Reflections on Big Data London 2023

I attended the BDL2023 this year – this is what I found…

I hadn’t been to a big data event in several years, lockdown had got in the way and I had started a new role at Hitachi. I’d been a speaker at the CDAO conference in Munich in 2022 and at a UK Central Government data event, but I had missed the BDL event and it felt like time to go back.

This year is different, there’s real excitement again about data technology. The hype around Generative AI, Data Mesh, and the new Microsoft Fabric announcement is huge. There is so much going on, that when the email from the organisers dropped into my inbox and I had a space in my schedule, I jumped at the chance.

I saw from the app that there were almost 200 exhibitors, 14 theatres and some interesting keynote speakers like Tim Peake. Incidentally, I had seen Tim speak recently on his national tour promoting a new book; he is an excellent and engaging speaker.

The seminar topics were interesting and well chosen: AI & MLOps, Gen AI & Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Governance, Data Mesh & Data Fabric ,Data Strategy, DataOps & Data Observability and the Modern Data Stack. All subjects that I find myself speaking to customers about on a regular basis.

I should have been in data pro heaven… however I can’t help but feel that #BDL2023 is a victim of its own popularity.

There are so many attendees now, that every seminar session is standing room only if you arrive late. The queue to get in snakes round the side of the theatre’s partition, and the only way to guarantee entry is to start queuing up for the next seminar as the previous one starts. I do hope the organisers address this for next year, as the over-crowding really does take the shine off things.

All in all it was a valuable experience, I learned a lot. It’s actually fascinating to realise what you dont know, especially stepping out of the bubble of the Microsoft technology ecosystem. There is a whole other world of open source data technology, many vendors I not heard of before, taking a slightly different approaches, each with something unique to offer. There are my old favourites like Qlik and Tableau and new interesting potential with Databricks, not to mention the “cool vendors” like and DataRobot. I would recommend BDL if you have the chance to go – just choose your schedule wisely.

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