It’s not the size of a conference that matters — it’s the conversations. That’s the case at the combined conference of DataWeek and API World 2014 taking place this week at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco’s Japantown.
The small conference brings together an estimated 3,000 people who don’t often mix: system integrators and software developers, looking to learn about different APIs and how to implement them, and less-technical business folks who need to understand why data matters and how their companies can exploit new options for gathering and sharing it across their organizations.
Put on by DevNetwork, with D&B a top-level conference sponsor, the show includes sessions with titles like: Stop Working, Go Home and Use Our APIs, and, 10 Reasons Why Developers Hate Your APIs and What to Do About It. In the hallways and in open talk sessions, people are connecting with one another, learning about customer pain points and common problems.
A panel of D&B and RedHet technical experts had a lot to say about how SaaS is changing how companies manage their customer data. The holy grail of a 360-degree view of the customer is still a complicated proposition.
“Getting data to end users should be easier,” said Mandeep Chadda of RedHat. “That’s why customer intelligence is taking a front seat.”
The litany of problems is familiar: data siloes, incompatible on-premise applications, and poor data quality. It’s also a cultural problem, said Bruce Castner, D&B Senior Product Director and Leader of Business Development and Customer Solutions. “At a lot of these large companies, people have a sense of ownership over their data. And that makes data siloes a real problem, when people don’t want to share. A good data governance program can really help that.”
Adopting common data definitions can help drive enterprise-wide data sharing. For instance, what constitutes a good customer profile? Is the profile for a prospect, an existing customer, a lost opportunity, or a customer up for renewal? Organizations can decide what information they want to put together into their customer profiles, and bring those items together to help them make better decisions, Castner said.
Connecting pieces of data doesn’t have to cost millions of dollars. “My old boss used to say, ‘It’s cheaper to integrate the data than to integrate the systems’,” said Chris Lucas, Leader of Solution Architecture at D&B NA. And then, it’s not necessary to integrate all the data. “You can find views that are viable across platforms, and narrow the universe down from all attributes to those that are cross-system, using data models and defining entities.”
It’s a mashup of quick and nimble and API and SaaS, with process and data governance thrown in, Lucas said. And new options are opening up every day.
“I’m excited about the velocity with which new APIs are coming to market,” said D&B’s Lucas. “The mashup possibilities are endless.”