I always try to visit the British Museum when I am in London as it is one of my favorite places. It has fantastic Ancient Egyptian galleries and I never miss an opportunity to revel amongst those fascinating artifacts. However, today I was in for a special treat as there was a new exhibition about Pompeii and Herculaneum – two Ancient Roman cities destroyed by a volcanic eruption in AD 79. The nature and ferocity of the eruption killed many people, literally in their tracks, and buried both cities for 1,700 years. Their rediscovery in the last couple of centuries found that many of the buildings and their contents were preserved providing a remarkable insight into everyday ordinary Roman life.
Walking around the exhibit, I was able to see what Roman houses looked like, the furnishings and how they were decorated. I was also able to see how the Romans who lived there went about their daily tasks, observe the food they ate, the clothes they wore and the activities they participated in. There were paintings and graffiti on the walls of what would have been a tavern showing men arguing over women, gambling and brawling. This was not the world of Roman Emperors and Senators from our history books; this was the real world life and situations of ordinary people.
When the big software and BI vendors hold conferences, they will usually include customer case studies and often interview or include CEO’s or CIO’s or someone high ranking within the customer organization. While these case studies are usually impressive in their delivery and outcomes, they rarely tell the whole story and are often edited to intentionally exclude anything that would reflect poorly on the vendor’s solution.
Last year at the InfoSol Business Intelligence Seminar (IBIS), there was an executive track entitled “Inspired Business Intelligence” that consisted of 12 real world customer case studies delivered by the customers and consultants who actually implemented the solutions. There was no editing, it was a true “warts and all” account of what really happened – why the solution was created, how it was created, the problems and challenges encountered and the results. What I heard and saw was both educational and fascinating. Better still, the discussions that took place at the end of each presentation with those attending were incredibly enlightening. Just like the Pompeii exhibition, these case study presentations provided a view into the real world from the people actually engaged day-to-day in the tasks.
It was so successful that the Inspired Business Intelligence executive track will be offered again at IBIS 2013 but with 12 brand new customer case studies all delivered by the people in the trenches in the last year. The line-up is impressive and includes case studies by a Title Agency deploying a mobile BI solution to track agent and broker activity, one by a tool manufacturing division who created a BI dashboard to manage and monitor the life cycle creation of new tools that was previously tracked on a magnetic board. There is also a customer case study entitled : “HANA and BusinessObjects – A Marriage Made In Memory” which shows how a BusinessObjects only customer developed a client facing real-time analytics solution.
The Pompeii-Herculaneum exhibition is a “not-to-be-missed” event for anyone interested in real world history and the Inspired Business Intelligence track at IBIS 2013 is the same for anyone interested in real world BI. I recommend you go to both!
Update: At the annual IBIS Conference, the customer case studies presented by customers are now part of the limitless BI track.