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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Colin's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Scott Humphrey's Pacific Northwest BI Summit is my favorite event of the year. This is not only because it is at the Weasku Inn on the beautiful Rogue River in Oregon (which is only a 40 minute drive from Ashland where I live), but also because the vendors, consultants, and analysts who attend the event come together and share ideas in a unique way that is unlike any other event I attend during the year. Marketing hype and vendor competition are forgotten and everyone has down to earth formal and informal discussions on the state of the industry and its likely direction.

This year was the seventh year the event has been held and it surpassed even the excellence of previous summits. The four analysts and consultants (Jill Dyche, Claudia Imhoff, William McKnight, and myself) were joined by representatives from Composite Software, Dataflux, Eyeris, HP, IBM Cognos, Infocentricity, Microsoft, Paraccel, PivotLink, SAP Business Objects, Teradata, Xactly Corporation, and of course the BI Network.

The informal discussions covered a wide range of topics from BI to politics! The acquisition of Datallegro by Microsoft had just happened and this was a big topic of discussion. Although views varied, several people expressed the opinion that Microsoft was really buying an enterprise marketing position (especially against Oracle), rather than any real technology. By this time the industry blogging machine was working overtime and several blogs had already reported the purchase price to be $275 million, which staggered everyone.

Towards the end of the summit, news was leaking out that Bill Baker was leaving Microsoft and everyone agreed this was a tragic loss for the company. Microsoft is certainly going through some dramatic changes in the BI area.

The formal discussions focused on Software as a Service BI (led by Claudia Imhoff), CRM (led by Jill Dyche), Operational BI (led by myself) and IT Leadership (led by William McKnight). The volume of information and discussion is too lengthy to report here, but the BI Network will be releasing a number of podcasts on some of the discussions in the near future. Podcasts with each of the vendors are already available.

Some key points I got from these four sessions were:

1. There is considerable interest in SaaS BI by both vendors and customers. BI is being used not only by SMBs, but also groups within large organizations. SaaS BI is often used to get a project started and many companies would like to bring the project in house once it matures. Many people felt that the pay as your go model will gradually become the norm for both SaaS and on-premises solutions (as pointed out at the summit "on-premises" is correct English usage, but "on-premise" is not). Lastly, like in-house application packages in the past, SaaS companies and solutions will merge and be acquired to provide a set of application solutions, rather than remain as stand-alone silos.

2. CRM is going through a reemergence with companies focusing on micromarketing, social computing as a new CRM information source, and increased interest in master data management.

3. There was universal agreement that operational BI is a big growth area, but that the range of solutions and vendors both inside and outside BI is large and confusing. One point of discussion was the convergence of operational BI with business process management and complex event processing. Other discussions focused on the impact of operational BI being process driven, rather than data driven, and on whether BI is the best term to use to describe analytical and decision making solutions moving forward.

4. The discussion on IT leadership generated many different viewpoints. There was universal agreement that companies need to focus less on reducing IT costs, and more on recognizing IT as a essential business component of the organization, in the same way, for example, that HR is. There was also a lot of discussion about the need for IT to modernize its thinking, and create a more flexible governance environment to handle emerging technologies such as social computing.

The summit offered several opportunities to enjoy the many tourist activities of the Rogue River. The highlight for me was a visit to the Wildlife Images animal rehabilitation and education center. Everyone fell in love with a badger called Nubs with the result that the group donated $1,000 to support Nubs and other animals at the center.

I can't wait until next year!

Posted August 6, 2008 10:26 AM
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