Cross-posted from Dirty Reads
By Rod Colledge

The SQL Server Community, specifically PASS, has provided me with enormous opportunities for professional growth, and so I always look to give back in whatever way I can. In the last 5 years, my focus has been exclusively on Business Intelligence, so when I heard about the PASS Business Analytics Conference being held in April in Chicago, I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. I submitted an abstract and was selected to speak, so in April, I’ll be making the 18-hour trip to Chicago with one of my StrataDB colleagues, Mr PopBI, aka Peter O’Gorman.
 
What immediately struck me about the conference is that it uses the phrase “Business Analytics” instead of “Business Intelligence.” “Business Intelligence” is used almost universally these days as a blanket phrase for all sorts of things. So I did some research on the difference between the two terms. "Intelligence" is a synonym for “aptitude,” “clever,” and “brain power" – all of which are fairly generic terms that could really mean whatever you want them to mean. “Analytics,” on the other hand, is a synonym for “investigation,” “scrutiny,” and “breakdown,” which I believe to be much more of a descriptive term for the work we as BI professionals are engaged in.
 
Before you think I’ve set off on a self-indulgent grammar excursion, this is a really important distinction, because what we as BI professionals do, or what we should do, is provide business users with a platform for information discovery – Investigation, Scrutiny, and Breakdown. It’s really important to understand that the sole reason we exist as IT professionals is not just to make lots of money and drink beer, but to support the business users. At the end of the day, they’re the reason why we’re here, and if we forget that, they’ll forget about us. So with this in mind, my session, Self-Service Business Analytics in 2013, is about how we as IT professionals can assist the business using the Microsoft BI platform.

Including the term “Self-Service” in my title was always going to open me up to criticism from my colleagues. Take this blog post for example, Self-Service Business Intelligence: It’s Wrong, Bad and Shouldn’t be Anyone’s Goal. Wow, that’s a broad, sweeping statement! Read the post, however, and the core point is that the business cannot (effectively) perform BI without IT professionals, but the reverse is also true: IT professionals cannot perform BI without the business. This is something that Microsoft has long recognised. Effective BI systems are those that combine the traditional strengths of Corporate BI (Data Quality, Security, Governance, and Performance) with the flexibility and agility of Self-Service BI. Microsoft’s term for this is Managed Self-Service BI.
 
My session will explore the awesome benefits of Managed Self-Service BI – how we, as IT professionals, can work with the business to achieve truly meaningful business outcomes. It is, after all, the whole reason for our existence.

If you’re a BI professional or a business user with a keen interest in analytics, this is the conference to attend in 2013. I’m really pumped about this one, and I’d love to see you there – I might even shout you an (Australian) beer!