My Session Picks for the PASS BA Conference

By Excel MVP Henk Vlootman

As I look over the packed PASS Business Analytics Conference program, I wish I could clone myself several times over so I could attend more sessions!

With less than a month until we meet in San Jose, I have been reviewing the agenda and planning my schedule. It has been almost impossible to choose – so many great analytics speakers and topics. In the Thursday 4:00pm slot alone, there are three sessions I would love to attend. But I have made my selections, which you can see below, and you can build your own customized itinerary by logging into the handy Schedule Builder.

I can’t wait to see everyone there. If you haven’t registered yet, sign up soon – and save $150 by using discount code BABT9G.

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From the BA/BI Blogosphere: Catch Up in 10 Minutes

Have 10 minutes? Take a reading break and catch up with these blog posts from around the world of analytics and business intelligence, including some free, on-demand webinars and podcasts for a great lunch-and-learn with your team:

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Going to the PASS Business Analytics Conference

By John Welch
(Cross-posted from BI Thoughts and Theories)

I found out recently that I’ll be able to attend the PASS Business Analytics Conference this year, which I’m pretty excited about. Also, I’m not presenting at this conference, so I will actually get to relax and enjoy the sessions by other speakers. If you haven’t registered yet, now’s a good time*.

There’s a lot of great content at this conference, and it’s a bit challenging in some time slots to decide on exactly what I want to see most. However, there are three sessions that I will definitely be attending:

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PASS Business Analytics Conference

By Zack Barresse
(Cross-posted from Excel & Access Experts blog)

So, what is it?
The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an independent, non-profit organization, which is free to register with, committed to helping deliver high quality content and professional development. One of the great features of this conference is what you are paying for. The registration fee actually stays in the community and supports business analytics programs and events.

They are putting on a BA/BI conference in San Jose, CA, this year on May 7-9, 2014. Last year’s conference was a big hit, with some well-known names in attendance, including Bob Phillips, Rob Collie, Chris Webb, and many, many more. A lot of them are reprising their speaking roles again this year as well. In fact, Rob Collie is “doubling down,” as he puts it, delivering two speaking sessions. (May even do a third!)

Even though the organization is SQL-based, there are many things about this conference geared towards the Excel pro. With Microsoft’s new BI offerings in Excel (i.e. Power Pivot, Power Query, etc.), business intelligence has come full force into the Excel world.

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Don't Miss a Thing at the BA Conference – Get the Session Recordings

Can’t possibly attend all the sessions on your PASS Business Analytics Conference must-see list? You can catch those you miss and relive your favorites by ordering the session recordings at the special pre-event attendee rate of $295*.

Including over 70 breakout sessions across five comprehensive topic tracks – plus the Microsoft and David McCandless keynotes – the session recordings come on a convenient USB flash drive. Not only are the recordings a valuable resource as you continue your training throughout the year, but they are a great way to share the conference with your teammates.

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From the BA/BI Blogosphere: Spring Refresh

Spring has finally sprung! Celebrate the new season and warm up your analytics learning with these fresh posts from top BA/BI community bloggers.

Who Are the Power Users?

By Chris Webb
Director, Crossjoin Consulting Limited

Nowadays, some people would have you think that the business intelligence world (BI) is divided between the dinosaurs in the IT department on one hand and the hot-shot power users from the business side on the other. The distinction between these groups is supposedly mirrored by the types of software they use: The IT guys use old, expensive, slow, ugly, “corporate” BI tools, while the power users are agile and responsive and create beautiful data visualisations with the fancy new breed of self-service BI tools.

This separation is convenient from a marketing point of view because it draws a line between the past, with all its harsh realities, failures and compromises, and a new generation of software, which like every new generation of software will magically solve all your problems and allow you to be hundreds of times more productive. The problem is I don't believe any of this stands up to scrutiny.

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Occupy BACON: Let’s Do This. (Sessions & Discount)

By Rob Collie
(Cross-posted from PowerPivotPro)

Year One Was Great, So I’m Speaking Again – San Jose CA, May 7-9
I really enjoyed the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference, aka PASS BACON, last year. Before that, I’d never been to a conference that was even remotely aimed at “my kind of people.” That all changed for me last year. I think we have found our home.

THIS is the kind of conference we need – one that’s accessible without heavy technology expertise. One where Business Impact take center stage, and the only prerequisite is that you enjoy working with data. (And it helps if you don’t flinch at the word “Microsoft.”)

Which suits us Excel folks to a tee, doesn’t it? They might as well put us on the front page. But an explicit mention of Excel would scare off those other people – the non-Excel people (that we outnumber 100 to 1). Honestly, I think we should just take this thing over. You know, like… Occupy BACON. (Brief pause while I replace the previously-bland title of this post with precisely that.)

Putting my time where my mouth is, this year I am “doubling down” and presenting two sessions– a full-day “pre-con” and a “regular” session – see below for details. AND I’m in discussions about presenting a third session as well, stay tuned on that.

Last Year’s Referral Champion Wants to Repeat!
A little bird told us that last year, more people signed up for PASS BACON using the PowerPivotPro discount code than any other discount code.

Pretty cool, eh? Anyway, there’s a discount code again this year, but I’ve been slow to share it. Let’s pretend we did that to give all those “non-Excel” websites a head start, given that whole “100 to 1 outnumber” thing (in reality I have just been swamped). All righty then, here’s the code:

$150 Off When You Register With This Code: BASB5O

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From the BA/BI Blogosphere: March 7 Update

It's been a busy week! Catch your breath and catch up on what's happening in the business analytics and business intelligence world with top community bloggers:


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BI and Analytics in 2014

By Carlos Bossy
(cross-posted from Carlos Bossy's Blog)

It’s become a tradition at the end of the year for bloggers and industry pundits to make predictions about their fields of interest, and business intelligence is not spared this annual ritual. While I’ve avoided (or forgotten about) making my own predictions, it seems that the future always comes up when I’m speaking at an event. People want to know what’s coming so they can prepare.

Four Areas to Explore
With the PASS BA Conference coming up in May in San Jose, CA, the question of future direction will certainly come up again. The field of business intelligence is undergoing a shift in how it’s delivered to users and the way it’s developed. After a period of having established common data architectures and practices, including Star Schema models, ETL processes, and cubes for what-if analysis, we are seeing new technologies driving us in different directions.

In my opinion, BI architects and practitioners should start thinking about the following.

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