Cool BI: Heading to the TDWI Forum in Chicago

Which key BI trends matter most? Cindi Howson explains the top seven innovations she and co-presenter Dave Stodder will discuss at the Cool BI Forum in Chicago in May.

By Cindi Howson, BI Scorecard

Cool BI is about the innovations and emerging trends that promise to re-invigorate your BI initiative, making BI more appealing, more pervasive, more insightful, and actionable. That’s the hype. What’s the reality?

I conducted my first Cool BI Webinar for TDWI in April, 2008. The Webinar was so popular that we later offered it as an annual half-day class that has often been standing-room only. At the inaugural Cool BI Forum, coming up in Chicago, May 7, my co-chair Dave Stodder and I are bringing you two full days of case studies, expert opinions, and panel discussions on these emerging trends.

In formulating the Cool BI course content, I was motivated by two things: stories from customers that had wowed me with their bleeding-edge approaches, and vendors developing cool capabilities. Some of these capabilities were only ideas in the labs of mega vendors, ideas that may or may not ever make it to market. Other solutions were from smaller vendors that have no marketing budget to tell you about their cool products.

My vision for the course, and now with the forum, is to get you excited about the possibilities and make you aware of solutions from vendors you may not otherwise hear from. In addition, we offer a framework for separating the practical from the hype.

Some of the key innovations covered in the forum include:

  • Visual discovery and dashboards
  • Mobile BI
  • In-memory computing
  • Geo-spatial analysis
  • Cloud BI
  • Big data
  • Social BI

I will share with you some perspectives on why these trends matter and what to expect at the forum.

A few years ago, if users wanted a dashboard developers had to custom code it, and the data wasn’t refreshed frequently. Now, mega vendors and specialty vendors alike offer packaged software that combines interactive, visual discovery with dashboards to help decision makers focus on the information that matters most. At the TDWI Forum in Chicago, you will hear inspiring case studies from the City of Austin, Texas Fire Department about their journey to self-service BI using QlikTech’s QlikView and from Seattle Children’s Hospital about how they improved patient care using Tableau.

Mobile BI, meanwhile, promises to bring BI to any device, anywhere, whether a smartphone or the latest iPad or Android tablets. Why aren’t more users asking for this, and what are the headaches associated with deployment? Biotech firm Life Technologies takes us on its journey of enabling mobile BI with specialty vendor RoambI while monitoring mobile capabilities from bigger BI vendors such as IBM Cognos. For mobile to succeed it has to be fast; this highlights the role of in-memory computing in mobile BI deployment, which we will hear about at the Forum. To cap off this discussion, look for the catfight -- I mean, panel discussion -- in which BI vendors will argue for the best approach to bringing mobile BI securely and powerfully to your enterprise.

Big Data and BI in the Cloud

In some circles, big data has become synonymous with Hadoop. Does everyone need such solutions? If you think about the volume, variety, and velocity of data, the time to insight has become more challenging in the world of big data. Technologies such as Hadoop, in-memory, or data warehouse appliances all have a role to play in addressing the big data challenge. At the Forum, you will learn from LinkedIn on how to architect for big data and to foster an analytic culture.

Cloud BI promises to speed the time to deployment so that IT no longer has to own and maintain the BI infrastructure on-premise. It also promises easier integration with cloud data sources such as and human resources services emerging in the cloud. What about security and losing control of company data? With recent Amazon failures, perhaps cloud BI is not ready for prime time. At the Forum, the Royal Bank of Canada will share its cloud BI journey and implementation of Birst. In addition, industry expert Steve Dine will provide insights on what works and what to watch out for with cloud BI.

This is just a glimpse of a few of the sessions we will see at the Cool BI TDWI Forum. You can preview the full agenda of case studies and expert sessions on the TDWI Web site or catch this upcoming Webinar in which Dave and I discuss some key BI trends and offer some TDWI Forum highlights. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago.

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