Category: Virtual Chapters

BA Community Goals for FY 2017


I wanted to take this opportunity to follow up on the recent blog from Denise McInerney, The Future of the BA Community. That blog spoke to the history of BA and PASS, and also detailed why PASS has decided not to host a BA Conference in 2017. I won’t go into any more of that reasoning here – you can read that in the blog – but what I will touch on are some of the strategies for community building and the BA Community goals for FY 2017.

If it wasn’t already clear enough in Denise’s blog, it should be stressed again, that even though we are not proceeding with a BA Conference next year, we are still focused on developing and strengthening our BA community. Our team has been prioritizing activities to support meeting our goals and support PASS’ overall strategic priorities of membership growth and engagement. These priorities were developed based on the status of our current business analytics community; see infographic:

<Click on image to view PDF>

These priorities include:

- expanding and maturing local and virtual events
- community leadership and engagement (advisory program)
- establishing thought leadership content.

The strategy is designed to take a more localized, grassroots approach to building and supporting the PASS BA Community. Our efforts will include ongoing thought-leadership development within the business analytics community. We will deliver regular BA Marathons throughout 2017 and will also establish regular thought-leadership podcasts with leading influencers and business analytics experts. We will also engage our BA Advisors and experts on a variety of topics throughout the year.

At the core of the strategy is a series of BA Days, one-day events that focus on in-depth training and longer sessions on leading topics specific to business analysts. We are currently putting together a pilot event set for January 2017 and have invited community members to reach out to us expressing their interest in partnering with PASS to host a future event.

Finally, we will continue to work with our established Virtual Chapter Leaders to further support their needs and educational content. This includes thought leadership pieces and new webinar formats (e.g., the ExcelTV and Excel BI VC partnership, with the first event to be delivered on August 16, 2016).

We want to continue to build, strengthen and streamline these efforts using the aforementioned goals. If you have any feedback or thoughts on how we can build the community, please reach out.

Jen Stirrup

Director, PASS Business Analytics

The Future of the BA Community



Everything we do at PASS is focused on helping members—and the broader data community—connect with each other, share experiences, and improve their skills. We are dedicated to providing networking opportunities, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning across all our Local and Virtual Chapters and communities. In 2012, we embarked on an initiative to reach out to the growing number of business and data analytics professionals tasked with extracting meaning and value from their organizations’ data.

Over the past 4.5 years we have learned a lot about the needs of those who work in Business Analytics (BA). We have presented thought leadership and technical training at four annual Business Analytics Conferences, helping thousands of data professionals use technologies such as Excel, Power BI, SQL, and other analytics platforms to gain insight into their business. And our community continues to grow, with more than 25,000 PASS members from around the world identifying a professional interest in BA and 27% year-over-year (May 2015 - May 2016) growth in the BA Virtual Chapter.

At the same time, the data professionals who manage the systems that store data are being challenged to support analytics needs in new and different ways. From running R in SQL Server to providing users with self-service access to data through Power BI, to unlocking the possibilities of advanced analytics through the Cortana Intelligence Suite, the technical interests and educational needs of DBAs and Developers in IT, and data analysts in the business, are increasingly overlapping.

As more companies across all industries are embracing data to inform their decision making, the growth opportunities for PASS members abound.

I’d like to share with you the evolution of the strategic direction of our BA initiative. The heart of the plan moving forward is community growth, with a focus on expanding outreach to increase visibility, by strengthening local groups, and broadening the scope of our analytics community globally.

A major component of PASS’ BA initiative has been the BA Conference. At BA Conference 2016 we again attracted the right business analytics audience and provided them with relevant content. BAC 2016 received an overwhelmingly positive response from attendees; 91% were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied and most said they would recommend BAC to a colleague. However, despite very positive attendee feedback for the BA Conference the past two years, the event has not grown in attendance.

The PASS Board spent time reflecting on all we have learned the past four years and has decided to take a more comprehensive, multi-prong approach to BA community engagement in FY17. We will emphasize local events and user groups, expanded virtual engagement and Marathon series, and thought leadership, instead of investing the majority of time and resources into a single large conference. PASS knows that the best way to grow community is to be in the community, working alongside our members and volunteers. If you are interested in hosting a local event or for more information, contact Teresa Cheung (teresa.cheung@sqlpass.org).

We believe a more localized effort with a variety of offerings will drive more effective engagement and growth for our PASS community. As the community evolves, the PASS Board will continue to assess and adjust. While we will not be hosting a BA Conference in the spring of 2017, we are open to holding another large BA event at a later date.

Business Analytics is a natural extension for PASS. We are committed to helping data professionals connect, share, and learn, whether they work in IT or in the business. We are very excited about the opportunities ahead and look forward to the continued growth and success in the area of Business Analytics.

Denise McInerney
Vice President, Marketing

Virtual Chapters Portfolio Update


Hello all. I’d like to take a few moments to update you on the Virtual Chapters (VC) portfolio. I’m excited to share that we are on-track to deliver a total of 35,000 training hours by 30 June 2016. We are also making good progress on our target to increase VC registrations from the LATAM and EMEA regions by 25%.

Our growth in regional attendees is tremendous in supporting our global community. But this has also made us acutely aware of the need to expand our time zone availability, as most VCs are currently held between 5pm and 6:30pm UTC. This time frame makes it difficult for southern hemisphere attendees to be involved. We are currently undertaking an off-hours pilot project with select VCs to investigate how we can expand these time zone offerings to other VCs.

We are also currently developing a VC Learning Pathways page where you will be able to easily access a variety of previously-recorded VC sessions. They will be categorized by topic and we’ll also have a “Highlights” section that will feature the top sessions chosen by VC leaders. This is an exciting new addition and we hope you will enjoy easy access to the many incredible presentations put on by our community members.

These are some of the activities we are undertaking to enhance Virtual Chapters in 2016. As we work to make changes and bring you improved learning opportunities throughout 2016, I will share more details with you.

Thanks,

Wendy Pastrick
Director, PASS Virtual Chapters

PASS Database Administration Virtual Chapter Profile


The Team at PASS recently sat down with Sharon Dooley, leader of the Database Administration Virtual Chapter, to discuss one of the oldest and most established chapters in the PASS community. Sharon tells the story of how the DBA VC developed over the years as well as where the chapter will go in the future.

Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the DBA VC.

Back in the day, PASS formed Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs). TACs were intended to provide “wish lists” for SQL Server development to Microsoft. These wish lists were to come from suggestions by members of the SIGs. Today, the TACs no longer exist and the SIGs have morphed into Virtual Chapters. When we were still a SIG, we started having Live Meeting presentations. The Live Meeting Call to Action document I wrote describing this initiative is dated March 15, 2007. I think we were the first SIG to reach out to our membership in this way. We started with one meeting each month. Now we have two meetings each month, except for November and December when the holidays limit us to one. I am grateful for the dedicated assistance of Julie Bloomquist and Mike Clark with the work of this VC. Both have been working with the VC for a very long time, and I know the VC wouldn’t be the same without their help.

Q2. What is the aim of the DBA VC?

Our mission, as stated on our web page (dba.sqlpass.org) is “… to provide a PASS community for the DBA. It provides a forum for open discussion and education on issues that face SQL Server database administrators”.

Q3. You have been a volunteer with PASS for a long time – what keeps you motivated and what would you suggest to your fellow community members looking to get involved?

I’ve been a member of PASS since its first conference in 1999. That’s a long time – 17 years! During that time, I have served in many volunteer capacities. I think PASS provides folks with a wealth of learning activities, from VCs to SQLSaturdays to Summit. I received a lot of help from an online community when I first started working with SQL Server (I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was!) and volunteering with PASS is a way for me to give back. Going to Summit is like going home for me – I have so many PASS friends! Julie echoes this, saying “I have been able to increase my PASS involvement and friendships through my work with the Virtual DBA chapter.” For folks who are on the fence about volunteering, I’d say “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Q3. DELL is one of your sponsors, can you tell us a bit about that relationship and how this benefits the VC audience?

Dell Software has sponsored the DBA VC for several years. We appreciate their support since it allows us to raffle a gift card to attendees at every meeting. When Dell first started sponsoring us, the sponsorship agreement required us to give them a 10-minute speaking spot each quarter. Since I don’t think you can present anything useful technically that time, I offered them full one-hour slots twice a year with the proviso that the talk not be of a marketing nature. More recent sponsorship contracts have followed my original lead. In addition, Dell, as our sponsor, has the opportunity to send targeted mailings to the Chapter membership. These mailings acquaint our membership with products they may find useful and also often offer discounts.

Q4. How does the DBA VC fill training gaps?

Being a DBA is not an easy task, and there seems to be a hunger for training. Today, when organizations often lack the resources to send DBAs for formal classroom training, our bi-monthly webinars (always scheduled at lunch time in the time zone they are targeted for) give DBAs a chance to learn at their own convenience and at no expense to their employers. And if someone can’t attend one of the webinars, we record the meetings for later viewing.

Q5. What have you got planned in the near future for the DBA VC?

We’d like to add a quarterly webinar in a European time zone. This would make it easier for Europeans to present (I’ve just scheduled a speaker in Amsterdam who’ll be doing our Noon Mountain Time session – it’ll be 8PM for him!) and it will make it easier for people in Europe to attend these webinars. We haven’t worked out when this is going to start, but probably during the second quarter.

PASS Voting Eligibility and Upcoming Elections

May 7, 2015 – During the 2014 election cycle, the PASS Board established specific eligibility requirements for voting in the PASS elections. These requirements are designed to help de-duplicate member data for eligible voters before ballot notifications are sent. Specific mandatory fields have been added to the myProfile section of sqlpass.org to help us better serve the community.

To cast a ballot, members must complete all mandatory fields in their myPASS profile. PASS members who have not completed their profile will receive a reminder to update their myPASS profile to be eligible to vote. Your profile must be completed by 11:59 pm PDT June 1, 2015 to guarantee eligibility to cast ballots in the 2015 PASS elections.   

Don’t miss your chance to vote in the PASS elections! To confirm your eligibility, please log into your myPASS account to look for the follow eligibility stamp:


PASS is your organization. Thank you for helping to shape its future by participating in the elections process. 

–Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President

New #SQLPASS Virtual Chapter Webcasts

Cross-posted from Brent Ozar’s blog.

By Brent Ozar
Sept. 30 – Want to learn more about what it takes to run a PASS Virtual Chapter? Want to volunteer to get one up and running? Or maybe you want to up the game for your local user group and start doing webcasts of local speakers?

Jen Stirrup is running a free Wednesday webcast series to get you started. She’s the Director of PASS Virtual Chapters, and she’s on the PASS Board of Directors. Click on the titles you’d like to register for:

Oct 8 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Padawan, covering:

    • What is the difference between an organizer, panellist and a presenter? What can they do?
    • What’s the difference between Q&A and chat?
    • What do I do if attendees say that can’t hear or see?
    • What is the value of a tech check before we hold a VC, and what’s the best way to do it?
    • How do we record sessions and post them up to youTube? what is Go to Converter, anyway?
    • What’s the difference between GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting?
    • How can I tell if attendees are bored?
    • How can we use multiple screens?
    • And an open Q&A

Oct 15 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Jedi, covering:

    • How do we do polls?
    • How do we do surveys?
    • Plan your webinar like a pro!
    • Can you include video in your presentations?
    • What about a blended event, where you have more than one presenter?
    • How can you help a nervous, first time presenter?
    • And an open Q&A

Oct 22 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Management, covering:

    • Chapter Management console
    • Emailing your chapter
    • Updating the site
    • How do you get your sessions to appear on the PASS home page?
    • Using Time and Date announcer so attendees can check the timezone
    • Finalizing your session
    • And an open Q&A

Oct 29 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Soft Skills, covering:

    • Marketing your Virtual Chapter (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, reddit)
    • Recruiting and retaining speakers
    • Sponsorship
    • Blogger help
    • And an open Q&A

 

For more information, check out Jen’s blog and follow @JenStirrup on Twitter.

What's New with WIT

June 11, 2014 – Recently at SQLSaturday Silicon Valley, PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney shared what's new with Women in Technology (WIT), including the growing commitment of more organizations, academic institutions, and companies to engage women in technology roles, a topic PASS has been passionate about for over 10 years.

You can watch parts one, two, and three of the interview series with Denise.

Want to learn more? Log in to your myPASS account today and follow the prompts to join the PASS WIT Virtual Chapter.


FY2015 Goals for PASS Virtual Chapters

March 18, 2014 – Participating in PASS Virtual Chapters (VCs) – which deliver free online training from leading data experts – is one of the easiest ways you can keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date and get involved in the community.

Serving close to 25,000 data professionals from around the world, our interest-based VCs provide technical content and networking year-round through live and recorded webinars. Whether you are a DBA, developer, BI or BA professional or looking to learn in your local language, there is a VC for you. We also have VCs focused on professional development and Women in Technology topics.

As co-leader of the BI VC, I know firsthand how much work goes into setting up virtual learning sessions – our VC leaders spend countless hours bringing great training directly to your computer.

Keeping both our leaders and our community of active participants in mind, we’ve put together the following VC goals for fiscal year 2015 (FY2015) and are working out the associated budget to support them:

    • Increase overall VC meeting attendance by 20%
    • Increase VC meeting attendance by 25% for the LATAM region
    • Deliver 16,000 technical training hours to the PASS community
    • Establish satisfaction benchmark metrics for VCs and solicit feedback for improvement and growth
    • Increase VC sponsorships to provide additional learning opportunities for VC participants

As I dig into my first term on the PASS Board of Directors, I’m delighted to represent and help grow our VCs serving the expanding data community. Feel free to contact me at jen.stirrup@sqlpass.org with ideas on growing and supporting these valuable online user groups.
– Jen Strirrup
Virtual Chapter Director, PASS Board


 


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