SQLSaturday Website Update

March 7, 2014  I wanted to thank everyone for all the great feedback we received on the PASS SQLSaturday goals. I know many of you are excited about the undertaking of the new SQLSaturday website.

There have been a few questions around open-sourcing the site that I’d like to address. Rebuilding the site  accessed by tens of thousands of SQL Server professionals a year – is a major IT project and needs to be undertaken in a controlled and concentrated environment. In concept, open-sourcing the site is an interesting idea, but in terms of execution, we’re simply not in a position to make that happen. The site will be created in the DNN environment in order to facilitate content management functionality for the 80+ volunteer organizers who put on events on a yearly basis.

We started the community feedback process back in the fall with roundtable discussions at PASS Summit and an open meeting with those who expressed interest in providing feedback. We are currently building out wireframes for the site and will share a prerecorded webinar in the next week or so for anyone interested in reviewing. In an effort to keep the feedback process as manageable as possible, we will set up a feedback site for a select group of representative SQLSaturday community individuals from around the world to help us shape this new and improved SQLSaturday website. If you are interested in putting your name forward to be part of this feedback group, please contact us via email with “SQLSat website feedback” in the subject line.
– Tim Ford
SQLSaturday Director, PASS Board


 

PASS Programs – FY2015 Portfolio Goals

February 18, 2014 – Behind PASS’s reputation for delivering incredible technical content stands dedicated Program Committee teams. PASS Programs encompasses PASS’s largest volunteer group – typically 60 or more team members involved in reviewing and selecting speakers and sessions for PASS Summit and the PASS Business Analytics  Conference, building guidelines and resources for creating top presentations, ensuring all PowerPoint slide decks meet the highest standards, and working to improve processes for developing and evaluating speakers and encouraging participation in all PASS speaking opportunities, including at local and Virtual Chapter meetings, SQLSaturday and SQLRally events, and 24 Hours of PASS.

PASS Programs are always in the spotlight, but especially so this time of year as we gear up for an exceptional lineup of speakers and sessions at the 2nd annual PASS BA Conference in May and launch the PASS Summit 2014 Call for Speakers this week. And we’re looking even farther ahead by putting forward the following goals for fiscal year 2015 (FY2015), which begins July 1, 2014:

    • Execute a robust and diverse educational program: Deliver 160,900+ technical training hours across PASS Summit 2014 and PASS BA Conference 2015, reduce by 20% the number of poorly rated sessions, and provide better attendee guidance through role- and skill-based learning tracks.
    • Improve Program metrics and data collection: Increase session evaluation submissions by 15%, and work on ways to improve session room allocations.
    • Innovate with technology: Enhance Orator functionality to improve Program processes and session scheduling, and scope out a centralized portal for global speaker and session information across PASS.
    • Grow global speaker pool: Enhance speaker resources and communication channels to involve and develop speakers in communities around the world, and improve speaker guidance by sharing focused feedback during call for speakers and through session evaluation results.
    • Improve and standardize Program processes and agreements: Blueprint the BA Conference Program process, attract more Program Committee volunteers, and engage volunteers in special projects for improving processes and results.

As I begin my term on PASS Board of Directors, I’m honored and humbled to lead the team responsible for organizing world-class educational programs that equip SQL Server, Business Intelligence, and Business Analytics professionals for today’s fast-changing world of data. Don’t hesitate to contact me at amy.lewis@sqlpass.org with other ideas for strengthening our content offerings and supporting and growing our awesome speaker pool.
– Amy Lewis
Program Director, PASS Board

Volunteers Portfolio: Goals for FY2015

February 17, 2014 – Volunteers have a hand in all aspects of the PASS community – setting up Chapter and Virtual Chapter meetings, organizing PASS SQLSaturday events, speaking at events, reviewing session abstracts for events, and so much more. PASS would not exist without our passionate, dedicated, and hardworking volunteers from around the globe.

To bring focus to the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions, we reinstated the Volunteers portfolio last year. I am proud to serve as director of this portfolio and would like to share the main goals we’ve put forward for the coming fiscal year, budget permitting, which begins July 1, 2014:

    • Streamline the volunteer channel: This effort, which began last year with the rollout of the myVolunteering section on myPASS, aims to facilitate volunteer recruitment and help grow leaders throughout the world. Targets for FY2015 are to enlist 100% of volunteers through myVolunteering and to connect 100 additional volunteers through the service, which lets members regularly know about volunteering opportunities in their selected interest areas.
    • Provide a rewarding experience for volunteers: Grow the Outstanding Volunteer of the Month program – which recognizes dedicated volunteering efforts – to an average of five submissions per month, including soliciting regular submissions from Chapter and VC leaders and SQLSaturday organizers.
    • Develop accountability and reward programs: Work with community-facing portfolios to track volunteer contributions across the PASS organization and enhance volunteer appreciation and non-monetary rewards.

I’ve had such valuable experiences serving as a PASS volunteer in all sorts of capacities, and I look forward to any ideas you have for involving more community members and celebrating their efforts – just email me at sri.sridharan@sqlpass.org. And don’t forget to fill out your myVolunteering preferences and to say thank you to your favorite, hardworking PASS volunteer by nominating them for Outstanding Volunteer of the Month.
– Sri Sridharan
Volunteers Director, PASS Board

PASS SQLSaturday Portfolio Goals FY2015

February 17, 2014 – Greetings to all our PASS SQLSaturday organizers, volunteers, attendees, and sponsors! I hope everyone is recharged and ready for great things in 2014. I know I’m energized by talking with so many of you in the past few months since I was elected to the PASS Board of Directors.

Although my term didn’t officially begin until January 1, I’ve been in meetings, crunching data, and reviewing history so I would be prepared to serve as SQLSaturday Director on the PASS Board for the next two years. All this homework has proved invaluable for the beginning of budget planning and our first Board meeting of the year last month.

The Board still needs to work through the budgeting process before anything is 100% finalized, but I wanted to share the key SQLSaturday portfolio goals we’ve put forward for fiscal year 2015 (FY2015), which begins July 1, 2014:

    • Grow SQLSaturday reach and service to local data communities: We’re on target this fiscal year (2014) to see over 25,000 SQLSaturday registrations across over 85 events worldwide. Our goal for FY2015 is to increase those numbers to over 27,000 registrations across 90 SQLSaturday events, including at least three additional events in Latin America.
    • Redesign SQLSaturday website: This effort, probably the largest technology expenditure for PASS in the next year, is already underway and will be extensive, including functionality to facilitate events in languages other than English.
    • Adapt the SQLSaturday model for business analytics-focused events: We’re moving forward with our first Business Analytics Edition of SQLSaturday in Dallas this spring, ahead of the PASS Business Analytics Conference in May. And we look to facilitate four grassroots events at the local level in FY2014 to provide BA-focused content, grow speakers, and serve members.
    • Increase sustainability: Reduce event and materials cost through branding reuse and economies of scale where appropriate.

After years of volunteering for, speaking at, attending, and organizing SQLSaturday events, I’m looking forward to being your voice on the PASS Board. If you have ideas or feedback, please reach out to me at tim.ford@sqlpass.org.

See you at a SQLSaturday soon!
– Tim Ford
SQLSaturday Director, PASS Board

PASS Goals for FY2015

February 4, 2014 – Over the past few weeks, the PASS Board of Directors has been working to establish overall PASS and portfolio-specific goals for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, 2014. These goals will help shape both the direction and budget for PASS for the upcoming year. Here’s where we will be focusing our efforts and resources in support of the vibrant and growing PASS community.

Overall PASS Goals

    • Establish PASS as the community leader in Microsoft data technologies.
    • Deepen our reach throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) by increasing local and virtual programs to serve community members.
    • Establish a foundation for PASS in Latin America (LATAM), working with local leaders to provide programs that serve Spanish and Portuguese-speaking community members.

Board Goals
To hold the Board of Directors accountable and help us achieve the aims we set as a group, we have also established some Board-specific goals:

    • Global Growth: Refine and determine a scalable, global paid event model.
    • Elections: Establish a process to ensure each eligible voter may cast no more than one ballot in a PASS election.
    • Performance Management: Design and implement a performance-management program across portfolios and PASS Headquarters to provide visibility, transparency, and accountability.
    • Technology Innovation: Enhance our information technology strategy, operational processes, and organizational alignment.

Each portfolio team has established its own goals based on these overall objectives. Over the next two weeks, each PASS Director will blog about their portfolio’s goals. We look forward to your feedback and working together to continue to achieve great things for the PASS community.
– Thomas LaRock,
PASS President

Welcoming Global Alliance Partner Dell Software

February 4, 2014 – PASS is thrilled to welcome Dell Software as a Platinum Level Global Alliance Partner, transitioning the company’s already strong individual event and program sponsorships into a comprehensive, strategic relationship that supports the worldwide PASS community year-round.

As a Platinum Level Global Alliance Partner, Dell Software will be a Platinum sponsor of both the PASS Business Analytics Conference and PASS Summit and will be supporting PASS Virtual Chapters, 24 Hours of PASS virtual events, PASS SQLSaturday events, and the entire PASS community through Connector sponsorships, web advertising, and more.

“We are very excited to be partnering with PASS as a Global Platinum Partner,” said Matt Wolken, vice president and general manager, Information Management, Dell Software. “With data growth and complexity driving the need for better management of leading databases, SQL Server continues to play a critical role in the IT management ecosystem. That’s why Dell Software remains focused on providing solutions for SQL Server that help organizations worldwide solve business-critical challenges, and why we are committed to remaining a leader now and well into the future. Our support for the PASS organization and the SQL Server community as a whole provides clear proof of that commitment.” 

PASS sponsors are a vital part of the community, supporting the organization’s many training and networking opportunities, including free learning events. Through the Global Alliance Program, PASS looks forward to bringing many new opportunities and added value to our community and to our partners. For information about becoming a PASS Global Alliance Partner, please contact Craig Ellis.

Best of PASS Summit 2013

February 3, 2014  As the Program Committee prepares to open the PASS Summit 2014 call for speakers later this month, we’re excited to recognize the Top 10 sessions from PASS Summit 2013:


The Top 10 list is based on average attendee evaluations from sessions that had a minimum of 50 attendees and evaluations from at least 20 or 20% of those attendees (whichever is greater).

Recordings of these “best of” sessions are now available to all PASS members – just log in here to start watching. You can also view other selected PASS Summit 2013 sessions free on PASStv and own the entire set of PASS Summit 2013 session recordings.

And don’t forget to register by March 7 to save on this year’s event, Nov. 4-7, in Seattle.

PASS Board Approves Bylaw Amendments, Thanks CA for Support and Guidance

January 27, 2014 – At its in-person meeting in Seattle last week, the PASS Board of Directors approved amendments to the PASS Bylaws as Founding Partner CA relinquishes its two seats on the PASS Board. The bylaw changes amend Section VI.2., Composition and Qualifications, to reduce the number of both voting Directors and vendor-appointed Directors and to remove CA from appointing vendor-appointed seats:


With CA’s resignation from the Board – official as of January 31 – PASS will say goodbye to its two longest serving Board members, Rick Bolesta and Neil Buchwalter. Rick joined the PASS Board as a CA Founding Partner representative in Year 2 (2000), and Neil joined him on the Board a year later.

Rick and Neil’s longevity with the Board has been invaluable to PASS. They have played a huge role in guiding the work of the Board, especially in areas of governance, leadership development, and strategic direction of the organization. 

“One of my big takeaways from both these gentlemen is their ability to sit at the table during a Board meeting and always wear their PASS hat,” noted PASS President Thomas LaRock. “Over the years, they have consistently put the community first.”

On behalf of the community and the PASS Board and PASS HQ, we thank CA for its support and for allowing Rick and Neil to share their guidance and wisdom with us for so many years – they will be greatly missed.

 
You can read more about CA’s relationship with PASS in Andy Warren’s interview with Rick Bolesta from PASS Summit 2013.

Regional Mentor Welcomes, Farewells

January 21, 2014 – PASS Regional Mentors are all about helping local Chapter Leaders and event organizers on their way to success. From supporting new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow your user group to helping you find speakers, sponsors, and even host a SQLSaturday event in your city, these dedicated volunteers are helping build a stronger data community around the world.

PASS is excited to introduce new and returning RMs for many of our regions, and please join us in extending a heartfelt thanks and best wishes to our outgoing RMs as they continue to serve the PASS community.

    • LATAM: PASS is welcoming a new RM team for the LATAM region this year, and we thank outgoing RMs Carlos Farias, Jesus Gil, John Bulla, and Mary Arcia – as well as departing Brazil RM Luciano Moreira – for all their efforts in building the foundation for LATAM PASS.
    • Middle East/Africa: Nabeel Derhem (blog | @NabeelDerhem) is partnering with Jody Roberts as RM for the Middle East/Africa region as Gareth Swanepoel moves from MEA to the US-Southeast.
    • UK: Jonathan Allen is leaving as UK RM, with Neil Hambly (blog | @Neil_Hambly) joining RM Mark Broadbent to support the region.
    • US - North Central: John Morehouse (blog | @SqlrUs) is teaming up with existing North Central RM Ted Krueger in place of outgoing RM Jason Strate.
    • US - Northeast: Mike Hillwig (blog | @mikehillwig) is joining Jack Corbett as RM for the US-Northeast as Steve Hughes finishes his tenure.
    • US - Southeast: As noted earlier, Gareth Swanepoel (blog | @garethswan) is moving from the MEA region to join Southeast RMs Kendal Van Dyke and Tim Radney in place of Jose Chinchilla, who is now part of the new LATAM RM team.

Thanks again to our outgoing mentors for all their contributions, and good luck to our 2014 RM teams as they support the growing PASS communities in their regions. If you’re interested in becoming a PASS RM and would like to learn more about this valuable role and future opportunities, please contact Karla Landrum.



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!