Back from TDWI Orlando: lessons learned


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Once again, I headed to the TDWI conference, which took place in sunny Orlando last week. I wanted to share with you my feedback and learnings from this first-class event for Analytics & BI executives. 

The courses I attended rose new questions and I was happy to debate on them regarding the realities of our clients. But TDWI is not just about classes, it’s about meeting inspiring people in a friendly and intimate atmosphere that favors sharing. 

I hope you’ll enjoy the reading and I’d love to hear from you about the courses you attended and the impressions you had about them!



Made for connecting with the brightest Data, Analytics & BI executives


The best value you can take out of TDWI is all about the people you meet. 



This year we had the chance to exhibit for two days and showcase our tech and unique design methodology to executives working on Data topics: from Data modeling, Data warehousing to Business Intelligence, and Data Science. Everyone was curious about our positioning and expertise regarding Data Storytelling for non-technical decision-makers. The questions raised after our demo on the app-building workflow showed us that we are on the right way to solve critical issues for our US clients. 



We had great conversations, and I am delighted that we got this opportunity to share our vision with so many people, giving away an iPad for Ashka Patel as a symbol of one of our unique product differentiators: mobility. 


One last thing I want to highlight about the people at TDWI is that thanks to lunches, welcoming dinner, a fun evening on Tuesday, you don’t feel like being in another standard conference. There is a sense of relationship and community that you don’t find in any event. You have both fun and invaluable learnings!



Challenging the status quo thanks to renowned instructors 



The audience at TDWI is made of experienced executives eager to learn and not stay comfortably in a chair listening to. I loved this attitude because everyone comes to the classes and the exhibition hall in an open mind. 


We had enriching conversations about our expertise: Data Storytelling. Every decision-maker I met was building a data journey for months or years. And despite their investments and successes, they were all very humble about the overall result of their current data processes: still not delivering actionable insights to non-technical decision-makers. They were here to discover, and we had a great time showcasing how Toucan leads the new wave of Business Intelligence  


At TDWI, instructors are not here to provide a standard keynote to a huge crowd: they can be provocative to make you react and think forward. We laughed with Evan Levy and his anecdotes on how we should not take our opinions for granted and accept to open up our perspective to build better data strategies. 



I had the chance to attend four workshops that related to our clients’ most significant pain points: 

  • Accelerate Business Impact when building your data and analytics roadmap – John O Brien 
  • How to improve Dashboard adoption & feedback by Nicholas Kelly 
  • Data Strategy: a corporate plan for Data by Evan Levy 
  • Dashboard development and performance management by Mark Peco


I’ll share with you the main takeaways I got from two of them and will be happy to engage in a future discussion with you to talk in more detail!


Data Strategy – “Data sharing is a responsibility and not a courtesy.” 


The main lesson I took from Evan Levy’s workshop is that Data Strategy is all about adoption in the long term. At the very beginning, you might want to start by smaller scopes and iterate based on these small groups of innovator because Data Strategy is not about perfection, it’s about listening enough to build a consensus which is good enough and iterate on it. It entirely related to the design method we’re implementing at Toucan with our clients based on iterations and user-centric approach. 


Another critical aspect for him was the users: you need to keep in mind the people who’s consuming the data, and shape your data strategy around those people. Today, as Evan said, “you can’t ignore who touches that data.” One of the key concepts here is to make the data ready to use. It’s not about your convenience as IT teams and how you decided to structure the data, it’s about how your users can consume data.



We’ll talk in more details about Data strategy in other articles, but if you want to start now as we did in this workshop at TDWI, begin by figuring out: 

1) who can I help? 

2) how can I improve his/her current state about Data sharing & accessibility? 

3) how do I implement this improvement step by step? 



Dashboard Design and Performance Measurement – “It’s not about data only; it’s about impact, accountability, and design methodology!


The workshop animated by Mark Peco was truly inspiring for me. I saw a lot of things we are doing with our clients at Toucan, and listening to BI executives in the room helped me understand what are the critical pains for US companies around dashboard design today. 



The main takeaway I want to share from Mark’s pitch is that dashboard design, and performance management is all about impact. A dashboard is not only a piece of software: it’s data, it’s accountability, it’s how management drives it, it’s visualization, … Overall, it’s an organizational issue about exposing, not being afraid of seeing the facts, to challenge them: the full integration of this performance management system will bring impact. 



Another concrete exercise you can get from this TDWI workshop is to look for your WHY before starting building your dashboard. For companies, the WHY could be about: 

  • Efficiency: do more with less
  • Effectiveness
  • Risk 
  • Agility: how quickly can you respond to a change in your market 
  • Innovation 

Knowing why you want to build a dashboard will help you drive your key success factors. Start by finding your WHY, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you and give you more insights on how we go from this WHY to a dashboard development delivering actionable insights to non-technical decision-makers. 



These learnings I share with you are just a tiny part of what I’ve learned in the past five days. Some content can be challenged and open to discussion, so I’d love to engage in a more detailed conversation with you, should you have attended TDWI or not! Please feel free to reach out on my Linkedin to discuss your thoughts! 

I’m looking forward to TDWI Las Vegas in February!


Charles Miglietti, founder & CEO 



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