Last month I was lucky enough to again participate at our Data and Analytics Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but this year, with a touch more pressure. Here is a behind the scenes look at a keynote and a summit.
Donald Feinberg, our summit chair, asked if I would do the keynote with him this year. I have done keynotes over the course of my years as an analyst, but not since joining Gartner, and I was stressed. It’s a bigger stage – with over 900 attendees – and high expectations, from attendees and colleagues alike. I am also a much better ad libber than someone who can follow a script. So that expression, “never let them see you sweat,” just doesn’t apply to me. Trust me: I sweat.
I knew from my co-workers that doing a keynote requires a lot of rehearsal time, but I underestimated the co-ordination and magic behind the scenes. When the key note has video and slides interwoven, with two speakers, it’s important to get the timing right, while making it appear seamless. Our tech crew was amazing!
Scarcity and Abundance
Every year, the script is brainstormed and developed by a team of contributors. Much of this year’s keynote was led by Kurt Schlegel, inspired by a book his father recommended: Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, by Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler. The idea of scarcity and abundance is so apt for data and analytics right now. We have SO MUCH data and yet a scarcity of talent and skills to leverage that data. (Here is Kurt and team”s note on the keynote’s themes and recommendations).
History has repeatedly shown us that new technology eventually reaches the masses, over time. Like air travel, brought to us by the Wright Brothers – or so I thought – until Donald educated me that it was really a Brazilian Santos Dumont. Who knew!?! Air travel initially was only for experts and the elite; it’s mainstream now, available to the masses. How many decades did it take to really get to mainstream? BI is about 25 years mature (older if we count mainframe DSS), and yet, based on our new note on BI adoption rates, the use of BI and analytics continues to remain mostly in the hands of power users.
Fortunately for all of us, the keynote went well, and our post keynote reward were these amazing little chocolate croissants. If you’ve been following my blog or twitter for a while, you know too that I am a coffee snob: simple black coffee, ideally Starbucks. I was both relieved and thrilled that the coffee in São Paulo, was fabulous. I even found a Brazilian blend to bring home.
Interactive Magic Quadrants and More
We needed the sugar and caffeine rush because we were a tad anxious about another main stage event at the end of a long day: an MQ Power Hour. At all of the data and analytics summits this year, we have been trying to make sure that people see and use the full body of research when evaluating vendors and products. Do we dare show the research notes live and interactive? It’s pushing all the boundaries of technology (Wi-Fi, iPad, Apple TV, gartner.com) to do it live. We dared, again.
For sure we needed to. At the summit, 90% of attendees had never seen the Critical Capabilities before (dagger to my heart), and most were unaware that the MQ and Critical Capabilities reports are interactive. If you want a product-only view of strengths and weaknesses, use the Critical Capabilities. If you want a view of other execution and strategic factors, use the MQ. We also showed the MQ overlay of Peer Insights, our crowd-sourced ratings coming up on its one year anniversary. If you are not familiar with these resources or their interactive versions, please set up an inquiry with any of us!
Cloud BI and Beautiful Beaches
I also presented on cloud BI trends and adoption. Normally, I like to start the session with a tie-in to when we don’t like the cloud, like not at the beach! I admit, even my beautiful New Jersey shore was a pale comparison to Natal. (Do we have any customers there I can visit next year?). On the one hand, cloud BI has more adoption in Latin America than in the rest of the world (see the new BI and Analytics Spending Intentions note). But in the public sector in Brazil, cloud is generally not allowed it seems. For sure, some of the big vendors have been late to have data centers in Brazil, or rely on partners, while smaller cloud BI vendors have no presence at all. But in a challenging economy, cloud offers lower startup costs and pay-as-you-go approach. Indeed, it may be more expensive over time as Adam Ronthal describes in this note.
In addition to presentations, it is always nice to meet with clients in one-on-ones, similar to our 30 minute inquiry calls but in person. Attendee Renan Souza made my day when he told me he had read several of my books and articles over the years, before I came to Gartner.
Beyond the Summit
Ahead of the summit, I was able to go for a jog along the bike path that runs through the city on Sundays. It’s an awesome path with crossing guards at every intersection. I made it to Parque do Povo, filled with people picnicking, roller blading, and hanging out. It reminded me of the years I lived in Switzerland, in which Sundays are for leisure and all the stores are closed.
Most of us work virtually, so while we often speak by phone and video conference, it’s rare that we get together in person. The analyst dinner at a Brazilian steak house was a high point, and I scored some Chimichurri to bring home. Take a bunch of analysts from so many countries and you can imagine the political, religious, social, technical, and cooking discussions! We didn’t solve world peace yet, but we are working on it!
Regards, Cindi Howson
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