Business Analytics

PASS Business Analytics Conference–Recap

PASSBAC NameTagThe very first PASS Business Analytics Conference (PASSBAC) has come to an end. And it was fantastic. Since you follow my blog with rapt joy, you know that I had the great honor of speaking at this shiny new event. While I have spoken many times to user groups and several SQL Saturdays, it was my first time speaking at an event of this caliber. While I was certainly nervous about presenting, I was even more excited. I LOVE presenting. And I feel comfortable in saying it is something I am pretty good at. While my co-presenter, Doug Lane (b|t), was very appreciative of my asking him to present with me, I must confess that his advice on writing abstracts was invaluable in our getting selected. I met Doug at a SQL Saturday in Chicago a few years ago. It was great to share this honor with a friend from my #sqlfamily. I do want to send special thanks for Joe D’Antoni (b|t) and Scott Stauffer (b|t) for their efforts in coming to my aid the night before the biggest presentation of my career.

Speaking wasn’t the only first for me at PASSBAC, nor was it the only thing I had the honor of sharing with a friend from my #sqlfamily. In 2011, I attended my very first PASS Summit. At that time, I took part in a program for first-time Summit attendees called First Timers. This featured having a Summit mentor as well as taking part in extra networking events. At one of these networking events, I met Angel Abundez (b|t). At PASSBAC, Angel and I both had the honor to be invited to sit at the Bloggers table to Live Blog the keynotes. On Day 1, I sat down next to him and we had a moment of, “Wow, we’ve come a long way in a few years.” You can read Angel’s Live Blogging here. To me, that transformation from First Timer to Bloggers table is more than just the fact that we are both seeing solid growth in our careers. It also speaks of how open and inviting the SQL community is. I often hear that people in other industries and even other groups within the technology sector are just in awe of what we have going on. PASS is an important part of that.

I have to say that I was not only honored that PASS asked me to participate in the Live Blogging of PASSBAC, I was nervous. I had never done that before and wasn’t really all that sure what it would entail. I ended up getting some great advice from John Sansom (b|t) and Jason Strate (b|t). John provided me with a blog post of his about Live Blogging that was really helpful. At the end of that post, John links to a Live Blog from the 2011 PASS Summit by Brent Ozar (b|t). I looked at that post and thought, “Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln! How can I even come close to matching that?” There are lots of pictures and great commentary. Even if I had convinced my wife to let me take her camera, I would be more likely to drop it on my foot than capture anything of value quickly enough to add it to a live blog post. Then I realized that there was no reason I had to try to match what Brent or any other person had done. I did see that Jason had kept it pretty simple in his Live Blog of the Day 3 keynote of PASS Summit 2011. I figured I would start simple. I set up the Live Blogging plugin for my WordPress blog and decided to try to keep my entries short enough to cross-post them on Twitter. It turns out that was a good choice as so many people told me how much they appreciated what I was doing. I was honestly blown away by the feedback I was getting for my efforts. I even noticed that the PASSBAC homepage was featuring my live blogs of the keynotes. Thanks so much to everyone who followed and expressed their appreciation in one way or another. You can read my Live Blogs from PASSBAC Day1 and Day2. On Day 2, I even got the timestamp working. Yay. As you can see, the keynotes were awesome, from my perspective.

My choice to cross-post to Twitter ended up being a great one from a networking standpoint. It turns out that only the @passbac account itself had more #passbac tweets than I did, according to, who provided Twitter analysis for the conference. In addition, the analysis performed by iTrendTV showed that I was in the Top 5 in both “Largest Audiences” and “Most Engaging Authors.”  Notice Angel in there with me and some fine company.

My point here is that we need to remember that the I in ROI means “investment.” That investment doesn’t always involve money. Sometimes it means we stray out of our comfort zone or take a risk by doing something new in a public setting. In my case, I was confident that live blogging was a great opportunity that I had to take. I looked at overcoming my trepidation as the investment toward the ROI of increased connections in the industry. I knew that doing a decent job with the live blogging had a good chance of leading to expanding the network of people I value so much.

I had a tremendous amount of fun Live Blogging. I hope I get invited to the Bloggers table for more events in the future.

On the morning of Day1, SQL Sentry hosted a breakfast and informal discussion on Business Analytics emceed by Kevin Kline (b|t). The panel was made up of the following great experts:

Chris Webb (b|t)
Craig Utley (b)
Jen Stirrup (b|t)
Paul Turley (b|t)
Stacia Misner (b|t)

It was great discussion that could have gone on a few more hours and I would have been happy to stay for it. Thanks much to SQL Sentry, Kevin and the great panelists.

I went to fantastic sessions by Jen Stirrup (b|t), Jason Thomas (b|t), Angel Abundez (b|t), Craig Utley (b), Ayad Shammout (b|t) and Denny Lee (b|t), and more. I spent a lot of time learning more about Excel features and geo-spatial topics like GeoFlow.

Overall, the event was just amazing. I am so glad I got to go. The fact that I got to participate in a meaningful way makes it even better. I really want to thank all the people in PASS HQ, Board Members, Sponsors, Program Committee and everyone else who worked so hard to make this event happen.

5 replies »

  1. Mark – thanks for the great post, and for your infectious enthusiasm! You are a driver in this community, and we really appreciate that. I look forward to catching up with you again soon.


    • Thanks so much, Mark. I really appreciate that. This community really rocks. It is pretty easy to be enthusiastic about it. If I can make it out to the Bay Area, I will definitely let you know. 🙂