3 Tips to Get the Most out of Gartner BI & Analytics Summit

Gartner BI & Analytics Summit Concept Biking to Mountains

One thing all conferences have in common is that they’re overwhelming. There’s more to learn, see, and do than any one person can handle. Narrowing all those options down to what matters most for your role is tricky at best and frustrating at worst, especially when it comes to a multidisciplinary, multi-technology event like the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit. Some of our top experts and clients will be giving presentations at the Grapevine, TX Gartner Summit this March. This got us thinking: how can we use our experience to help other attendees get the most out of the event?

The result is this article. In it, we’ll quickly run through three pieces of advice from our experts and clients that we hope will help you be as productive as possible while you navigate the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit.

1. Focus on Strategy

Greg2“Gartner analysts do an excellent job of cutting through the hype and maintaining impartiality in their approach. In addition, as an organization Gartner has a very consistent and engaging communication style that makes it relatively easy to go from talk to talk, sit back, and digest without having to first decipher. As a leader of client strategy and innovation for our firm, it is my job to be always aware of emerging trends and new opportunities in the marketplace that could directly benefit our clients. Attending Gartner BI has become an essential component of the research and analysis that informs our overall perspective of the market.”

– Greg Bonnette, VP, Strategy & Innovation, Ironside

The Gartner BI & Analytics Summit is one of the fastest ways to get up to speed on the latest philosophies, proven practices, and tools available in the data and analytics space. Prioritizing what strategies you want to understand and what impact they’ll have on your business is a great way to start mapping out what parts of the summit will matter most for you. There are a couple different ways to do this:

  • Know which agenda tracks are strategy-centered: Gartner always sets up several agenda tracks that group together related topics for easy reference and scheduling, some of which are focused around the newest ideas floating around in the industry or steps for establishing an analytics-driven culture at your business. For example, there will be a Lead With Analytics track focused on organization models/analytics leadership and an Evangelize the New track dedicated to emerging technologies and methods at the Grapevine, TX summit.
Gartner BI & Analytics Summit Agenda Tracks 2016

Image courtesy of Gartner, Inc. Grapevine, TX agenda tracks. March 14-16, 2016.

  • Align with specific goals: Hearing about strategies isn’t the same as gaining value from them. You need to focus on what’s going to work for your situation. This may seem like common sense, but it’s an important step that will help you learn what’s relevant and filter out things that are interesting but not applicable.

2. Expedite the Learning Process

Rich Sepe, Ironside Director or Sales“I attended the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit last year as an enablement exercise to learn more about emerging technologies and trends in the analytics and data management markets. The summit provides a superb vehicle for attendees focused on hot topics like bimodal analytics, as it brings together the traditional BI players with the emerging Data Discovery/Self-Service vendors and gives attendees a clear picture on how to deploy these strategies.  The fact that all this is compartmentalized in one manageable conference is very beneficial for those looking to learn in an expedited manner.”

– Rich Sepe, Director of Sales, Information Management, Ironside

Even though seeing tons of data and analytics thought leadership in one place can be overwhelming, it’s an opportunity for rapid growth. If you want to get new perspectives without cutting too much into your day-to-day, the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit is a great option. If you know what you’re interested in and have a clear plan, you can maximize your time and constantly absorb new concepts and practices. Doing this effectively requires some coordination beforehand:

  • Verify your interests: Do some quick research based on the agenda items that seem like they’d be valuable to you. Getting a few good summaries under your belt will familiarize you with key terms and will confirm or deny your initial instincts about the relevance of the topic. This is usually as simple as visiting reputable sites like Forbes and Inc., Gartner itself, or BI vendors with good reputations in the space.
  • Apply as you go: Real-world examples bring analytics concepts to life. As you move from session to session, try to apply what you hear to your business case. Ask yourself how you could see these ideas working in your organization. Starting the thought process early will make it easier to put those theories into practice.

3. Go Beyond Tools

“As a BI/analytics technical architect and delivery manager I leverage the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit for two purposes. First, it enables me to validate my group’s current capabilities and business value.  Second, it is a quick way for me to keep an eye on technology and business trends emerging in the coming year in a vendor agnostic way. The Magic Quadrant Power Sessions are useful for everybody and I highly recommend attending them.”

– Steve Vingerhoet, VP, Governance & IT Risk Management – Business Intelligence & UPS, SSGA

Gartner experts are known for getting beyond the various products available to serve different analytics functions and instead exploring how the functions themselves should be performed. This means that at a Gartner Summit, it’s easy to see how well your business stacks up against these standards regardless of your chosen technology, as well as what areas you should be looking at in the future. It also requires that you keep a different perspective in mind as you move from session to session:

  • Be open to change: Recognize that there will always be new, better ways to do things and don’t let thoughts of your current technological investments hold you back. More and more, especially with all the cloud-hosted analytics choices available, it’s becoming easier to test out different options at a lower cost.
  • Know your capabilities: Going into the summit with a clear view into what you can do today will help you evaluate your position and plan where you want to go. Try to gather as much information about your area of responsibility/your department and its analytics processes as possible so you can accurately assess the value of the new concepts you hear.

Conclusion: Attending the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit

Updated for 2017

Now that you’re prepped with some expert advice and tips, you’re ready to head to the summit! If you or someone in your company is interested in attending, use discount code DASP46 to get $300 off a full conference pass. Be sure to stop by the Ironside booth and say hi and attend our presentation on Thursday March 9, 2017 at 9:45am!