going to ignore that advise and share six observations that made the week worthwhile, beginning with good news for those of us in the industry...
- Technology is back! Respect for technology that is. CEOs want to be known for leveraging technology the way Google and Apple do. This is helping to drive exposure and investment for data projects.
- BI/Analytics is a top concern for CEOs (2014 Gartner BI Study) and Data is a hot topic -- both conferences were sold out with more than 2,100 attending the BI event.
- BI is evolving into data discovery -- canned reports are being replaced with interactive self-service tools for business users. 50% of organizations are looking at cloud deployment for their BI in 2014.
- Search is transforming too. Google, Siri and others are making search more useful by using semantics to go beyond keywords to deliver results based on meaning. As with other consumer-first technologies, this is going to raise the bar for enterprise search -- the "question/answer" paradigm is coming.
- Many organizations have appointed a Chief Data Officer, particularly in regulated industries. The CDO most often reports to the COO though some do report to the CIO. Gartner predicts that 17% of organizations will have a CDO by the end of 2014 and that this will continue to grow in coming years. The CDO typically owns data governance, strategy and quality and is the bridge for data between the business and IT.
- Big data is a hot topic but still mostly experimental -- fewer than 8% of projects have made it to production. Many folks I spoke with view big data as a solution looking for a problem to solve or cheap and easy way to combine disparate data that is then difficult to consume. There is growing interest in conceptual model driven approaches to making the data more consumable. This increases the importance of emerging industry standard semantic models such as the Financial Industry Business Ontology (FIBO) from OMG and the EDM Council.
In addition to the general sessions, I also attended an excellent keynote presentation from Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil is an accomplished inventor, now working on artificial intelligence at Google. You can read more about his thinking here but his most fascinating prediction is that we will conquer human aging through genetic engineering within 10-20 years. We could still be run over by a bus but Google is working on technology to fix that too (see self-driving cars).
In summary, Gartner should be congratulated on two excellent events with strong presentations, high-caliber attendees and flawless execution.
Marty Loughlin is Vice President, Financial Services at Cambridge Semantics Inc. Prior to joining Cambridge Semantics, Marty was the Managing Director for EMC's consulting business in Boston. His 25 year career has focused on helping clients leverage transformative technologies to drive business results, most recently in Cloud and Big Data. Prior to joining EMC in 2005, Marty was co-founder and COO of Granitar, a web consultancy that grew to 250 people in four years and served clients such as State Street Co., The New York Times and Standard & Poor's. Marty began his career in Ireland with Digital Equipment Co. He holds a B. Eng. from Dublin City University and a High Tech MBA from Northeastern University.