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Category: Virtual Chapters

Contest: Win the BA Conference Session Recordings!

Watch Twitter (#passbac) and Facebook Wednesday this week through Monday next week for a chance to win one of 10 PASS Business Analytics Conference session recordings, featuring 60+ conference sessions and the Microsoft keynote.

We’ll be asking questions from the following PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter webinars (Hint: check out the archives to refresh your memory or catch up if you missed them). We’ll be drawing daily from all the correct answers. Good luck!

A Case for Business Analytics Learning – Mark Tabladillo

What’s New for BI in Excel 2013? – Chris Webb

A Big Data Primer – Stacia Misner

Terms and Conditions: 
No refunds will be issued for conference session recordings already purchased by competition winners.

Business Analytics? There’s a Virtual Chapter for That

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

What’s on My BA Conference List?

Cross-posted from Amy Lewis' blog
By Amy Lewis

With April just around the corner, I’m growing more excited about the PASS Business Analytics (BA) Conference by the day! As a business intelligence professional and confessed data geek, I feel this event has been tailor-made for me. Not only am I looking forward to sessions that will help me find the best approaches to information delivery, but I’m also focused on how to gain more insight from the vast amounts of data floating around my company and available through other channels.

I’ve been involved in the BI community for many years, both as a BI professional and as a leader of the PASS Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter. I’ve been “deep in the weeds” with Integration Services, Analysis Services, and Reporting Services. And now with mobile technology exploding and Big Data getting ever bigger, I have even more “to-learns” to help my company get the most from its data.

So as I plan my schedule, I’m searching the lineup of 60+ amazing sessions looking for those geared toward BI pros looking to gain more insight from Big Data as well as those that can show me how to visually present and consume all this data at my fingertips (on my new Windows Phone :). Here are some sessions on my list:

I’ll be using the conference Schedule Builder to create my personal itinerary and will share it on my blog soon. And because I’m sure I won’t be able to fit in all the great sessions I want to see, I’ll be getting the session recordings to catch those that I miss, review my favorites, and share the event with my team members.

As an extra bonus, I’m staying in Chicago for SQLSaturday #211 the day after the BA Conference. With 40 additional top-notch sessions to choose from, I’ll get even more valuable training – for free! (Note: There is a $10 lunch fee.)

If that wasn’t enough to look forward to, the trip is also a chance for this Midwest girl to “come home” and take a quick side trip to my alma mater, Purdue University, only 2 hours from Chicago. Boiler up!

Presenting at PASS Business Analytics Conference Chicago, IL, April 10-12

Cross-posted from MarkTab Data Mining
By Mark Tabladillo

I will be presenting a one-day pre-conference and a regular breakout session at the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference April 10-12 in Chicago, IL. This large conference requires paid registration. This post has details about the one-day pre-conference on April 10 and the regular conference session. Also, I provide a promotional code for a US$200 registration discount. However, first I will provide a general case for business analytics learning.

Motivation
This term “business analytics” is increasingly being used to emphasize the need for scientific modeling and differentiate with the more common (but still important term) “business intelligence.” I delivered the inaugural session for the PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter (online) with a presentation titled “A Case for Business Analytics Learning.” Thoughts I have in that slide deck support reasons why this conference contributes to your own and your organization’s learning about scientific modeling and analytics.

Pre-Conference Session: A Best Practices Cookbook for Data Mining
I am presenting this one-day pre-conference on April 10 with Artus Krohn-Grimberghe, who is a data mining consultant and faculty member living in Germany. Here is the abstract:

Data mining increasingly fascinates business people and information technology professionals alike, with the promise of finding meaningful patterns, relationships, and opportunities in our continuously growing volumes of data. There are tried and tested best practices you can follow to begin and improve your data mining efforts. You’re invited to a full-day data mining seminar with Mark Tabladillo and Artus Krohn-Grimberghe to see these best practices in action. Aimed at the beginning to intermediate data scientist, this pre-conference workshop builds on Mark and Artus’ experience in teaching university students and advising industry clients. Following a cookbook theme for their presentation, they will be explaining and demonstrating their best practices framework by cooking through a data science example from beginning to end, covering these topics:

  • How to avoid mythology while establishing a data science investigation
  • How to apply the best artistry in data cleansing and transformation (shaping)
  • How to apply best practices for machine learning algorithms
  • How to communicate your data mining story within and beyond your organization

The presenters have designed specific breaks during the workshop where you can discuss and interact with them and other attendees. Note that these best practices transcend Microsoft SQL Server Data Mining, applying equally to other software, such as Matlab, Octave, R, SAS, SPSS, and Weka. After this workshop, you and your data science team will have the knowledge and best practices to approach small to large data mining challenges with confidence.

Regular Breakout Session: Data Analysis with R and Julia
R is a free, open-source environment for statistical analysis and graphing. In its almost 20 years of existence, R has remained popular in both academic and business environments. The newer Julia is a high-level, high-performance dynamic programming language for technical computing, with syntax that is familiar to users of other technical computing environments. This session outlines functional and performance differences between these two software packages. You’ll see demonstrations of best tips for integrating this software with Windows and walk away with guidelines for working with commercial software.

Promotional Discount
The code BAC698MVP will enable you to receive a US$200 discount from the conference registration fee (attendees who’ve already registered cannot retroactively use the discount code). You can find more information about this conference at http://passbaconference.com/ and register here.

From DBA to Data Analyst: My Story

Cross-posted from the PASS Blog
By Denise McInerney

There is a lot changing in the data professional’s world these days. More data is being produced and stored. More enterprises are trying to use that data to improve their products and services and understand their customers better. More data platforms and tools seem to be crowding the market. For a traditional DBA, this can be a confusing and even unsettling time. It’s also a time that offers great opportunity for career growth. I speak from personal experience.

We sometimes talk about the “accidental DBA” – the person who finds herself suddenly responsible for managing the database because she has some other technical skills. Although it was not accidental, six months ago I was unexpectedly offered a chance to transition out of my DBA role and become a data analyst. I have since come to view this offer as a gift, though at the time I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.

Throughout my DBA career, I’ve received tremendous support from my PASS friends and colleagues, and they were the first ones I turned to for counsel about this new situation. Everyone was encouraging, and I received two pieces of valuable advice: First, leverage what I already know about data, and second, work to understand the business’ needs.

Harnessing the power of data to solve business problems is really the heart of the job. The challenge is figuring out how to do that. PASS had been the source of much of my technical training as a DBA, so I naturally started there to begin my business intelligence education. Once again, Virtual Chapter webinars, local chapter meetings, and SQLSaturdays have been invaluable.

I work in a large company where we are fortunate to have some very talented data scientists and analysts. These colleagues have been generous with their time and advice. I also took a statistics class through Coursera, where I got a refresher in statistics and an introduction to the R programming language.

And that’s not the end of the free resources available to someone wanting to acquire new skills. There are many knowledgeable business intelligence and analytics professionals who teach through their blogs. Every day, I can learn something new from one of these experts.

Sometimes we plan our next career move, and sometimes it just happens. Either way, a database professional who follows industry developments and acquires new skills will be better prepared when change comes. Take the opportunity to learn something about the changing data landscape by attending an upcoming Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, or Big Data Virtual Chapter meeting. And if you are moving into this new world of data, consider attending the PASS Business Analytics Conference in April where you can meet and learn from those who are already on that road.

It’s been said that “the only thing constant is change.” That’s never been truer for the data professional than it is today. But if you are someone who loves data and grasps its potential, you are in the right place at the right time.
 

The Future of PASS

Cross-posted from the PASS Blog
By Adam Jorgensen

PASS just wrapped up its first Board meeting of the year and, as the minutes* will show, we passionately discussed the future of PASS. We must continue to service and grow our existing community but also recognize the need to meet the changing demands of insight-driven organizations. Our challenges are similar to those your firm or customers are experiencing. PASS needs more data, better ways to analyze it, and a renewed focus on solving business questions instead of focusing directly on tools.

Chris Webb’s recent editorial  touched on this need for change. I agree with Chris’ position that organizations are driving toward more and more analytic insight. This insight goes beyond system performance, beyond report speed, and even what kind of charts or graphs to use. Today’s companies must explore their data in new ways, use more of it to model better decisions, and do it faster and more nimbly than ever before. They don’t care how it happens so it’s up to us to figure it out. What an exciting opportunity for all of us to tackle this challenge together.

I feel blessed to work in an industry with so many strong players and vendor solutions that embrace the Microsoft Data Platform—giving us a strong lineage for the types of self-service solutions our companies and clients are looking for. The upcoming Business Analytics Conference focuses on these types of solutions. We’ve got sessions for the power analyst, BI practitioner, Excel guru, data scientist and anyone who is involved in solving these types of challenges for their executives. I know Chris said he is coming to the conference, and I’m looking forward to seeing him there. Those of us in the business intelligence field have long wished for this type of knowledge sharing to help bridge the gap between building these solutions and achieving viral adoption— with the goal of having our organizations use these analytic-based solutions to their fullest potential.

My challenge to you: explore the tools in this new area. We’ve got our Big Data and Business Analytics Virtual Chapters set up to start the transition and a top notch line of speakers for this inaugural event! I have carefully reviewed the program for the Business Analytics Conference and am very excited. It’s been a long time since we had more than a new cool feature to be excited about in the data platform space. These new tools, techniques and cross platform solutions are the kind of things a database person’s dreams are made of! I can’t wait to see you there. Stay up to date on the latest by following @sqlpass and @passbac.

* Board meeting minutes will be available at the end of February.

 

  
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