Information Builders Summit 2018: a new intelligence for a connected world

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Yesterday, EM360 attended the 2018 Information Builders Summit - an exploration into a new intelligence for a connected world. Situated in London's grand Waldorf Hilton Hotel, the event consisted of innovative speakers, solution showcases, and thought-provoking discussions.

Here's a sample of some of our favourite sessions:

Welcome to the Digital Age: Ade McCormack

One of the first sessions of the day offered a unique anthropological take on the digital age. Ade McCormack, advisor and speaker, opened with the bold statement:

"work-life balance as a concept doesn't really work."

However, according to the former technologist, the digital age is "returning us to our true nature." He also alluded to the image of "nature pushing through the concrete factory floor" in reference to our personal and corporate evolution.

McCormack spoke with vigour when he insisted that businesses must "disrupt, or be disrupted." He referred to the industrial era as the "most disconnected" evolutionary phase, and added that we are now "in the business of creating new business models."

McCormack stated that "strategy is dead," instead, business is now about situational awareness. He added that "we are on a convergence course with tech," and as a result "data driven leadership" is integral.

McCormack insisted that the number one priority for digital organisations is to "plug the cognitive leaks." If businesses can turn data cognition into value, they can pursue marginal cognitive gains.

Welcome to the Digital Age: Martin Houghton

Following on swiftly from McCormack, Martin Houghton explored digital disruption within the financial sector. Chief Data Officer and Head of Digital Services at Target Group, Houghton began with some blunt advice:

"You cannot do digital as a business without looking after data"

Initially, Houghton focused on the generational gap in tech. According to the executive, society is experiencing a change of "expectations" when it comes to the capabilities of technology.

So-called "data natives," or millennials, are apparently demanding "data driven experiences." In short, this refers to expecting data to essentially "program itself."

Houghton asserted that "data is the backbone of this transformation." New technology is supposedly shaping future possibilities, and we are beginning to leverage data to "become more creative."

He added that "market disruptors use a lot of data," although regulators are demanding change amid the new GDPR culture. Houghton stated that "data is just a proxy reality," but concluded with an unsettling interrogative regarding the integrity of data:

"what if our data is fool's gold?"

A New Intelligence For A Connected World: Frank J. Vella

With almost 30 years of experience in the technology sector, Frank J. Vella recently joined the Information Builders team as Chief Operating Officer. The industry expert discussed the state of the market, trusted data, and the importance of infographics.

Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the session was Vella's exploration of philanthropy within data. Put quite simply, the COO referred to this initiative as:

"Data for good"

The world's largest nonprofit organisation, United Way, has maximised relief efforts with Information Builders WebFOCUS self-service and analytics. Vella stressed that this tool has allowed United Way to visualise data, enabling local United Ways to learn from their peers, share best practices, and discover opportunities to improve.

As data has increased, organisational life expectancy has decreased. Vella asserted that while an average company lifespan in 1955 stood at 75 years, companies in 2015 only last an average of 15 years.

Vella also insisted that "trust in data" is crucial when making business decisions. He defined "data of integrity" as trusted, secure, and derived from "corporally governed sources."

Information Builders have recently introduced narrative charts into their communication system. Vella described their infographics as "relevant, accurate, and in real-time," and presented in a "manner that everyone can digest."

According to Vella, this allows everyone in the organisation to unlock the "power of insight" that trusted data can provide. Vella offered 3 keys to unlocking the true value of data:

1. Create trusted information foundation

2. Increase utilisation and adoption of analytics 

3. Innovate with analytics (monetise data) 

We were lucky enough to land an interview with the man himself, watch this space.

The Business Value of Trusted Data: Jim Williams

One of the final breakout talks came from Jim Williams, Senior iWay Pre-Sales Consultant at Information Builders. Williams discussed the importance of turning data into a valuable business asset using a staged approach.

According to Williams, 90% of the world's data was created in the last two years alone - by just half of the population. He added that "the rise of privacy will have little impact since the size of data will outpace the redaction."

In opposition to Martin Houghton's 'fool's gold' metaphor, Williams insisted that:

"Data is not the new oil and it isn't the blood of an organisation. It is the water."

The consultant elaborated on this image, insisting that when data is " it introduces sickness that may take a long time to identify." On the other hand, he stated that when data is clean, or perceived as clean, it can be "bottled and sold for a price."

Williams said that "trustworthy" data can be measured through a series of assessable processes, such as customer retention rates. He concluded that good quality data does not, therefore, "require reworking."

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