Saltmarch Media’s BT Summit 2009

BT Summit 2009

A Summit normally evokes a mixed feeling, more so a technology summit.  You can come out fully awed by the inspiring sessions, a feeling of fulfillment on knowing something new or making new acquaintances.  You can also come out eternally bored with the thought that watching a snail race could have been a more profitable source of entertainment.

A success of a Summit depends on the ‘take away’ it offers. The ‘take away’ has a direct and linear correlation with the ability of the Summit to attract and then retain the interest of the participant. A Summit which fails to retain participant interest would soon meander into a purposeless exercise. A Summit has to culminate into something tangible, constructive and productive.

Business Technology Summit 2009 brought to us by Saltmarch media proved to be a shining example of how a Summit can be an inspirational source and a knowledge power house.

Ambience and Arrangements

Ambience plays a key role in the success of any event. We couldn’t have hoped for a better place than the historical J N Tata Auditorium which has played host to several luminaries in the past. The sprawling, stone-walled campus provided the perfect ambience for the Summit.

The registration process was handled very efficiently with the thronging crowd proving to be a perfect testimony to the popularity of the Summit. The Summit kit reflected the excellence  of the organizers, Saltmarch and indeed their media expertise.

The Summit guide was a fantastic piece of documentation proving to be a great source of information containing virtually every piece of information that the participant wanted to know regarding the sessions and the speakers.

By including a brief preamble to each of the sessions, the Summit guide helped the participants to set their expectations accordingly.

The inclusion of a brief biography of the speakers also helped the participants to understand the profile and establish a connect with the speakers even before the Summit began.

The main hall was professionally arranged with the backdrop of the summit theme with screens on either side of the dais enabling the participants to view the presentation without the need to having roving eyes. The acoustics were also set appropriately for a pleasant experience.

Key Note Address

“Well begun is half done” is a famous adage. The Summit proved the veracity of the claim yet again with the  key note address of Mr Howard Charney. Saltmarch Media deserves a huge appreciation for getting a world class thought leader in the form of Mr Charney to address the participants of the Summit.

Mr Charney shared his views on the revolutionary changes that the world has witnessed and drew specific attention to the prowess of the Information Technology revolution. Mr Charney’s address was invigorating, thought-provoking and certainly inspirational. The thunderous applause at the end of his sermon was the clear indicator of the resonance that Mr Charney created among the audience.

I thank Saltmarch media once again for providing the opportunity to hear a great business leader in person and get inspired by him.

The efficiency of Mr Charney’s support staff was witnessed in the manner they managed to forward the slides at the precise moment when he was making a point. Apart from being a great source of inspiration, there were lessons that one could learn from Mr Charney in the manner he handled the presentation.

It was easily the best coordinated presentation that I have viewed in my decade long career.

The next key note speaker set the tone for the central theme of the Summit which was ‘Cloud Computing’.  Mr Ramkumar made a passionate case for Cloud Computing including sharing his views on the use cases for cloud computing.

The key note speakers on day two carried the momentum on cloud computing further.  Mr Nils Puhlman’s address touched upon the critical aspect  upmost in the minds of IT strategists, the issue of Cloud Security.  Mr Puhlman’s address was very insightful seeking to assure the audience that security is continuously evolving to meet the new, emerging security needs of organizations. He also advised the organizations to keep a constant vigil on the security scenario.

Mr Srinivas Varadarajan spoke about the emerging trends in organizations to move towards a Virtual Enterprise. The fact that Mr Varadarajan was speaking in his capacity as an entrepreneur added further credence to his ideas.

Sessions

The various sessions organized by Saltmarch media represented a smorgasbord of options for the IT experts participating in the Summit.

The sessions had very strong emphasis on Cloud Computing apart from covering SOA, BI and ECM. Hard core technologists could certainly relate with the session on REST while the IT strategists could get lot of insights on use of open source.  The Summit  covered aspects such as Governance and Security which is always well received by the IT leaders.

The Summit included an exclusive session dedicated to the Software Architects which was seminal both in terms of the content and the context.

Saltmarch media deserves commendation for the choice of topics which covered a wide spectrum satisfying the knowledge needs of the participants. The speakers of various sessions were virtual leaders in their respective field which ensured that the quality of the sessions were of the highest order. It is to the credit of Saltmarch media that they could bring such a galaxy of IT experts on the same platform.  It is next to impossible for the participants to personally access such experts to know their views on the various topical issues of interest.

I want to outline some of the sessions that I attended and immensely benefitted.

Enterprise Portals 2009 Insights and Why Portals will be big in 2010

Mr Alan Pelz-Sharpe started off by seeking to define what is a ‘Portal’.  He cautioned the audience that Portal is often a misused term. He stressed the importance of branding for the success of Enterprise Portals.  He also spoke about the importance of ‘Lifecycle of Information’.

Mr Alan also touched upon Enterprise 2.0 as the driving force of Enterprise portals. He rounded off the session by giving specific pointers on why portals are in for a big time in 2010.

Self Service Analysis and the future of Business Intelligence

Thanks to Saltmarch media, the participants could for the first time see ‘Gemini’ in action.  Mr Vinod Kumar, Technology Evangelist with Microsoft unveiled what most of the BI community was waiting with bated breath, the SQL PowerPivots.

Mr Vinod also mentioned that it was the very first time in India that PowerPivots was being demonstrated added to the excitement.  Mr Vinod then proceeded to do a demo of the power of SQL powerpivots which had the audience asking for more.  There was so much to cover but for perfectly understandable reasons, the session was planned only for a  shade less than an hour.

Any release from Microsoft generates huge excitement and I am sure PowerPivots would be no exception. I think finally the power of BI has been truly unleashed and SQL PowerPivots would prove to be a huge source of user empowerment.

Business Intellience – Leveraging and Navigating During Current Challenging times

It is always interesting to hear the perspectives of a CIO especially during the challenging times. Mr Vijay Doddavaram shared his insights on how BI can prove to be a successful partner to the business and help the enterprise take qualitative decisions.

Mr Vijay was full of charm and poise adding interesting perspectives on how BI could prove to be a crucial differentiator in these trying times.  Mr Vijay exhorted the IT managers to stop looking inwards  – tools, technology and instead focus more on how BI could provide answers to pressing business needs.

Mr Vijay made a great case for IT managers to focus on understanding the business of the enterprise rather than be enamored with various technical aspects.

10 Things Software Architects should know

Mr Ebin Hewitt chaired this crucial session in which he gave important ‘silver bullets’ for the Architect community. The attendance to this session was almost on par with the key note address reflecting the interest and importance that this session had among the participants.

Mr Hewitt built upon the book ’97 Things Architect should know’ and captured the essential behavioural, conceptual and leadership skills an Architect should possess to achieve success.

Mr Hewitt provided a compelling definition to ‘Architecture’ and touched upon the various facets of the concept of architecture. I have no doubt that any architect who internalizes the 10 Axioms outlined in this session would emerge very successful in any architectural venture. The axioms I am sure would stand the test of time.

Mr Hewitt drew very interesting parallel between Programmer and a Philosopher urging the participants to continuously search for the truth and conceptual clarity while developing applications. I believe this to be a truly outstanding comparison and something that deeply resonated among the participants.

Cloud Computing and Open Source

The session on cloud computing was certainly the one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The speaker Mr Janakiramm had the audience spellbound with his demo of EC2 offered by Amazon Web Services. The session helped the participants to establish the fundamentals of cloud computing including definition, types of clouds and the usage.

Mr Janakiram also touched upon the role of ‘Hypervisor’ and then proceeded to a demo of deploying an application on Amazon cloud. The session hall was jam-packed with several participants standing on the aisle. Despite the discomfort of standing throughout the session, Mr Janakiram’s lucid presentation had left the participants richer with his insights.

Building Enterprise Dashboards

This was yet another packed to the full session with the obvious attraction of ‘Dashboards’. Mr Vivek Khurana started the session on an interesting note asking the participants to share reasons for their overwhelming interest.

Mr Khuranna gave very good insights on building a Dashboard most of which were drawn from his personal experience. The pointers given by him were simple, effective and made perfect sense to the large audience.

He also touched upon the future trends on Dashboards which was received by the audience with rapturous attention.

Implementing Enterprise 2.0 using Open Source

Mr Udayan Banerjee of NIIT shared his experience of building portals for his organization using open source. His opening slide was quite innovative and helped the audience to warm up quickly to the session.

He took the participants through the various technologies of open source platforms and the various interfaces that can be deployed using them. Mr Banerjee was very articulate and answered the queries of the participants with aplomb.

Hospitality

The Summit hospitality was of the highest order and handled very efficiently.  Despite the record participation refreshment and lunch were organized efficiently and with attentive care.

The representatives from Saltmarch were very helpful in addressing the information needs  of the participants and material distribution was also handled with finesse. Despite the hard work, the representatives were full of cheer and enthusiasm all through the day.

In Summary

The Summit was very enriching to the participants most of whom were holding senior positions in several leading organizations.  The range of topics, content coverage and quality of speakers was genuinely international class. The Summit was certainly hugely beneficial to the participants and I am sure all the participants would have returned from the Summit richer by the experience and armed with significant takeaways.

For the purpose of this blog, post the summit, I visited the website of Saltmarch to know more about the people who created this hugely successful event. It was interesting to know that ‘Saltmarch’ derives it’s inspiration and indeed the name from the famous ‘Dandi March’ of the Father of the Nation.

If ‘Dandi March’ represented one of the important steps in the history of India’s independence, Saltmarch’s BT Summit would certainly prove to be a huge stepping stone in creating many a successful career of those who were fortunate to be part of this mega event.

Thank you Saltmarch Media for putting this together. Thanks to all those who have, I am sure, tirelessly worked  to make this event a huge success.

Saint-poet Thirvalluvar who wrote Thirukkural a composition of 1330 couplets covering various aspects of social and spiritual life, rated the gift of listening as the most precious of all wealth.

Couplet No. 411 of Thirukkural (my translation)

The greatest wealth is the gift of listening which is foremost among all wealth.

BT Summit 2009 is a perfect testimony to this couplet.

I thank Saltmarch Media for organizing BT Summit 2009 thus creating the precious opportunity to listen to leading industry experts.

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