Microsoft runs Business Intelligence Experience days for Enterprise organisations. We spoke to Morris Novello, a product marketing manager at Microsoft, to see how these sessions help customers get hands-on with the latest business intelligence technology.

 

What, exactly, is a Business Intelligence Experience session?

We call it BIX for short and the idea is to give customers a hands-on experience. It’s a bit like walking through an IKEA store where you see mock-ups of rooms with furniture and accessories. You can see what the products are like in a realistic setting. So, with BIX, we create a business intelligence infrastructure with real HP servers and Microsoft software. Then we run realistic data in common business scenarios. Customers explore it directly themselves, supported by our technical facilitators who can answer questions. It’s very interactive and hands-on. Not death by PowerPoint!



Why are you doing this?

We observed two big trends in the market. First, the volume of data isn’t just growing. It’s exploding. If businesses can’t extract insight from this torrent of information, how can they make good business decisions? Second, there is the democratisation of IT. You see this in trends like consumerisation and cloud computing. It’s not just IT experts who have access to data anymore. Everyone in the business needs it. People in marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance etc.

Whenever people ask business questions like “what’s the social media sentiment about my brand?” or “how do I optimise my taxi deployment given the weather and traffic right now?” or “who are my most profitable customers?” they need business intelligence. They just don’t know it yet. Or at least they don’t know it in those terms.

What’s the benefit for customers?

We’re providing a forum for customers to identify potential solutions to opportunities within their organisation by gaining a better understanding of Microsoft’s Business Intelligence Suite. Feedback from participants has been hugely positive. They tell us that they learn things that they didn’t know before, for example, how SQL Server, SharePoint and Excel work together. Seeing it in action is so much better than us telling them all the time!

They’ll often come with a specific problem they need to solve or projects that they want to try. It provides a safe sort of laboratory for them to experiment. Then they can go back to stakeholders and sponsors in the business and implement the kinds of scenarios they’ve seen in their own organisation.

When are the events? How do you register?

We have 12 events planned ourselves over the next six-eight months plus another 12 events run by Business Intelligence partners who are focusing on specific vertical markets such as retail, energy or finance. We have upcoming events in 14 December, 18 January, 15 February and on into 2013.

Each event has around 8-10 business decision makers as well as our more traditional audience of IT professionals with a maximum of two participants per company. So there’s a good mix of people and small groups to encourage discussion and engagement.

To come to one of the events talk to your account manager or contact Alex Woodcock v-alwood@microsoft.com.

By Matthew Stibbe, Microsoft Enterprise