Impact and reach of the Big Data Spain 2013 conference

The second edition of the Big Data Spain conference was a bigger success than the first event in 2012. Our keynote speakers included Alan Gates at Hortonworks and Sean Owen at Cloudera. Twenty-six world-class speakers talked to an audience of 400 professionals.

The conference from the point of view of organizers

We tell a different story with everyday edition of Big Data Spain. In 2012 we wanted to help close the gap between the state-of-the-art in the US and Europe. We think we fulfilled that goal by inviting the top big vendors on stage to Madrid. This last edition aimed to raise the awareness of Big Data among the business community in Spain. The support of eight sponsors with the biggest names in the market is a testament of our achieving our objectives.
Big Data Spain 2013 probably managed to convey the idea that the technologies are ripe to seduce and co-exist with the enterprise applications. The message is not of disruption, conquest and turning the legacy obsolete but of seamless integration, enhancement of the capabilities of BI architectures and systems and the apparition of new applications.

As organizers we look back in awe at the production of the event itself. It turned out to be an enterprise not fit for the faint-hearted. We braced ourselves to host 400 attendees in 2 cinema rooms for two days. The “super-production” included dozens of specialists, from video producers to stewards. Some seasoned speakers told me that the view of the room from the stage was dramatic. The organization was any less impressive behind the scenes.

The installation and testing prior to the event required one full day that turned out to bit quite tight in time. We tended kilometers of wire for lighting, audio, video and communications. The production of video included 11 technicians and cameramen and the audio and lighting 7 technicians. Add the rental of furniture, the printing of banners, totems, registration cards, lanyards, the insurance and administration and the co-ordination of dozens of staff and you may being to grasp the magnitude of the challenge.

The Big Data Spain crowd is an international one

Some decisions in 2013 proved to be fortunate ones. One of them consisted in not providing interpreters English to Spanish worked out well. It is hard to describe the complexity in logistics and production, not to mention cost and overhead, of simultaneous translation for an event. In 2012 only 17% of the attendees used at least once the headsets that we offered them.  In this 2nd edition, everyone listened to all the talks in English without a blink in their eye.

A trickier decision consisted in dropping real-time web streaming. Streaming is still subject to multiple points of failure, most of them beyond the reach and control of the organizers. While streaming is great for announcements and for interactive sessions, we decided to invest instead all the time, resources and money in a top-notch video production. We believe that apart from the experience and the networking, the videos and slides are the best legacy of any conference. We found out that hiring the video, audio and lighting to a team of experienced producers was not enough; we had to roll up our sleeves and get involved in the decision-making process. For that we had to get familiar with professional video terms like EVS compression and non-linear AVID edition. You can see the results at Big Data Spain youtube channel (soon at Vimeo also) and judge for yourself.

We learned a few more things in 2013

  • Even though we scheduled three (3) hands-on workshops and around 3-4 talks were eminently use cases, our survey shows that very many still expect more case studies getting their hands dirty with more practical sessions.
  • Not surprisingly, our delicious and well served catering was important to keep attendees happy and focused during the long hours of the event.
  • Pay for free beers at the end of day one if you want your attendees to network. That is exactly what we did and we mixed and chatted for a couple of hours at a bar downstairs.

The conference from the point of view of Big Data professionals

We can draw a few conclusions as well. Big Data is maturing at breakneck pace. Only 9 years separate the apparition of a disconnected ensemble of technologies in 2004 designed independently and the surge of platforms whose components are designed to work together from bottom to top. The focus is now on applications rather than in technologies. Tell me what do you want Big Data for and I will suggest you a few technologies that fit your purpose.

A few vendors are now filling the gaps of software and architecture to offer comprehensive and ambitious real-time and interactive uses. The technology is now fitter, cheaper and more performing than ever. More crucially, if the first edition of Big Data Spain increased the awareness of Big Data at CTO and CIO level, this second edition turned it visible to the boardroom level of large companies in Spain. We are proud to have had attendees from companies like El Corte Inglés or Mapfre meet the most relevant professional of Big Data at the event. Big Data is now a reality for the enterprise and large corporations.
You could feel the excitement and momentum of Big Data for two days in Madrid. The question now is whether your company is going to adapt Big Data, but rather when and how.

No time for complacency

Many people are surprised to know that the work of organization of an annual event of this caliber starts exactly next day after the event. We are now working on Big Data Spain 2014. If you are among those who shape up this industry, drop us an email and we will talk about how to contribute to the conference in November.

Until then, a few final words. All this effort was worth every minute of it thanks to the people that I met and I worked with. We put together world class speakers with top professionals in a venue for two days. A couple of experts told me that there are no events about Big Data of this size and outreach in their countries (France and Italy). We proved to ourselves that it is possible to organize and host the technology event that we would have liked to attend. We hope to inspire others.

We thank every single one of those of you who attended the conference, speakers, sponsors, staff, media and everyone who had comment for us. Last but not least, special thanks to Abraham Otero of javaHispano for his experience, his dependability and his patience with us

On a note closer to home, BDS13 was special to us in that Stratio, a Spark-based platform, was announced. Stratio shares a bunch of founders and investors with Paradigma and it will be a hot start-up to watch unfolding.

The conference in numbers

Key metrics of the conference

THE EVENT – Logistics

  • 2265 sq. meters of venue and 2 rooms of 400 seats each.
  • 10 WiFi Access Points with 20 Mbps via satellites.
  • 18 projection, video, audio and lighting technicians.
  • 5 cameras, 24 loudspeakers, 2 mixers.
  • 20 waiters and catering staff.
  • 15 organization staff.
  • 4 stewards.

OUTREACH of Big Data Spain’13

THE COMMUNITY

  • 873 followers on Twitter
  • 1,600 subscribers to our newsletters
  • 485 connections on LinkedIn
  • 231 members of the BigDataSpain.org group on LinkedIn

MBA with more than fourteen years of experience in Paris and London, today he is a part of Paradigma in the areas of digital marketing and analytics. Ruben has the good fortune to head the team organising Big Data Spain conference, one of the most important analytics events in Europe, Cloud, and Artificial Intelligence

See all Rubén Martínez activity

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