Field Report: TIBCO NOW 2018

FIELD REPORT

I was pleased to be on hand for the 2018 edition of the TIBCO NOW Innovation at the Edge conference in Las Vegas on September 4-6. This was my first time covering the show for insideBIGDATA, and I was eager to get the pulse of the event because you can tell a lot about the state of a company by attending their global user conference. I wasn’t disappointed. The event was very well thought-out, planned and executed. I had a bit of trepidation with the show being held in Vegas (not my favorite destination), but the venue of the Aria Resort and adjacent Convention Center West facility made for an excellent location. I only had to brave the 100+ heat twice, to and from the hotel/airport! In Vegas style, the convention center even had a chapel for impromptu assignations.

I was looking forward to getting an update on TIBCO as insideBIGDATA goes a long way back with the company. In the past, I’ve worked on some very cool marketing programs with the company including a couple of our popular technology guides: insideBIGDATA Guide to Predictive Analytics, and insideBIGDATA: An Insider’s Guide to Apache Spark. So I was eager to meet with some of the company execs to hear what’s new, including a status report on their acquisition spree in 2017: Statistica platform from Dell in May, Cisco data virtualization business in October, and Alpine Data in November (more on this later).

In the spirit of companies transitioning from digital transformation strategy to implementation, TIBCO NOW focused on how businesses can continuously adapt with innovation, and operate at the cutting edge. Innovation is the key to differentiation. Whether you need to grow, transform, or even just survive, innovation is the key to getting and staying ahead. However, according to PwC research, more than 54% of executives surveyed admit they struggle to align innovation strategy with business strategy. The goal for the conference was to show how to make innovation more predictable and repeatable so you can deliver fresh, compelling customer experiences and optimize your company’s operations using the latest technology trends. The many technical sessions allowed attendees to learn how TIBCO customers, partners, and prospects are using the convergence of the Cloud with technologies such as AI, Blockchain, and the IoT, to reinvent their businesses and stay ahead of their competition.

Nice touch! Treats for the techies along with some pretty incredible grilled cheese sandwiches.

The conference addressed three perspectives, all of which are required to lead with innovation:

  • How do you drive innovation within your organization? Discover the traits common to most innovative organizations, and why building the relevant skills and addressing diversity and new generations joining the workforce are requirements for unlocking sustainable innovation.
  • Which technologies are catalysts for innovation? AI, the Internet of Things, and Blockchain hold much promise and propose a foundation for many good ideas. But how can you use them in your context to turn good ideas into innovation and deliver business value?
  • How do you leverage the ecosystem to turbocharge innovation? Your business does not operate in a vacuum, nor does your innovation. Discover the innovation practices that will turn your ecosystem into a launchpad for your innovation initiatives.

As technology and data provide more opportunities to innovate, companies are learning that this change is no longer optional,” said Thomas Been, Chief Marketing Officer, TIBCO. “Leading with innovation is the key to staying ahead of the competition. This year at TIBCO NOW, we will explore what it takes to lead with innovation, and how the TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud drives digital transformation and build innovative organizations that utilize AI, IoT, and blockchain across industries such as financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, and more.”

Late Breaking News

On the first day of the show, I was presented with a number of late breaking news items. Here is a brief summary of the announcements directly relevant to insideBIGDATA readers:

TIBCO Data Science

Probably the most important announcement for insideBIGDATA readers was the third-party cloud marketplace debut for TIBCO Data Science that will be exclusive to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace. TIBCO Data Science, soon to be available in AWS Marketplace, allows data scientists to share and collaborate using big data, machine learning capabilities, while also providing data security and governance.

As part of the TIBCO Connected Intelligence platform, TIBCO Data Science eliminates complex coding for citizen data scientists, making it easy to develop code-free workflows to support data transformation and machine learning, in addition to deep integration with Jupyter Notebooks. With the ability to share and annotate data, set project milestones, and manage project resources, TIBCO Data Science enables seamless collaboration between data scientists, citizen data scientists, engineers, and business stakeholders, enabling rapid development and delivery of results.

Machine learning and the broader AI space are the cornerstones in our strategy to humanize information,” said Matt Quinn, chief operating officer, TIBCO. “By providing streamlined access to TIBCO Data Science, TIBCO decreases companies’ time to insight, providing a uniform view of data to uncover new business opportunities. As analytics adoption increases across the enterprise, TIBCO’s collaboration with AWS will provide organizations with the necessary tools to outshine the competition.”

TIBCO Data Science eliminates the need to move data by executing data preparation and machine learning computations directly within native AWS resources, such as Amazon EMR and Amazon Redshift, Hadoop/Spark clusters, and databases.

During a lull in the action, I happened by the TIBCO Data Science booth in the Technology Hub area, and had a fascinating discussion with Steven Hillion, Senor Director of Data Science. Steve was a co-founder of Alpine Data that was acquired by TIBCO in November 2017. Alpine’s tech became the foundation of TIBCO Data Science. He expressed to me how smooth the acquisition went and how happy he was with the end result. Smooth acquisitions? Almost unheard of!

TIBCO® Connected Intelligence Cloud (TCIC)

Another big message announcement was enhanced capabilities for the TIBCO® Connected Intelligence Cloud (TCIC). TIBCO continues to expand its cloud offerings, empowering businesses to leverage integration, messaging, and analytics capabilities on TIBCO Cloud™ to solve their toughest digital transformation challenges.

TCIC, a complete digital-business platform, allows organizations to interconnect disparate data, identify operational issues or future opportunities, and turn insights into actions. Within one environment, TCIC easily adapts to meet diverse enterprise business needs, from faster time-to-market, to a compelling customer experience.

The additions to TCIC will provide users with highly customizable and simple-to-use functions, such as  business event processing, full lifecycle APIs, and visual analytics. New TCIC products include:

  • TIBCO Cloud™ Events: Event processing tailored for the cloud
  • TIBCO Cloud™ Nimbus®: Intelligent business process modeling
  • TIBCO Cloud™ Starters: Customizable, cross-capability template applications, built by TIBCO LABS™, a collaborative program for customers and partners
  • TIBCO Cloud™ AuditSafe (Beta): Immutable cloud-based audit ledger backed by TIBCO Blocklayer™, TIBCO’s blockchain network

Enhancements to existing TCIC products include:

  • TIBCO Cloud™ Integration with TIBCO Scribe® functionality: Cloud-based integration for businesses of any size and users of any skill level
  • TIBCO Cloud™ Mashery® and TIBCO Mashery® Local: Full lifecycle API management that is also available in user’s own data center as containerized microservices
  • TIBCO Cloud™ Live Apps: Addition of a TIBCO® Live Apps assistant, featuring an automated chat-style interface, based on Amazon Lex™
  • TIBCO Cloud™ Spotfire® X: Data visualization and analytics with the A(X) experience (coming soon)

At TIBCO, we believe that innovation is driven by taking a human approach to data, not simply by increased digitalization,” said Matt Quinn, chief operating officer, TIBCO. “Our goal with the expanded TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud is to create an enterprise-scale platform that augments organizations’ intelligence and humanizes digital analysis. We listened to our customers’ needs, focusing on a seamless user experience, faster speed to market, and the ability to interconnect TIBCO offerings to create dynamic business applications.”

TIBCO Spotfire X

Another big announcement was the A(X) Experience for TIBCO Spotfire®, an industry-first, AI-driven analytics experience that fuses agile data exploration with natural language processing (NLP), machine learning recommendations, and model-based authoring, adding native support for real-time streaming data. This experience will allow users to humanize their data and information, allowing them to make better decisions, faster.

TIBCO’s goal with the A(X) Experience was to harness the power of AI to augment users’ knowledge, magnify their skills, and thereby simplify and speed decision making. Complementing the Spotfire® product’s familiar point-and-click, agile data exploration, the A(X) Experience seamlessly surfaces machine-learning-based guidance, recommending data relationships and uncovering patterns for users as they explore. A user can type a request and Spotfire will not only create visualizations, but also make prescriptive suggestions using the results, such as blending data, marking matched records, or launching analytical tools. Click a value, drag a chart, type a question, and Spotfire will deliver a clear response. The A(X) Experience will be available this fall with the release of TIBCO Spotfire® X.

The A(X) Experience will also feature native support for real-time, streaming data from any source. TIBCO Spotfire® Data Streams, a new module, extends the Spotfire platform with 80 streaming sources out of the box, such as the OSIsoft PI software and WITSML for oil and gas; Bloomberg®, Reuters®, and FIX for financial services; and TIBCO® Messaging (including the recently announced support for Apache Kafka® and Eclipse Mosquitto™), Apache Spark™ Streaming, and others for IoT. Streaming data can be explored like any other data, and can be linked to historical data for context, root cause, and impact analysis.

Companies around the world have more than enough graphs and charts; what they are searching for is faster insight and better decision-making,” said Brad Hopper, vice president, analytics product strategy, TIBCO. “We started investing in AI-driven recommendations several years ago, and we are very excited that, with the A(X) Experience, we have both simplified the practice and increased the power of exploring data. Business users just getting started can nevertheless make important discoveries, and experienced analysts can get their results even faster. We believe the A(X) Experience will help companies get more return from their investments in people and data.”

Great Interviews

The TIBCO internal and external PR folks lined up some compelling interviews for me. Here are some highlights:

Thomas Been, Chief Marketing Officer (click HERE for the full interview)

Michael O’Connell, Chief Analytics Officer

It was great catching up with Michael, as my first full interview with TIBCO was with Michael, dating back to August 2015. He had some interesting insights into the motivation behind the Alpine Data acquisition that has now surfaced as TIBCO Data Science:

We’d been looking for data science tools for a while, and we saw Alpine and thought, this is the future in terms of the cloud UI and it has seamless interactivity between drag-and-drop and a Python notebook. So when you bring a Python notebook node into the visual canvas of Alpine, it automatically introspects the previous point-and-click elements you put on the canvas and gives you the context so you can start you Python coding knowing what’s already been done in the upstream of the visual workflow. So for example, Alpine has a lot of operators for data prep. SQL is injected into the databases whether it’s Teradata or Hadoop or whatever. The data are not moved anywhere. The execution used the MPP engine or the Spark engine. So you get a lot of these workflows where you do a lot of prep against Teradata or Spark or whatever in the drag-and-drop environment, now you can go ahead and do your machine learning, but if you want to do the latest TensorFlow, you just drag the Python notebook node in and it introspects all the data prep work you’ve done and gives you the meta data to continue on with you Python code. We looked around and didn’t see this capability in any of our competitor products so we filed a patent on it immediately. This feature differentiates us with Dataiku and Domino and others.”

Robert Eve, Senior Director of Analytics

Bob recently came to TIBCO via the Cisco data virtualization technology acquisition in October 2017. Like Steve Hillion from Alpine Data, Bob intimated how seamless his acquisition experience was. He had some interesting comments about how TIBCO was “all in” for the cloud and what this future holds:

It’s almost like customers flipped a switch. When the cloud first came out, you had Salesforce and other SasS applications. Now it seems like there’s been a recognition by IT in the data infrastructure business. The customers are looking for the cloud as a destination which means now you have to migrate, but there will always be a few things on prem. The question is how do you get there? The first step is, you have to respond to your customers, you have to go where your customers are. Is it good for us as a business? We can provision the cloud. There are a lot of benefits to business in terms of efficiency and deployment. But I think the customers want a hybrid solution, there will be some on prem elements, and some cloud elements, multiple clouds, SaaS, etc. So they’ll need glue, someone to help them connect everything and then augment that with some intelligence. TIBCO is a company that does all those things. The cloud is an opportunity for us, and I think we’ve done some of the hard engineering, migrate our products to be more cloud native. So now there’s a road map.

Flogo technology stack

Project Flogo

During an evening reception in the Technology Hub area, I spoke at length with Abram Van Der Geest,  Machine Learning Engineer/Project Architect, who had just hired in at TIBCO 3 months prior. He had a great enthusiasm for his project named Flogo and relayed his passion. Flogo is an open source project with TIBCO has the main committer. Abram advised me that Flogo is for the developer who implements machine learning models designed by data scientists, and continued to describe it this way:

The goal of Project Flogo, a robust open source framework of event-driven capabilities, is to facilitate creation of modern app services which are deployed as containers to the cloud, serverless function platforms such as AWS Lambda, or on edge devices. Flogo capabilities include streaming, contextual rule processing and application integration that can leverage hundreds of community contributions, as well as machine learning (ML) models in the form of TensorFlow or TIBCO Statistica.”

Customer Insights

During the conference social events, lunch times, just hanging out in the Technology Hub area, and even when milling around the omnipresent coffee carts, I got some valuable feedback from the many representatives of TIBCO customers. Here are some highlight below:

Dan Hudson, Manager of Systems Integration Architecture, First Citizens Bank:

To increase operational efficiency, our technology objectives were to build a suite of services that could be leveraged across multiple channels so we could write once and re-use many times. Our relationship with TIBCO started back in 2013 when we had three vendors do POCs. We picked TIBCO ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks™ and TIBCO Enterprise Message Service™ for their simplicity and ability to quickly get us up and running. Our customers and business partners saw that in a day we had real-time services running in our development environment. It was so fast and clean that we were able to get to market faster, and we already see that reflected in customer satisfaction.”

Lawrence Wan, Chief Architect, Bank of Montreal

We formed a partnership with TIBCO, based on their expertise, and especially their industry domain experience. With TIBCO automated BPM workflows and resource assignment, we’ve dramatically shortened approval times for commercial lending and mortgage approvals. We also use BPM to interface to the integration platform and facilitate straight-through processing. We consistently see 30 to 50 percent reductions in time to market for our business process automations, and we’re able to reduce integration costs by 40 to 50 percent. We now have robust, agile, highly scalable, and continuously available integration and real-time event processing.”

Gayle Ramsay, Vice President of Customer Analytics, Bank of Montreal

The trust we put in TIBCO, the partnership and the real-time capability they provided, allowed us to continue building a great customer experience. The integration and the events capability allow us to have those relevant timely conversations with our customers across channels. We have the ability to know when the customer comes in what they’ve done previously in another channel and leverage that to continue the conversation.”

Elisa Westlund, Director of Insights, Analytics, and Marketing, Riteway

TIBCO Spotfire looks so clean and works so well. It really separates itself in flexibility and scalability. If I clean my data, another division can use it, along with the same visualizations. We can work together and be independent. With the Spotfire system on Amazon Web Services, I can take the data with me in a way I never could before. Without the cloud, I wouldn’t have the same interactions with our retailers. Since Spotfire analytics went online, we’ve experienced significant business growth. It’s not all because of Spotfire, but it played a key role in our meeting new clients and helping their growth and distribution. For our division, the Spotfire system absolutely paid for itself within the first year.”

Jose Maria Monestina, Senior Application Developer, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

TIBCO Statistica simplifies deployment, execution, sharing of models, and analysis of the data—all in one package. You can store the data model in a server and then reuse it. You can share the data models across the research group. You are not bound to a specific PC or a server. You can run those models using a mobile application or a web browser and access the results.”

Contributed by Daniel D. Gutierrez, Managing Editor and Resident Data Scientist of insideBIGDATA. In addition to being a tech journalist, Daniel also is a practicing data scientist, author, educator and sits on a number of advisory boards for various start-up companies. 

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