I attended TIBCONOW in 65-degree temperature-controlled rooms in 98-degree San Diego heat. Most vendors living in the universe of magic quadrants tend to believe a single annual conference is sufficient; TIBCO, like the product strategy that drives their software, decided to deliver 3X in terms of content and scope. It was the annual conference’s third stop on its 2017 Digital Smarter World Tour.One needed TIBCO software to navigate the 2-day agenda which was packed with industry perspectives of real-world digital solutions, hands-on labs with Spotfire and newly acquired Statistica and a concise keynote highlighting the breadth and capabilities of the TIBCO portfolio.CEO Murray Rode opened by framing core conference themes within what he described was a “mono-maniacal focus on customer experience”. Among TIBCOs ambitious goals are enabling customers to adopt workflows and technologies across many cloud environments, delivering AI and auto-viz capabilities including real-time pattern recognition and interfacing with open platforms to facilitate IOT integration – all which TIBCO expects will help double its client base. In what must be one of the coolest streaming-BI-data-viz use-cases of all time, Matt Harris, Head of IT at Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Limited, detailed how TIBCO technology powers their World Champion Formula 1 racing team. In one weekend on the track TIBCO helps collect, analyze and react to 3 ½ terabytes of data collected from over 200 sensors on a vehicle during 9 hours of racing. Every sensor carries a weight-vs.-performance opportunity cost in an event where milliseconds matter – qualifying times in a recent championship were distinguished by 1/1,000ths of a second. Drivers change gears over 100 times per lap. Each gear-change is classified as good, bad or unknown resulting in thousands of data points that are synthesized into insight that have helped produce a 4th straight F1 World Championship. This is digital fun.Redefining Modern Business Intelligence
You will not find an F1 use-case at other vendor conferences in the modern business intelligence platform space. Stand-alone data-visualization tools delivering narrow functionality, fast becoming commoditized, lack the scale and extensibility required to deliver streaming visual analytics. TIBCO CTO Matt Quin’s vision of a “loosely-coupled, seamlessly integrated” technology stack is producing Spotfire capabilities that redefine modern business intelligence.The hands-on Statistica lab was as thrilling as a hands-on Statistica lab sounds. Instant access to thousands of machine-learning, predictive and statistical models, connectivity to open source platforms H2O and TensorFlow and complete life-cycle management and model deployment capability. I was told one could learn the platform in a single day, but I suspect it would be a very long day. Additionally, I was pleased to learn that one does not need to hold the title “Data Scientist” to use the platform; however, knowing a data scientist wouldn’t hurt. The acquisitive nature of TIBCOs product strategy is beginning to deliver value; Spotfire users can now import SBDF files from Statistica and visualize model results.One can expect the integration between native TIBCO platforms to become more tightly aligned as new acquisitions mature in the TIBCO stack. As the worlds of BI and data science converge Spotfire analysts and Statistica data scientists are positioned to deliver value that other vendor solutions cannot produce autonomously. This is becoming a consistent theme at TIBCO; Brad Hopper, VP of Analytics Product Management and Strategy, demonstrated a beta version of Spotfire that is capable of visualizing live streaming data from TIBCO Streambase. This will have meaningful practical applications beyond Formula 1 Racing in Financial Services, Manufacturing, Oil & Gas and other industries. As Spotfire capabilities are extended by old and new product acquisitions the application is becoming centered in the TIBCO universe. Spotfire is extending modern BI boundaries in a way that should have Gartner considering creating a new Magic Quadrant category. We’ll leave the philosophical question of whether a single-vendor Magic Quadrant would yield value to the data scientists.Press the Press, Analyze the AnalystsA memorable statement I heard at the conference came from Mitch Wagner from Enterprise Cloud News, “I’m going to ask you one question and based on your answer I’ll determine whether we spend any time together.” Probably not a good ice-breaker on a first date, but at TIBCONOW I had momentarily entered the Matrix. I must admit I was a little disappointed at the subsequent question which in hindsight seemed entirely predictable without Statistica: “What is your cloud strategy?” I’m proud to report Mitch and I spent an engaging 20+ minutes together after my response during which he typed furiously into his laptop looking up only once to chuckle when I expressed that the cloud is merely someone else’s on-premise environment.Jeff Cotrupe from Frost & Sullivan had some probing questions related to the Business Intelligence breadth-of-functionality theme. This led to a fun discussion (with an analyst) about the state of the Big Data Landscape in which there are only a handful of vendors that span the functional spectrum of architecture, business intelligence, data visualization and analytics. Yet Big Data Landscape analyses tend to almost footnote these vendors below the hundreds of vendors who deliver very specialized functionality. This makes for a fun infographic of vendor icons in a tree-map of capabilities; however, if you are a CXO overseeing technology strategy you likely are most interested in the small population of vendors from whom you can consume a wide array of capabilities. Within this full-spectrum vendor segment only a few players even possess a modern business intelligence platform. TIBCO has had one for a decade. It’s this experience that has led to Spotfire’s unique maturity across the Big Data Landscape.
The TIBCO vendor showcase floor was alive throughout the conference. Again, it is the breadth of functional use-cases that distinguished the floor from other conference showcases. From Automated Insights embedding Natural Language Generated narratives into Spotfire visualizations to deploying project Flogo IOT applications in AWS Lambda before passing data to neural networks in Tensor Flow – this was a great environment to seek solutions to technology challenges.The most amazing solution I observed in the showcase was the Ruths.aiClassify Subsurface Intervals Spotfire template. We don’t encounter Geoscience in the Portfolio Management universe, but this Oil & Gas solution is absolutely cutting edge. Upon mapping wellbores and x-y-z grids the analysis delivers an immersive experience as the user classifies intervals and generates results. It’s an interactive, cinematic plunge into the depths of the earth that delivers insight to sea-level users. View the demonstration here: https://exchange.ai/downloads/rai-classify-subsurface-intervals/This is a great example of how the open, integrative nature of Spotfire can enable data science practitioners to produce solutions that could never be predicted by a product development team. Rather than a closed product, TIBCO has created a platform from which solutions can be developed – this is value generation. The template is merely one of over 200 analytic solutions available in Exchange.ai, the Ruths.ai Library of Analytics.TIBCONOW Matters
I enjoyed presenting in the Financial Services Industry spotlight. I’m grateful for what was a fantastic and engaged crowd that helped lift the atmosphere on the first day. The Spotfire journey at a Fortune-500 bank resonated with attendees, many of whom shared their own experiences driving adoption, achieving critical mass and ultimately delivering valuable BI solutions in their own organizations. More than a few attendees expressed they were at the beginning of their Spotfire journey; an exciting time and one during which engaging with the TIBCO community can be very valuable. Following is an excerpt from the opening of my presentation which I hope provides those of you who did not attend TIBCONOW with an inside view:As I considered the theme of my discussion with you I kept coming back to one thing. Now. The now in TIBCONOW. Truly, what is more important than the instant in time that is the forever now? The present is all we have - now is precious. And so, allow us to focus on the now – it is our time together in this session and it is our time engaging with the TIBCO world of technology over the next two days.I am actually going to challenge you to embrace the now with me. Genuinely. Silence your phones. Ignore your streaming IOT for the next 20 or 30 minutes. Forget about what you left behind to be here. We all chose to be here now. Join me – and please, I invite you to challenge me back by giving me the chance to keep you here now. Our lives are short, but if we consider them as a continuum of now they stretch over time - and they are taking place during incredible technological growth - across fields like nanotechnology, robotics and genomics - all converging and coupling themselves with modern computing power – creating massive opportunity to use technology and produce insight – to generate value. To create a new now.The people and the technology here matter – some of those among us will learn something about a product while they’re here – they will make a meaningful connection while they are here - and they will change tomorrow’s now. This is powerful. TIBCONOW matters.Non-Random Thoughts
In my own small sample of attendee questions, a common theme related to Spotfire’s ability to leverage R. Many attendees were frustrated with vendor products that tout R integration, but ultimately have immature interfaces and disjointed connectivity options. TIBCO Chief Analytics Officer Michael O’Connell summarized Spotfire’s R capability best in our Financial Services Industry Perspective. I am paraphrasing: Michael expressed TIBCO is the only vendor with a commercial license to use R – which is why R code can be dropped directly into Spotfire, and run in-analysis with the output visualized immediately. The Spotfire library allows R code - snippets or fully developed models - to be saved and shared across users and teams creating a powerful collaboration tool. The TIBCO Community Exchange has examples of Spotfire Accelerators with embedded R code that can be downloaded here: https://community.tibco.com/exchange
Having helped transform a $200B Currency Management operation that was heavily reliant on Microsoft Excel, I always enjoy hearing amazing stories – from business and IT alike - about Excel-intensive workflows. The stories tend to be delivered as an admission of guilt because users understand it’s probably prudent to migrate from Excel to a more mature technology solution. But I suspect many of us have been in this situation and believe it should be viewed as an opportunity to transform. As business challenges outgrow Excel there is a conversion (or augmentation) timeline with an inflection point of risk. Acting prior to the inflection point is incredibly beneficial in terms of controlling risk, reducing complexity and facilitating scalability. Excel is a wonderfully powerful application that thankfully is not about to be decommissioned, but failing to transform your workflows before the inflection point creates real business risk. If you’re in this position don’t feel guilty – you are not alone. Share your story and change your workflow.
The last thing I needed after the final TIBCONOW happy hour was a Hawaiian Martini. However, that’s exactly what I found as our team wandered along the San Diego oceanfront. The man who introduced me to the cocktail was Mark Geene from Cloud Elements. It’s worth noting some of the best conference interactions and connections arise from where you might least expect. Mark’s firm has an API Integration Platform that facilitates rapid application development across disparate APIs. With the proliferation of APIs in the past several years an offering that synchronizes and exposes data across endpoints is an attractive proposition we’re looking forward to exploring. I found their tagline compelling: “We Make Integration Suck Less”.
I’ve yet to produce 100 gear-changes circling the neighborhood since returning home, but I’m getting close. Thank you to everyone who interconnected at TIBCONOW.