Category: PASS Business Analytics Conference

PASS Business Analytics Conference

BAC 2015: Even More for Business and Data Analysts to Love

Sept. 16, 2014  With registration for PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 opening early next week, I wanted to share some of the exciting new things we have in store for business and data analysts in April and throughout the coming year.

Who’s the BA Conference For?
The BA Conference is for those who work in business and data analytics using Excel and PowerBI, as well as other technologies such as SQL, Hive, and R. 

Unlike other BA-related conferences, our BA Conference – true to PASS tradition – is focused on real-world training and connections designed to have an immediate and direct impact on attendees and their organizations.

As both our new BA and core SQL Server/BI communities continue to grow, we’re seeing a greater demand for training and support specific to each group. While SQL Server and BI pros are typically architects, builders, and facilitators of data and analytics systems, business and data analysts extract data from these systems to gain insights and drive the decision making process. They are the data consumers – the customers, clients, and colleagues of PASS’s DBA, developer, and BI community members. 

This year, through the BA Conference (as well as upcoming webinars and analytics-focused content), we’re answering the call to meet the unique needs of business and data analysts, who are asked to do more with data every day. Every BA Conference learning and networking experience will be concentrated on the BA perspective and focused on the skills, technologies, and methods they need to investigate business performance and influence business planning. 

The Program
PASS launched the BA Conference in 2013 to support our data colleagues on the business side, and since then we’ve been fine-tuning our session content, formats, and networking offerings. Next year’s event takes that a step further with a program laser-focused to deliver practical, best-practices information, hands-on training, and visionary thought leadership. 

Experienced business and data analytics professionals are in high demand and short supply. Leading organizations are looking for people with a unique combination of data technology skills, business knowledge, and analytical expertise – paired with strong professional skills – to drive decision making and core profitability. 

Our BA Planning Committee has done an excellent job mirroring these requirements with an outline of classroom sessions, hands-on workshops, and expert panels organized into five real-world tracks. We’ll be covering everything those in business and data analytics need to know about Excel, Power BI, SQL, R, Hive, Machine Learning, and more.

The Speakers
As PASS works to grow and support our young BA community, we’re also working to grow our pool of business and data analytics experts and speakers.

PASS is about community, and we believe that to serve and grow the BA community as part of PASS’s expanding membership, we need to provide the best possible program and experience for our BA Conference attendees and future PASS members. We are fortunate to have seen such amazing growth and maturity in our speaker pool from PASS’s traditional SQL Server/BI Pro membership, and we want the same level of excellence for our growing BA audience. 

As we’ve refined our program approach and reviewed the feedback from previous years, it’s become clear that we need to target the right mix of BA topics and expertise. So this year’s conference speaker lineup will be comprised of a group of handpicked experts – an approach used by many conferences – to bring the highest quality experience to attendees; we will not be having an open call for speakers. Our goal is to accelerate our BA community-building efforts through this process. Identifying and growing knowledgeable and talented community contributors will allow us to integrate a community speaker component in next year’s event while maintaining the level of excellence and real-world value that we are committed to for all our members and attendees. 

I can’t wait to share our program and speakers list for BA Conference 2015! Watch for the initial lineup in early November.

Following a Great Lead
Founded in the database space, PASS was brought to life by passionate SQL Server pros with a vision to connect, share, and learn.

PASS is all about meeting the needs of data professionals, providing world-class training and thought leadership, and supporting and promoting a community of like-minded people. It’s a great model to follow and a firm foundation for a growing conference and community that supports our Business Analytics brothers and sisters.

To all the SQL Server and BI community members who’ve paved the way, we ask for your help in reaching out to your business and data analytics colleagues, letting them know how important the PASS community has been in your own career, and encouraging them to check out the PASS BA Conference and our other BA offerings. We couldn’t ask for better community evangelists!
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing

PASS BA Conference in Review

May 14, 2014 – Last week’s PASS Business Analytics Conference featured three days of professional networking and the latest in analytics education delivered by the world's top BA/BI experts.

Relive your favorite moments or catch what you missed by watching the Day 1 keynote with Microsoft’s Kamal Hathi and Amir Netz and the Day 2 keynote with data visualization expert David McCandless. Then see what bloggers had to say (Day 1 | Day 2), check out our Flickr feed, and make sure you purchase a USB of all conference session and keynote recordings.

We look forward to seeing you next year in Santa Clara, CA, April 20-22  sign up today to receive conference updates!

Free Day of Online Business Analytics Learning – What’s Not to Love?

January 15, 2014  As a data engineer at her “day job,” PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney has a special affection for business analytics. We caught up with her ahead of Feb. 5’s 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition to see what she’s looking forward to at the free day of online business analytics learning.

Podcast: Listen to Denise talk more about business analytics, business intelligence, and PASS’s upcoming training opportunities in this podcast interview with SearchSQLServer.com.

What is 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition?
24 Hours of PASS: BA Edition (24HOP: BA) is a day of free, live, back-to-back webcasts on how to get the most from your data, presented by some of the most knowledgeable and top-rated speakers from the world of business analytics and business intelligence. This edition features 12 live sessions – each with its own Q&A segment – followed by 12 hours of on-demand replay in case you miss a session or want to rewatch your favorites.

Thanks to our sponsors – Microsoft, Cisco, Confio, Dell Software, and SQL Sentry – we’re able to bring 24 Hours of PASS: BA edition to BA and BI professionals at no cost. In true PASS fashion, it’s a great community event that brings data professionals from around the world together to connect, share, and learn.

In the week since registration opened, each 24 Hours of PASS: BA session already has at least 700 registrations. So we’re looking forward to a blow-out event!

What will the sessions cover?
The sessions will cover best practices and the latest tips on everything from data analytics and visualization, predictive analytics, and data science to Big Data and information delivery, strategies, and architecture. We have sessions on Excel 2013, Power BI and Power Query, the Enterprise Data Warehouse, Parallel Data Warehouse, querying in DAX, data visualizations in SQL Server Reporting Services, and more.

And whether you’re a BA/BI novice or ready for advanced techniques, we have a session for you. I love it that we have “Predictive Analytics for Absolute Beginners” – our most popular session so far – as well as “Advanced Analytics in Excel 2013.” 

Who should attend?
If you’re passionate about business analytics, this event is for you: data and business analysts, data scientists, data architects, BI professionals, IT pros… Whether you’re already working in analytics or looking to make a transition or just learn more about this fast-changing industry, you’re going to come away with practical information that you can use right away for managing, analyzing, and sharing business information and insights.

What’s your favorite part of 24 Hours of PASS?
For the past 2 years, I’ve been responsible for PASS’s online training opportunities as Director of Virtual Chapters and 24 Hours of PASS. And although as PASS VP of Marketing I’m no longer directly in charge of 24 Hours of PASS, I still feel a special connection to the event.

Since 2009, 24 Hours of PASS has grown into a well-known and well-loved event in the SQL Server community. And what’s not to love? Excellent content from top experts in the field delivered directly to your computer – wherever you’re located in the world – for free.

I’m thrilled that we’ve expanded this valuable training opportunity to BA and BI professionals. At last year’s first 24HOP: BA event, we saw almost 30,000 registrations across 89 countries. It’s just a fantastic complement to the free online learning that our Business Analytics, BI, Big Data and other Virtual Chapters provide throughout the year, as well as a great preview event in the lead-up to the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference in May.

What is 24HOP: BA’s relationship to the PASS BA Conference?
All 24HOP: BA speakers will also be delivering in-person sessions at the PASS BA Conference May 7-9 in San Jose, CA. So it’s a nice sneak peek at the world-class business analytics sessions and speakers who will be on tap there. If you enjoy 24HOP: BA, you’re going to love the BA Conference.

When is 24HOP: BA again?
Please join us from the comfort of your office, home, or home office on Wednesday, Feb. 5, beginning at 8am PT (11am ET, 16:00 GMT) for a great day of business analytics learning. Tell your friends, and make sure you follow us on Twitter at @PASS24HOP / #pass24hop for all the latest updates.

How do you register?
Seating in the virtual meeting room is limited, so you’ll want to register now and make sure you’re in the session early the day of the event. From the website, just select the individual sessions you want to register for – or like some die-hard attendees who attend them all, click “Select All” – and then click Register. You’ll receive an email confirmation containing your meeting access links and can add the events to your calendar through the iCal links.

I’m looking forward to having as many business analytics professionals as possible join us for this great online event. Make sure you register today!

2014 Is Here: Let’s Get to Work!

January 7, 2014 – 2013 was a wonderful year for PASS. We grew in service to data professionals around the world across many areas – adding 31 local PASS Chapters, six new Virtual Chapters, and the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference – and welcomed over 16,000 new members. With 2013 now in our rear-view mirror, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for PASS.

Before we dive into the coming year, I want to thank Rushabh Mehta, Douglas McDowell, and Rob Farley for their many years of service to the PASS community as they leave the Board of Directors. Their hard work and dedication will be sorely missed.

Let’s also take a moment to welcome the new Directors joining the Board for 2014-2015: Amy Lewis, Jen Stirrup, and Tim Ford. Amy will be taking over PASS Programs, Jen will lead Virtual Chapters, and Tim will be responsible for the SQLSaturday portfolio. You can read about all the Board portfolio assignments on the PASS blog.

As PASS continues to grow, the Board understands the need for Directors to shift away from their historical role as “doers” and toward setting direction through strategic thinking. We have been taking measured steps as part of this transition. And after the 2013 elections, I shared the vision that myself, Adam Jorgensen, and Denise McInerney have for PASS as your Executive Committee (ExeCo).

Vision statements are good, but actions are better. So to start, every Board member is outlining their portfolio tasks so that we make certain they roll up to our higher-level goals and that we hold each other accountable. In my years on the Board, we have had a lot of great ideas but struggled with follow-through and accountability. We are aiming to change that in 2014.

I’ve asked all Board members to submit their goals for 2014 before Jan. 13. The ExeCo will then review the goals before the Board’s January in-person meeting and provide feedback about any tasks not aligned with the overall vision.

With your help – and the leadership of dedicated Board members – I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running this year.

Let’s make 2014 a year to remember, together.
Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Announcing PASS Board Portfolios for 2014

October 11, 2013 – With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte next week, it’s time to meet your Board portfolio leaders for the coming year. It’s been a pleasure, as one of my first tasks as incoming PASS President, to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use.

Here are the portfolios for 2014:

  • James Rowland-Jones led our Global Growth portfolio over the past year, helping us gather feedback and lay the groundwork for better supporting the global community, including converting two seats on the PASS Board to regional seats. JRJ will remain with Global Growth and also lead Special Projects.
  • Sri Sridharan began his term on the Board last year with the reinstated Volunteers portfolio and will continue the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions.
  • Wendy Pastrick will continue leading our Global Chapters portfolio, working to grow and support local user groups with a great team of Community Evangelists and Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors throughout the world.
  • Amy Lewis, newly elected to the Board, will begin her term heading up the Programs portfolio. Working with Director Adam Jorgensen, Amy has served as co-manager of PASS Programs for 2 years, helping improve processes and lead the team that selects sessions for PASS Summit and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
  • Jen Stirrup, elected to the new EMEA regional seat on the Board, will put her experience as PASS BI Virtual Chapter co-leader to valuable use in guiding the Virtual Chapters portfolio.
  • Tim Ford, elected to the new US/Canada regional seat, will take over the SQLSaturday portfolio. A passionate SQLSaturday supporter, Tim organized Kalamazoo, MI’s first SQLSaturday. Over 80 SQLSaturdays were held throughout the world in FY2013, and we’re expecting continued growth of these popular free, 1-day training events as we focus on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe.

The 2014 PASS Board also includes the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Adam Jorgensen; VP, Marketing, Denise McInerney; and Past President Bill Graziano – and Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft.

The transition to new assignments is underway, and new portfolio leaders will be meeting with community leaders and volunteers at Summit to get a jump-start on their projects. Make sure you say “Hi” at Summit, join us at the Board Q&A on Friday, Oct. 18, and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock


 

Chapter Referral Program

May 13, 2013 – After receiving positive feedback on the PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC) Chapter referral program – 14 local PASS Chapters received monetary rewards by participating! – a similar program for PASS Summit has been created. For PASS Summit 2013, any local PASS Chapter (by local, we mean that your Chapter meets in-person) is eligible to participate.

All Chapter leaders should have received a unique discount code to share with their members. When the discount code is used to register for PASS Summit 2013, the Chapter receives $50 USD, with a maximum of $1,000 to be paid out at the completion of the event. Please note that use of the Chapter discount code is not retroactive and cannot be applied to an existing PASS Summit registration.

The following PASS Chapters benefited from the BAC referral program:

St. Louis SQL Server User Group

$100

Capital Area and Central Texas Users of SQL Server (CACTUSS)

$50

Chicago SQL Server User Group

$200

I380 Corridor PASS Chapter (East Iowa)

$50

Southwest Missouri SQL Server Users Group

$50

Madison Professional Association for SQL Server (MADPASS)

$150

Orlando SQL Server Users Group

$100

Rochester PASS

$50

Chicago SQL BI User Group

$50

Sweden - SQLUG

$150

West Michigan SQL Server User Group

$200

Cincinnati PASS (CincyPASS)

$100

SQL Server User Group Norway

$150

MN Microsoft BI User Group

$250

 

PASS BA Conference: Another First

April 16, 2013 – The inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference made its mark on Chicago and the world of business intelligence and analytics last week, featuring 1,150+ registrations and almost 900 attendees from across 26 countries. Thanks to all our attendees, speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and organizers for making the event such a success!

From amazing keynotes by Microsoft’s Kamal Hathi and Amir Netz and Freakonomics author Dr. Steven Levitt, to over 60 sessions by 85 of the BI/BA industry’s top experts and a Community Appreciation Party at Lucky Strike, the event delivered world-class training and nonstop networking opportunities. Many attendees also spent a day in one of the BA Conference’s five pre-conference sessions or took advantage of the co-located BigDataCamp meet-up before the Welcome Reception.

Check out all the highlights – including Microsoft’s public preview announcement of 3D mapping tool Project codename “GeoFlow” for Excel - in our community blog post roundups and on our Facebook photostream.

If you missed the conference or just didn’t get to all the sessions you wanted to, you can own the full set of PASS BA Conference session recordings on USB flash drive, including 60+ conference sessions and the Microsoft keynote. Order yours today!

More Business Analytics
Join Microsoft’s Roger Barga, who wasn’t able to make the PASS BA Conference due to weather, for a webinar presentation of “The Unrealized Power of Data,” Thursday, April 25, at noon ET – hosted by the PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter.
 

Making Progress: PASS Board Year 2, Q1

April 15, 2013 – Cross-posted from my blog

With each of these quarterly posts, I want to be able to report progress in the areas I'm responsible for. I'm pleased to share some key milestones from the past three months.

New Webinar Platform
Last year it became clear that we needed a more stable, scalable webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters and 24 Hours of PASS. Both the VCs and 24HOP continue to grow and attract larger audiences, and the technology we were using was not meeting our needs.

We discussed requirements with VC leaders and HQ staffers who work on 24HOP. We got proposals from seven or eight vendors and had live demonstrations from those that would meet our needs. In the end, we chose GoToWebinar from Citrix. Several VC leaders have been trained on the new platform, and a couple have started to use it. And we will be using GoToWebinar for the next 24HOP event.

Projects like these require organization and attention to detail. I want to recognize the work of HQ staffer Vicki Van Damme, who has been instrumental in getting us to the finish line.

24HOP
Our first 24HOP of the year was held at the end of January. It was also our first Business Analytics Edition and featured a number of speakers who [also presented] at the PASS Business Analytics Conference. Focusing a 24HOP on business analytics reflects PASS's outreach to data professionals in this growing sector of our industry. Check out the session recordings to learn more about the work being done in this space.

Virtual events are a key part of PASS global growth. 24HOP Russian Edition was held in March. Thanks to the volunteers who worked hard to put on this event.

Virtual Chapters
We launched two new VCs this quarter. The Business Analytics VC has already hosted four meetings and is playing an important part in PASS's growth into the BA world. The Book Readers VC is a virtual book club, where members get together online to discuss a book. They are starting with Itzik Ben-Gan's "T-SQL Fundamentals for SQL Server 2012." There is still time to read the first few chapters and join the discussion on April 17.

Virtual Chapters provide valuable technical training every month. Sign up for the VCs that interest you to get notified of upcoming events.

Other Business
The Board met in January and discussed many items, including goals for the year, by-law changes, election process, and Summit. See the meeting minutes for details. In February, we adopted changes to the by-laws. And last week, I was in Chicago for a Board meeting and the BA Conference.

Budget planning is in full swing, and I've been working on the budgets for 24HOP and VCs.

Next Up
In May, I'll be attending SQLBits, where I'm looking forward to meeting more members of the SQL community in the UK.

Planning for the next 24HOP will get underway soon, work on the budget will continue, and we'll finish rolling out the new webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters.
 

Business Analytics? There’s a Virtual Chapter for That

Cross-posted from the BA Conference blog

March 6, 2013 – As the new PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter prepares for its third meeting – a gentle, business-focused introduction to Big Data – you can catch up on February’s presentations and plan to make this free training part of your monthly schedule.

Stacia Misner will take the VC’s webcast stage March 14 for “A Big Data Primer” (noon ET/16:00 GMT) to demystify Big Data, look at its implications for traditional data warehousing and reporting, and explore the technology and skill sets you need to successfully implement a Big Data strategy.

“This is going to be a great real-world session,” notes VC leader Melissa Demsak. “You’ll definitely leave with some inspiration and practical steps for tackling your first Big Data project.”

With a mission to provide quality virtual training to business analysts, BA/BI practitioners and architects, and data scientists, the VC’s focus is on creating a community for shared learning and enabling the creation of world-class business analytics solutions based on the Microsoft platform, Melissa explains.

“Our topics will naturally intersect with those presented by several of our sister VCs – Business Intelligence, Big Data, Data Architecture, and Master Data/Data Quality – but we’ll be covering them from an analytics perspective,” she adds. “We’ll also include non-Microsoft solutions and topics outside the traditional SQL Server and BI community, such as data visualization, analytics, and data science.”

The BA VC meetings, scheduled for the second and/or fourth Thursday of every month, will all be recorded and archived for on-demand viewing. Recordings of the group’s first two meetings – Mark Tabladillo’s “A Case for Business Analytics Learning” and Chris Webb’s “What’s New for BI in Excel 2013” – will be available soon.

You can become a member of the BA VC by simply clicking Join next to Business Analytics in the list of VCs on the PASS Virtual Chapters page. “We'll keep you posted of all upcoming meetings, learning opportunities, and the latest and greatest information from Microsoft,” Melissa says. “We also have a special $200 discount code for the PASS Business Analytics Conference coming up in April – if you haven't signed up yet, just use the code BAC941VC when you register for some nice savings."

Interested in speaking at an upcoming BA VC webinar? Email your ideas to passbavc@sqlpass.org, and make sure you follow the VC on Twitter at @passbavc.