Svetlana Sicular, Research Director at Gartner, attends the inaugural GraphConnect conference on graph databases and encourages thinking in graphs.

Earlier this week, I went to the first GraphConnect conference! I love inaugural conferences: they attract true enthusiasts — virtually anyone you get to talk to has an amazing insight or an amazing insider. Someone in the audience said, “So happy to not have to explain what a graph is.” I won’t explain it too, but will share my thoughts and takeaways. (My favorite book with explanations is Network Analysis, co-incidentally, by two Russian authors (I wonder, what they thought when they first heard about the graph theory.))

Somehow, it struck me at the conference that graph databases are noSQL. Maybe, as an analyst, I should classify them as such — but they could equally be noCobol, noFat or noNonsense. I prefer — yesFuture: up until today companies have been collecting data about entities: what do I know about this product, what parts it consists of, when this product was produced or where were we selling it. Organizations start thinking about relationships their data contains: what is the place of this product among other products, what its dependencies on the parts are, how do we divide the product revenue by a business unit? If it’s a customer, how is this customer related to others? Who is a customer of my customer? Who is a friend of my friend? I learned at #GarphConnect that targeting a network of friends is more effective than targeting an individual influencer.

Most speakers at GraphConnect were somewhat apologetic: graph databases don’t solve world peace but just a piece of a puzzle of the data-driven world. Don’t be apologetic – better evangelize! Explain, enlighten and elucidate what graphs are capable of. Do it in a small way and in the big way. Don’t be shy to say that graphs are a new and noble way of thinking about data. And yes, I tell my clients to start thinking what graphs can solve for them. I suggest, take the data you have and look at it as a graph — you will learn something new for sure (a pseudo-tweet).

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