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Performance preview, Finance Forum recap and a new BI survey
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  perf11 business_analytics iff11 ibmwatson
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I've been involved in a lot of behind-the-scenes kind of stuff lately, but I thought I'd pop back in briefly to shed some light on some of the great work my colleagues have been putting out there in the last two weeks or so. Ready? Here goes....
Performance 2011 - Make the leap from Insight to Foresight
The North American leg of our annual international event series kicks off April 26 in Minneapolis and wraps up August 3 in Washington, DC. In between, we'll be hosting 20 events in cities including San Francisco, Cincinnati, Calgary, Philadelphia, Seattle and Los Angeles.
If you're new to Performance, here's the scoop: It's a live, one-day where you'll be able to see the latest products (including IBM Cognos 10), talk to the people who built them and meet people who are already using them. You'll also get to learn about the latest thinking from our business analytics brain trust about how to best leverage IBM business intelligence, predictive and analytics, as well as financial performance and strategy management software for better business outcomes.
There's something for everyone at these events, whether you've been using our solutions for years or merely kicking the tires. Here's the keynote abstract:
Accurate, confident and the first to buzz in, Watson showed us what’s possible when you apply powerful analytics to complex questions by winning on Jeopardy! What could you do with similar capabilities?
You'll notice that the abstract starts with a mention of Watson. That's because as an added bonus, we'll be bringing the Watson kiosk to Performance events in Atlanta, Ottawa, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, New Jersey, Boston, Hartford, Raleigh and Washington. The kiosk will give you the chance to test your wits against the latest example of IBM's DeepQA system that defeated Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter back in February. And, if that wasn't already cool enough, Performance events in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Toronto will also feature a presentation by a member of the Watson team. I blogged back in February about the exciting implications of Watson for business analytics software, so I'm pretty excited to be attending some of these events. If you're excited too, then sign up now for your chance to meet a member of this history-making team!
Finance Forum Europe: Letter from Vienna
Christoph Papenfuss continues his Finance Forum sojourn through the alps with stops in Vienna and Zurich, stopping only long enough for a schnitzel, a few photos and a great write-up here. Here's a sample:
The Finance Forum Switzerland was held at the famous and gorgeous Dolder Grand hotel. It is situated high above the city with breathtaking views left and right. Steve Morlidge, the author of ‘Future Ready‘ delivered a refreshing keynote about best practices in forecasting. He will be speaking at many different Finance Forums across Europe this year. We also had a customer speaker from a 500 year-old company (can you believe that?): Mr. Binzegger from Orell-Fuesseli talked about their innovative use of SPSS software to develop highly accurate credit ratings for companies. We also heard Mr. Wirth from Nycomed talk about how to build an effective reporting and information strategy in a global environment. The Dolder Hotel staff also served up some amazing food and coffees during the break. Great event.
Government Forum: Hear from Jimmy Wales, Build a Smarter Government
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is the keynote speaker for this year's IBM Government Forum 2011, our eighth annual event dedicated to improving outcomes in the U.S. federal public service.
This one-day event is happening Wednesday, May 4 at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC. This year's event will feature breakout sessions, hands-on workshops and panel discussions with government officials, thought leaders and IBM business analytics executives including Rob Ashe. It's also being sponsored by The Performance Institute, a non-partisan think-tank and one of the nation’s leading authorities on performance-based management practices. The tracks include "Tying Performance to High-Priority Goals," "Achieving Better Outcomes with Predictive Analytics, " and "Assessing and managing Risk." The impressive list of speakers includes:
I'll be there to tweet the insights and capture the proceedings for posterity and I hope you'll be there, too. You can learn more about Government Forum here, or sign up here.
BARC wants to hear from you!
BARC, the Business Application Research Center, is conducting its 10th BI Survey. Dubbed "The Customer Verdict," it's the world's largest survey of business intelligence and performance management users. The Center is asking BI users to answer the survey (all answers are anonymous) in exchange for a summary of the full survey and a chance to win one of 10 $50 Amazon gift vouchers. The Survey will run until the end of May and is available in four languages. BARC provides great insights into companies' buying decisions implementation cycles and the business benefits they realize. They say the survey should only take 30 minutes to complete, so why not contribute to the research?
Finally: Want more users? Start playing Angry Birds
IBMer Eric Andersen shared a great dissection of the usability experience of Angry Birds, the ridiculously popular iPhone/iPad game. More than 50 million people spend a collective 200 million minutes each day trying to destroy the houses of smug green pigs, so it's safe to say that the game designers were onto something.
Well, that or really, really lucky.
According to usability engineer Charles Mauro, the game's addictive nature is in part due to its simple, yet engaging concept. It helps users map the universe of the game, then expands it only when they're ready.
What makes a user interface engaging is adding more detail to the user’s mental model at just the right time. Angry Birds’ simple interaction model is easy to learn because it allows the user to quickly develop a mental model of the game’s interaction methodology, core strategy and scoring processes. It is engaging, in fact addictive, due to the carefully scripted expansion of the user’s mental model of the strategy component and incremental increases in problem/solution methodology. These little birds are packed with clever behaviors that expand the user’s mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased. The process of creating simple, engaging interaction models turns out to be exceedingly complex. Most groups developing software today think expansion of the user’s mental model is for the birds. Not necessarily so.
The lesson for you? If you're trying to get your users actually using the tools, don't overwhelm them with what the solution can do. Instead provide them the simplest experience possible that (a) gives them the answer they need and (b) helps them understand the solution. Introduce additional features only when they're ready or when they need to explore more. There's nearly no limit to what business analytics solutions can deliver or what your users can do with them. But if users can't grasp the universe you're creating (your own house of pigs), they'll never take flight. To that end, our Champion's Kit provides several resources to help you build a successful solution that your users will love and use.
Phew. There's lots more I could write about, but I think I'll end it there. Until next week, keep up the good work in pursuit of better business outcomes. We're all in this together.