Big Data Innovation, From The Beginning

A brief history of the Big Data Innovation Summit


At the start of 2012, Big Data was still an unknown to most people. It meant nothing to those outside of the data community, but it was where the journey of the Big Data Innovation summit began.

Innovation Enterprise had been working within the analytics space for a couple of years and so were aware of the movement, but had not made any serious moves into the area. In February 2012, Chris Towers joined the company and was the driving force in creating the Big Data Innovation shows that we know today.

With his background in computer science and his involvement in the data community, Chris suggested that we create a new show ‘Big Data Innovation’. The first summit was scheduled to be held at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco on April 25 & 26 2012 and Chris had managed to pull together an impressive speaker line up thanks to his contacts in the data world.

Initially the number of people in attendance was 150, at a show with one room, one lecturn and one projector screen. It may have been lo-fi, but it set the ball rolling towards where we are now, creating a show with 1000 people in attendance, across 7 different rooms, in one of the area’s largest conference spaces.

After the success and positive feedback from the first show, we began working on both coasts, with shows in April (San Francisco) and September (Boston). By 2013 we were seeing 600 people at each summit and in 2015 there are now over 2000 people attending at least one of the two shows each year.

Anybody who has regularly attended the summits will have seen the numbers of attendees, speakers and tracks grow, but most will not be aware of the opportunities it has created internally.

When we first started, the only person working on the team was Chris, supported by two other members of the wider company in responding to emails, creating signage and taking calls. Today, thanks to the success of the summits, there are 13 full time employees working on the shows that we have across the world. From dedicated creative artists to the friendly voices on the other end of the phone.

All of this was started from Chris’ vision of spreading ideas around the new area and this vision has spread beyond the US, with regular shows now taking place in Australia, the UK, Singapore and China, amongst others. We have estimated that from its humble beginnings, Big Data Innovation has:

- Seen over 15,000 people attending the summits across the globe

- Created an estimated $10 million in business from people connecting at the summits

- Flown the organizers over 1 million air miles to run the summits

- Had over 600 speakers discussing their ideas and work

- Seen one group fly over 11,616 miles to attend our Boston summit from Perth, Australia

- Created over 300 hours of filmed presentations

We have also seen presentations from the world’s largest companies, sharpest minds and gifted speakers. We estimate that we have heard about the inner workings of around 500 companies, willingly telling us about some of the most innovative uses of Big Data in the world at the moment.

The next instalment of Big Data Innovation is in San Jose on April 28 & 29


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