As I was making my way to San Francisco International (SFO) the dread of spending the better part of a week and Valentine’s day in Las Vegas started to sink in. The upside was that I was going to be able to cover two conferences in one fell swoop and they were at hotels right next to each other. My schedule was to cover IBM’s PartnerWorld and Tableau Software’s newly launched partner conference which was more buzz for me because I’ve been working with the new version of Tableau Desktop and have quickly become enamored with its capabilities and intuitiveness.
Does the following scenario ever happen to you? An observation in daily life gets you asking questions which starts a mental exercise that turns into thinking about data... Well, the SFO security checkpoint was one of those moments for me. I arrived at the security checkpoint in Terminal 2, expecting to breeze through to my gate (because of the 'TSA pre-check' stamp on my boarding pass) and get to the Virgin America gate with plenty of time to spare. Well, so much for expectations - I continued to stand in line and observe 4 lanes and one expensive whole body scanner stand idle. This got me wondering if the airport authority, TSA, and airline reservation systems do any data analysis on this. My conclusion is that they don’t even though on the surface it should be pretty simple to extract de-identified data and run a baseline analysis of security gate load at specified times. As good as Virgin America's customer experience is it's off set by the TSA's customer experience. Don't get me wrong, they have an important role to play but in my experience, they don't give a rip about customer experience. Back to the conferences...
After landing in Las Vegas, I headed over to the Bellagio to check in and hit my first round of meetings at IBM’s conference. The first thing I noticed was a certain somberness - maybe it is because IBM recently announced that it sold a good chunk of its server business to Lenovo and details are sparse. My observation was confirmed as people commented on how the energy of this PartnerWorld is different. As I moved through meetings and conversations with people I’ve known for years, it became apparent the Lenovo announcement definitely had something to do with it but another theme also started to emerge. The cloud is looming - attendees were thinking about transitions and how cloud based offerings fit into the portfolios of firms that have grown accustomed to product transactions. All in, it was a productive conference but IBM is adjusting to market realities that have changed the IT landscape over the past five or six years.
It all really came together for me when I was able to spend some time with an IBM executive talking about how we can work together to strengthen the Tableau / IBM partnership as part of a larger ecosystem. The fact of the matter is that lashing Tableau products up to an analytics appliance like IBM PureAnalytics (formerly Netezza) makes for a wicked, powerful combination. Overall I'm expecting this partnership to deliver great results for our clients and the week turned out to be one well spent.
Image by Rick Turoczy