In ancient Greece, the Pythia were the succession of resident priestesses at the temple of Delphi; you may be more familiar with their title as “oracles.” Revered throughout the land, the oracle would enter a trance-like state during the hottest week of the summer, and prophesize the future for rulers and statesmen who came seeking guidance.
In early October I had the pleasure of attending Oracle OpenWorld, the annual enterprise technology tradeshow in downtown San Francisco. The city’s legendary fog was nowhere to be seen during four of the hottest days in recent memory as 60,000 IT professionals, business decision makers, and self-proclaimed tech geeks assembled to attend over 2,500 sessions, listen to 3,500 speakers, and meet with 600 exhibitors.
It was after the famed priestesses of Delphi that Oracle (the company) was named - hoping to be a similarly prophetic and influential force in the world. But at OpenWorld, it was not just the host company that aspired to such oracular standing. Among the maze of towering booths and brightly colored buzzwords, countless Oracle partner companies proclaimed their own ability to foresee the tech trends and troubles of the future while promoting their products’ ability to meet the ensuing challenges. With magicians, mimosas, iPads, and vacation giveaways, exhibitors lured in browsing attendees, hoping to arrest their attention long enough to make a further in-depth pitch of their technological soothsaying and come away with new business.
ZL Technologies’ core focus is the unstructured data world of emails, files, and other person-to-person communication. The foundation of our product functionality was built on human data, not the clean and tidy data of traditional databases and BI systems. And as the event was largely attended by current Oracle customers and partners, many of whom deal in the realm of structured data, it might seem quizzical that we even there at all. But that’s where we’d disagree.
Our own prophecies and research over the past several years have suggested that the distinction between data types and their subsequent management are gradually melting. We no longer live in purely “structured” or “unstructured” data spheres. The lines are blurred. Analysis of different data types together can give powerful context not available when those same data sources are sifted in isolation. And this year at OpenWorld, we heard more conversation and sessions on unified data methodology than ever before. The fact that data is being considered as a holistic business entity rather than as discrete silos of information is not only promising and powerful: it’s what we do. Development of our product has steadily incorporated more and more diverse data types over the years, and has aggressively continued to do so.
All in all, OpenWorld was an excellent setting in which to be exposed to the whirlwind universe of trade shows. It’s a convergence of diverse ideas and backgrounds. It’s a technological melting pot, a vibrant mixing bowl, and a glitzy Las Vegas Strip in miniature form…. all in one. It’s dazzling and buzzing with energy. While the focus may have been much broader than what any single product can ever hope to do, it provided an opportunity to talk about what ZL does in terms that any audience could understand. Especially exciting was being present at the convergence of so many great ideas and trends, all with the goal of solving companies’ data problems. With so many would-be prophets selling their visions of the enterprise data future, it’s nice to feel like your own prophecies of years past have actually started to become true.