Information Builders Inc. held its annual Summit event this week in Orlando, where executives showcases the new features of WebFocus 8 and explored the concept of pervasive, predictive business intelligence. Here are a few other items seen and heard:
1. A comedian (whose name I somehow missed) tried to liven up the keynote with jokes about IBI and the need for some really good books to better understand its products and services. This included a number of Dr. Seuss ripoffs, including, “Horton Hears A Lot of People Whining About Not Getting Into the Lab Session They Wanted.”
2. While most presenters acknowledged that the user experience and interface for BI applications is getting better, IDC’s Dan Vesset probably put it best: “People are expecting an Google-like experience, even if they don’t have any background in analytics.”
3. The keynote from Gerry Cohen was marred somewhat by a few PowerPoint errors. Cohen explained to the audience that while his right-hand man, Michael Corcoran, uses PowerPoint 2007, he’s still on version 2003.
4. The Gaylord Palms Resort, where the event took place, had a few chairs scattered throughout the Convention Centre which were so big, attendees looked like dwarves sitting in them between sessions.
5. One of the more interesting customer awards given out at Summit went to U.S. Air Force Mobility Command, which apparently used some of IBI’s business intelligence software for the relief effort in Haiti.
6. Gerry Cohen made it a point to try and make an appearance at every single IBI Summit session. In at least one case his sudden entry mid-way through a presentation threw the speaker off his game, forcing him to try and come back to a point later on (by which point Cohen had left again).
7. Proving that the iPad is the new iPhone (which in return was the new iPod), IBI offered one of Apple’s latest devices as a prize draw for one of the contests it ran during the Summit.
8. The most popular snack during the conference were some oversized muffins which were scrupulously guarded by hotel staff until the keynote session was completely over, at which point they were served to attendees one at a time. They were still gone in less than half an hour, proving that the only thing IT people go through faster than data is food.