Everything was big this year in Vegas. Over 1,100 members joined the faculty, instructors and exhibitors this year at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) 2008 Winter World Conference.
Caesar’s Palace was a grand setting for this big event. I noticed some interesting demographics at this conference. TDWI is drawing a higher percentage of repeat conference goers and the
percentage of members representing the business community is rising. Seems to me people are doing their homework. Used to be people came to TDWI to understand what data warehousing (DW) and
business intelligence (BI) really mean and why they should be important to them and their organizations. Many of the members I visited with during this conference already have an appreciation of
the “whats & whys.” They are seeking expert advice and experienced-based opinion on how to maximize value for their investment. They have a need to hear about those real-world
solutions that were implemented under real-world constraints.
The conference offered a wide variety of business intelligence topics this year, demonstrating the value TDWI places on that component of the overall DW/BI solution architecture. The fundamentals
like data modeling, requirements gathering, techniques for high performance data warehouse, tool assessment approaches and emerging technologies are still offered and are very well received by the
attending members. Newer entries focusing on business strategy alignment for dashboards and predictive analytics got high rankings from the attending members.
The exhibitor hall was brimming with all the familiar faces albeit a few of them sporting new colors and “an ‘xyz’ company” subtitle. As I walked around and chatted with the
vendors, it is clear they have a high level of respect and allegiance to TDWI and the value TDWI brings to the industry. What struck me at this conference was the surprising number of special
purpose database offerings in the exhibit hall. The database and database appliance market is going to be very interesting in the years to come.
Night school had some interesting entries this year, my favorite being the Information Retrieval & Machine Learning session. MIT grad students are doing some amazing research and development of
fast and reliable search engines based on complex mathematical algorithms. I envision a melding of internet-like contextual searches with data warehouse/business intelligence-like queries in the
near future. Look out Google!
The hospitality suites were alive with great door prizes, scavenger hunts and live music. If you have not taken advantage of the hospitality suites, you owe it to yourself to do so at your next
TDWI World Conference. These are great opportunities to visit with the hosting vendors and to network with your fellow TDWI members.
The instructors had a couple chances to network and bond with each other this year. In the instructor lounge, after the pleasantries and a quick review of who’s authoring which new book, the
discussing turned to the excitement around the unveiling, alignment and consolidation of myriad of DW and BI products. We got a chance to share our predictions for where the DW/BI space will be in
the next 5 years. We also got down to serious discussion about what we’re hearing from our class participants regarding their education needs. What we concluded is that there are a lot of
members asking a lot of “how would you do this under that condition” questions. I suspect some exciting new approaches and formats unveiled by TDWI in the upcoming conferences to
respond to the voice of the member.
One thing is for sure, data warehousing and business intelligence are mainstay components in the IT suite of solutions and services. The challenge for TDWI is to continue to evolve the education
program to meet the needs of more savvy IT and business communities. The members are ready to move up the data warehousing and business intelligence maturity curve. The vendors want to show the
members how their products are meeting the demands of a continually maturing industry. The member talent is young and aggressive. They need education that promotes fast learning and creativity.
It’s going to be a great opportunity for the new TDWI management to tackle.
In closing, this is my first experience attending the TDWI conferences wearing a hat of Eye-on-TDWI author. That being said, this article reflects my “lay of the land” as I get a feel
for the topics of interest and the methods for collecting background information and feedback. I currently run a data warehouse consultancy practice. Yes, I’m one of those guys that has been
“doing data” for a long time (28 years). I’ve been in the trenches wrestling with all of those tough situations we all deal with as DW/BI professionals. My goal for future
Eye-on-TDWI articles will be to report out on those topics I believe will resonate with all of you data warehousing and business intelligence solution providers and practitioners out there!