TL;DR (Spoilers incoming)
The first-ever Data & AI World tour was a huge success, and you can expect it to happen again next year in some form (maybe even in Belgium!). Generative AI is a robust ongoing trend, and Databricks utilizes Generative AI to enhance various functionalities and features. This integration has spawned the term "Data Intelligence Platform" by combining Generative AI with a Lakehouse, simplifying data querying, management, and governance processes significantly.
The Data Intelligence Platform does not replace the Modern Data Platform, but actually augments it significantly, and in the case of Databricks, makes their platform the place to be for an ever-growing list of activities (Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analysis, Data Governance, and so on).
There are plenty of other Databricks novelties we are really excited about, such as Lakehouse Monitoring, Project Genie, System Tables, and Lakeview Dashboards, just showing that the pace at which Databricks innovates and develops is unparalleled. However, moving over to the Unity Catalog is essential for accessing most of the newest and most attractive features. Finally, keep an eye out for a potential Serverless revolution taking place next year.
What actually is the Data & AI World Tour?
You might never have heard of this event, and that actually would make a lot of sense because it is the first time it took place. Databricks is well-known for hosting the Data & AI Summit (previously called the Spark Summit), which generally is held in San Francisco end of June, and basically the Data & AI World Tour is a series of mini-summits all around the world! The list of cities where it was held this year is quite extensive: Zurich, Mumbai, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and São Paulo are just some of the 21 cities where it took place this year!
We went for the edition in Amsterdam (I used to live there for more than three years, so there was free nostalgia included for me), and it did not disappoint. There were more than 1500 attendees, with a waiting list of around double the number. This shows you that the interest in Data & AI, especially Databricks, is increasing at a torrid pace. As a reference, we were invited last year to an event of Databricks in Amsterdam where maybe 100 people were present.
When I say it is a mini-summit, you can take that quite literally, everything is similar to the bigger summit in San Francisco but just smaller. Fewer attendees, fewer days (1 vs 4), fewer sessions, fewer trainings but the quality, however, is similarly amazing! And with it being hosted in Amsterdam at the Beurs van Berlage, the location and venue were actually better (and if you like "bitterballen" the food was better as well!).
An especially nice thing is that this event really got adapted for each and every stop on the World Tour. The overall message probably was the same, but it was infused with company testimonials and use cases of companies residing around the different locations. In Amsterdam, during the keynote, there were some nice use cases from FrieslandCampina about how they tackled their data strategy and Albert Heijn on how the Lakehouse setup has enabled them to reduce food waste.
Best of all, our champion Raphael Voortman gave a great session about Data Engineering at this mini-summit with someone from Databricks.
As is the case at most summits, the keynote gives you a great idea of what is trending and what is really living with people and companies all over the world. Unsurprisingly, Generative AI is still booming quite hard (the event took place a week after the Sam Altman Open AI Rollercoaster), and there is a lot of focus on
- how Databricks has incorporated Generative AI to make their offerings better, such as Lakehouse AI
- how Databricks has created new offerings based on Generative AI, such as their Project Genie and the English SDK
- how Databricks makes it possible for companies to run their own version of Generative AI without having to leave the Databricks platform via MosaicML