It's been a fascinating day here on the outskirts of the Eternal City, and I have exactly one hour before the bus departs for our networking event at the Chiostro Del Bramante. So, without further delay, here are 10 high points that I may expand on later...
- For SPSS clients, the best is yet to come: Rob Ashe welcomed SPSS clients into the IBM Business Analytics fold with an eloquent and passionate address that drew from his own experiences following the acquisition of Cognos and the increased profile of the software within the IBM software portfolio. "IBM makes acquisitions for growth," he told the audience, likening its string of acquisitions to "a string of pearls" with capabilities that complement each other instead of overlapping. "You are front and center in the IBM vision," said Rob, who also confessed to long-standing desire to enter the predictive analytics space.
- IBM offers SPSS unmatched potential to innovate, and it's already happening: In the panel discussion that followed, Rob Ashe outlined the tremendous opportunities now open to SPSS teams and clients alike. "Being part of IBM means having access to resources and research and that equals innovation." SPSS CTO Richard Holada spoke of expanded language support for the SPSS product suite and exciting developments in the labs. "They're all in there working on neat stuff, and they all work for me." Finally, now seven months into the role of CEO of SPSS, Deepak Advani says he feels
the company is "a Ferrari in first gear."
- Analytics are vital to competing in the "Decade of Smart." In his keynote address, Rob Ashe outlined the four criteria for success: 1 - the ability to access access information, regardless of its source. 2 - The ability to draw insights from that data by asking the question "Why does it matter?" 3 - The ability to adapt your business processes to those insights, and 4 - the ability to connect those changes to strategic outcomes. Rob sees SPSS capabilities being deployed across that entire continuum - from raw statistics to data models to market insights to rewiring business processes. Two examples: for insurance companies reducing fraud; for telecommunications companies to increase yield on customer interactions. Said Deepak, "Our vision is to drive optimized outcomes using predictive analytics."
- Decision-making is shifting its focus from automation to optimization: Advani charted the evolution of decision-making platforms to the point where business users can harness the power of predictive analytics to optimize any and every business process. "We are crossing a new threshold in our ability to manage pervasive information, analyze it to gain insight, predict risk and opportunities and drive faster, smarter decisions and actions." SPSS Decision Management 6 will be a key offering in enabling this transformation.
- SPSS is bringing the power of predictive analytics from the back room
to the point of business impact: Advani cited examples of banks detecting fraud before the fact, and SPSS CTO Richard Holada used an insurance fraud example to show how business users can build a predictive model in three clicks.
- There are people in Manchester who support neither United nor City: I could not have predicted this.
- Most complicated negotiations are actually predictable: In his surprising keynote address, celebrated author and consultant Dr. Bruce Bueno De Mesquita explained that you can predict the outcome of almost any situation by examining the interplay of four simple questions: Who has a stake in the decision? What do they say they want? How focused are they on the issue? How much influence to they have? A proponent of game theory who's built a model that delivers 90% accuracy in everything from litigation to foreign policy, Dr. De Mesquita also says his model works equally well across cultures and geographies. Check out a light version of his "Predictioneer's Game" here.
- The first mistake people make in negotiations is to assume the decision-maker is the person to pay attention to: Presidents and CEOs have advisors who have advisors of their own, Dr. De Mesquita explained. "These are the people who really shape policy," he said. "You ignore them at your peril."
- You should never be a "long-shaker": In the first of his soft skills tips, Directions host Mark Jeffries reminded the audience to keep their handshakes short and sweet - two seconds, max. You can see Jeffries' tips for business card etiquette here.
- The food here is so good I may have to switch my World Cup allegiances: Seeing as I already support France, this is a truly big deal.
More to come tomorrow...stay tuned!