Nine things seen & heard at IBM Information On Demand

LAS VEGAS—There was the release of Cognos 10 and DB2 10 to much fanfare at IBM’s Information On Demand conference, the annual user event about data management and business analytics by the Armonk, New York vendor. Besides that, here are a few other things seen and heard …

1.The opening keynote at IBM’s Information On Demand conference featured an upbeat performance of f
emale Japanese drumming band Kobe that made up for the absence of the usual big-name celebrity. That morning, 10,014 attendees were registered: “We cracked the magic number this morning,” proudly announced senior vice-president of middleware Robert LeBlanc onstage.

2.IBM has made something like 24 acquisitions in the last five which has cost it no less than $14 billion. But there is method to the madness, explained Arvind Krishna, IBM’s general manager of information management: “Building out the portfolio has been a sustained journey,” said Krishna.

3.Cognos 10 buttons and stickers for everyone! Cognos 10, the newest version of IBM’s business intelligence software, was accompanied at the conference by large bright red buttons and even larger stickers of the same design, sporting the tag line: “Intelligence Unleased.” Hard to miss.

4.The world is already inundated by 800,000 petabytes of data, 80 per cent of which is unstructured like e-mail and video. While that’s already plenty, IBM predicts it to grow by a whopping 44 times into 35 zettabytes in 2020. A zettabyte? One billion terabytes.

5.Possibly one of my fave quotes at the opening keynote was by Steve Pratt, chief technology officer with customer CenterPoint Energy who, in explaining how the utilities company uses analytics to monitor energy consumption, said “We are a company that uses technology but ultimately will become a technology company that delivers energy.” Love it.

6.Audience participation was an obvious component of this year’s opening keynote where a panel of IBM execs entertained real attendee questions from pre-taped videos of passer-bys on the conference floor, as well as live from Twitter.

7.Some customers took home prizes this year: TerraEchos won CTO Innovation Award. Visa Inc. won Outstanding Information Agenda award. Buckley won Rookie of the Year award.

8.Fred Balboni, IBM’s global leader for business analytics and optimization, urged attendees to get a move on with business analytics. “Analytics is not a spectator sport,” said Balboni. “So start. Start with something that matters to your business.” His specific message to IT departments was to engage the business but don’t be so controlling. “That doesn’t mean define their requirements,” said Balboni.

9.On the theme of attendee participation, a live poll that asked the audience about the importance of business analytics in improving the competitiveness of their organization. Survey said: high priority for 62 per cent of attendees, no priority for five per cent. “I think you people might be in the wrong group,” said host Mark Jeffries of the five per cent. “The yoga convention is next door.”

ComputerWorld Canada’s coverage of Information on Demand:

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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