Earlier this month, I attended ThoughtSpot’s first customer conference in Washington, DC, along with about 700 other customers, prospects, and partners.
As first conferences go, it was both large in attendance and inspiration. For me, it’s the random customer conversations at breakfast or in the hallway that are invaluable (that’s you, Al, Vincent, Rajeev….). There were many new customers just getting started, some deploying ThoughtSpot to serve a new segment of BI users; a few as replacements to popular analytics and BI tools. As one customer said to me, ThoughtSpot seemed to be one of the few tools where users are not just exporting to Excel. But lest you think it’s all rosy conversations, the customers who also so willingly spoke about product limitations assured me that we got our assessment right in the Critical Capabilities note.
It was interesting for me to hear from the co founders, Ajeet Singh and Amit Prakash on how the company started largely over conversations in Starbucks with ideas doodled on the back of a napkin. Singh talked about the company’s mission to create “fact driven world.” It seems to me to be a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), as management guru Jim Collins would describe. If I reflect on some of my family’s own Thanksgiving dinner table conversations, I’d say we need to start to change the thinking in elementary school to accomplish such a goal. Emotions and gut-feel increasingly seem to rule, and I keep wondering how much of this is because facts are still too hard for most people to get to, at least in our analytics world. New CEO Sudheesh Nair spoke of how democratizing access to insight can paves the way for digital transformation — data insight is the accelerant.
Co-founder and CTO Prakash and evangelist Angela Hooper gave a demo of SearchIQ with a new ThoughtSpot Assistant. SearchIQ is a conversational analytics interface via a mobile phone, currently in beta. ThoughtSpot Assistant, meanwhile is similar in concept to Amazon Alexa. To be honest, I almost missed this nuance in the keynote and later caught up with Prakash at the demo both. ThoughtSpot has built their own voice device because some of their clients are the biggest names in tech who do not want business conversations on competitors’ devices, nor bouncing back and forth to the cloud. (see our note on Top 10 trends and conversational platforms).
The customer panels were informative and reveal some interesting trends. Snowflake was the popular platform of choice for cloud customers including Allergan and Hulu. ThoughtSpot also announced new partnerships with DataRobot and Alteryx.
The guest keynotes were so inspiring. If you had asked me beforehand if a session on mindfulness and a group meditation would have worked on a business and analytics crowd, I would have said “no.” But Vanessa Loder accomplished just that. The extra hour of productivity Aetna employees experienced from practicing mindfulness was convincing. And Harvard professor and author Francesca Gino (Rebel Talent) got people dancing with strangers. Billy Beane is always entertaining and informative.
After 10 hours of content, I didn’t think I’d last for the evening reception with two football greats, Ronnie Lott and Redskins Quarterback Alex Smith. Really, I went more for my son’s benefit, who taught me most of what I know about them and the game. We’ve been loyal Packers fans for the last decade and I hadn’t followed the Redskins much since my college years in Maryland. So it was heartbreaking to read about Smith’s devastating injury a few days later, when I still remember Joe Theismann’s so freshly. Smith said a few things at the conference that I hope will serve him well as he recovers:
- Negative emotions are about the past or the future. They hijack the present moment.
- If what you want is different than what you currently have, then you need to change what you are doing. Urban Myer taught him to embrace change.
- He had one scholarship offer and Aaron Rodgers had none. So don’t ever let the experts or naysayers turn you away.
We wish you a speedy recovery, Alex! Thank you, Ronnie, for telling us about Smith’s foundation for youth, I thought a donation would be better than a get well card.
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