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What goes on at the Weasku Inn

If you’re out for networking in the BI industry and keeping score in sheer numbers, you still attend TDWI or Strata. But to go deep with smaller numbers, you try to get into the tiny Pacific Northwest BI Summit, held every July in remote southern Oregon. There’s room for about two dozen people, including press.

It sprang from publicity consultant Scott Humphrey’s file of clients and friends 11 years ago. Then year after year, almost all of his attendees returned. Once you have a seat, you don’t give it up. It’s turned into the BI industry’s Bohemian Grove.

There are no name badges, but who needs them? Anyone you don’t know at first, you’ll know soon enough. Over the event’s four days, there are three or four roundtable talks, hours with drinks and meals on the deck and lawn, more hours over poker or Merv Adrian’s music, plus an afternoon or two on the Rogue River. Though some of what goes on at the Weasku stays at the Weaku, you’ll never forget a single one of the two dozen or so experts, vendor representatives, and press.

At the Summit, held at Grants Pass’s historic Weasku Inn — Clark Cable vacationed there — you watch the the industry unfold up close. This year, that starts with the roundtable discussions, jointly led by one independent expert and one expert vendor representative.

  • Shawn Rogers, research director at Enterprise Management Associates, leads a discussion with Robert Eve of Composite Software on the evolution of data integration.
  • Jill Dyché of Baseline Consulting and Simon Arkell of Predixion Software talk about how to get time with CEOs to pitch BI and what to say.
  • Agile, and how projects get deployed, is a discussion with consultant William McKnight and WhereScape’s Michael Whitehead.
  • Donald Farmer of QlikTech talks to Claudia Imhoff on the trends and possibilities of collaboration.
  • Finally, Colin White of BI Research and Harriet Fryman of IBM will try to separate the hype from big data.

In these discussions, you hear not only the words spoken around the big table but also the group’s subtle, often involuntary punctuation: grunts, chortles, and hums of doubt or humor, the folded note relayed up the table, the wandering or drooping eyes, and the varied depths of silence from one utterance to the next.

Soon enough, a break comes and sometimes an opening for a one to one followup. “Donald,” you might say, “I noticed…” I keep a list of names and questions ready.

At TDWI, these conversations usually go faster. At the Weasku, it seems like there’s nothing but time. That’s how interesting conversations can arise, and topics that easily slip into cliche slip into thought instead. That’s how relationships take root, and relationships alone are worth the trouble.