Monday, April 06, 2009

Every Developer Needs a Roadshow

It's been a few days since returning from the Pentaho Partner Summit. When I get the chance to attend company events, conferences or seminars (the opportunities are rare), I try to sum for myself the benefits of having traveled, gathered and given my attention to the occasion at hand.

In the case of the Partner Summit, I thought of several key revelations that came about as a result of the trip. The one that stands at the forefront of my mind: every developer needs a roadshow.

Not as a roadie in a product tour, or as booth Bob at a trade show, but as an interested attendee at an event that showcases whatever you have been working on as a developer. Mind you, this is not a NEW revelation for me; I've had the privilege of representing Hyperion Analyzer at Java One as a developer on that project, and talked to many talented Oracle folks about Pentaho at ODTUG, as well as many other roadshows of my own. I always have come back saying the same thing to my peers - "You guys have to hear what they are saying! You have to feel the excitement!". ( Yes, their was a maddening amount of energy and excitement around the Pentaho Partner Summit!)

The benefits to sending developers out to events that have nothing to do with development and everything to do with the project or product are many. The first benefit that I got excited about in Menlo Park was that I was able to hear how our partners and customers were using Pentaho. I'm committed to focusing on what questions BI users are asking as I re-enter the BI space as a developer, and this was a prime audience. During networking opportunities, partners told stories about customers with big data on Vertica, MySQL, and InfoBright; in intranets, in DMZs, and of course, now in the Cloud. Pentaho partners OpenBI had an attentive and boisterous audience as they discussed their Cloud implementation with client Nutricia.

I also really enjoyed having face time with the consumers of the fruits of my previous efforts. I have been away for some time, but I think some parts of the Pentaho projects are still riddled with my signature:) It's OK that many, but not all comments were glowing; that's the point, right? I feel like I understand just a little bit better some of our users' pain points. And that puts me in a better place to alleviate some of that pain. (No worries, Brian and Nick and Domingo ... Will and Thomas will get right on native crosstabs!!!)

The Partner Summit event gave me the opportunity to lift my head up from the details of our projects and see the field from our partners' perspective. Can I get a lot of the same information surfing the web or hitting the forums? Sure. The perspective is unique though, to spending time with the people who are providing business intelligence solutions in the market. That, I believe, only comes on the road.

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