Tag: Professional Development

Anyone Can SQL

I love the SQL Community. Plain and simple. I will extend that to the overall Microsoft Data community as well. We are a hugely supportive bunch. That fact that many of us refer to it as #SQLFamily is not an accident. There are so many ways to reach out for and provide help. A huge number of folks in this community blog and present and offer help on Twitter, StackOverflow, MSDN, etc. It is truly astounding to me the depth of help you can get from this community.

I get a lot of joy out of seeing people welcomed into the SQL Community. You want to learn SQL? Come join us. We’ll help. I love encouraging people to get involved. I often tell folks just starting out about how welcoming and supportive this community is. Sometimes they get involved and encourage others to do the same. Typically, it works out wonderfully for everyone.

Courtesy of ktylerconk on FlickrHowever, recently, I was told of a pretty terrible experience that happened at a SQL-related event. People with certain backgrounds were treated with derision and scorn. They were laughed at. They were told they would not be taken seriously in this community because of their extensive experience with database technologies other than SQL Server. This is the exact opposite of what this community stands for.

In Pixar’s Ratatouille, August Gusteau is a famous chef. He writes books, does interviews, etc. One thing he is famous for is his closely held belief that “Anyone can cook.” A key antagonist, and infamous food critic, Anton Ego, doesn’t agree with Gusteau.

Note: There will be some spoilers for the movie coming shortly. If you haven’t seen it, fix it. It is another fine example of Pixar’s spectacular ability to craft stories and characters that resonate. It’s charming.

Anton Ego prides himself on his ability to eviscerate chefs and restaurants with his scathing reviews. He raises himself up by tearing others down. In this sense, the name of the character is spot on.

It isn’t until near the end of the film, when he enjoys an amazing meal that takes him back to his childhood, a dish prepared by a chef who is a rat, that he comes to understand what Gusteau was talking about.

In his review, Ego writes, “The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: ‘Anyone can cook.’ But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France.”

My goal with this post is not to rant or to point fingers or to vent my or anyone else’s anger or disappointment over this situation. Rather, it is to remind all of us that EVERYONE is born knowing NOTHING about databases in general and SQL Server in particular. We all come from somewhere. I started with Access. I know many people who did. Some people started with FoxPro. Others with Sybase. Others with DB2, or Oracle, or FileMaker. The list goes on and on. The fact that we have such varying experiences helps to make the community rich and varied. Like Ego came to learn, we will not raise ourselves up by tearing others down.

The onus is upon us, in my opinion, to ensure that we can live up to the promise of this outstanding community and treat people who want to learn with respect and encouragement. The onus is upon us to apply Gusteau’s most cherished belief to our community as well: Anyone can SQL.

Achievement Unlocked: Microsoft Employee

After almost 9 years of consulting around SQL Server and other Microsoft Data Platform technologies, I have joined Microsoft. Today was my first day as a Cloud Solution Architect – Data Platform. Basically, I will be helping Microsoft customers by designing data solutions using Azure (both pure cloud and hybrid). My role is in Minneapolis, so I won’t be moving. There will be a little bit of travel here and there as I have onsite meetings with customers.

I will need to learn a LOT more about Azure than I currently know. That is a large part of what made this opportunity so attractive. My content here will start having more of an Azure bent to it as I dig deeper into it. There will still be some Power BI here and there as well.

I am incredibly excited about this new direction. Microsoft has really been doing such exciting work and I am proud that I will get to be a part of it.

Power Query Free Training Webinar Follow-Up Questions

On April 7th, I gave my Power Query: Data Chemistry for the Masses presentation as part of Pragmatic Works Free Training on the T’s series. You can find the recording of that webinar here. I want to take a moment to thank the folks at Pragmatic Works for organizing and hosting this series that is such a great asset to the community.

At the end of the session, there were more questions than we had time to handle. So, they emailed me the questions in order for me to answer them in a post like this. Behold!

What is the maximum number of rows allowed in an Excel worksheet?

This question was likely in response to my recommendation of loading Power Query results to the Excel Data Model (Power Pivot) instead of to a worksheet. According to this info from Microsoft, the maximum row count in a worksheet is 1,048,576.

When combining files in a folder can the workbook have multiple tabs?

As far as combining files using the From Folder source, I have only succeeded with text files. However, there is a post here on the Dutch Data Dude blog that explains how to combine that source with a little custom M to make this happen.

When passing a parameter to an M function, can you select from a pick list of choices?

This question was in response to my converting a power query on Nobel Prize Laureates into a function that prompts for a prize category and then returns the Laureates for that category. Typically, instead of users interacting directly with the function, the parameter is passed to the function via a custom column. There is great post here on the Data Chix blog on how to do this.

Could we get a copy of the file being used in the demo?

You can get all of the materials for the presentation, including the files used, on the page for that presentation on this very blog.

Is the option to load to data model available for Excel 2010 or later versions?

I just learned over the weekend at SQL Saturday Madison that Excel 2010 does NOT have the option to load directly to the Data Model. Bummer. So, if you are using Excel 2010, you will need to load to a worksheet and then import to Power Pivot from that worksheet.

How do you know a web page is in JSON?

Well, web pages are not really in JSON. JSON is actually a “lightweight document interchange format.” I think of it more like a simpler XML. This question comes from my use of the Nobel Prize API to download Laureate data in the JSON format as part of this presentation. This is also detailed here as part of my Power Query Decathlon – Beginner blog series. The URL for consuming the API using JSON is http://api.nobelprize.org/v1/laureate.json. You can also do it as a CSV using http://api.nobelprize.org/v1/laureate.csv which will actively download a CSV file with all of the same data.

What do the different separators mean? [] i guess means column, but what is {} for?

I assume this question is related to the appearance of [] and {} in M query syntax. You can read about these in the Query Formula Language Specification document. This is a large resource and not recommended for “light” reading. 🙂 According to the specification, “We can use the lookup operator ([]) to access the fields of a record by name.” Also, the brackets [] can be used for referring to Records by surrounding the elements within the Record. the {} curly braces are used to referring to a List. A great, and easy to follow, resource is Chris Webb’s great book Power Query for Power BI and Excel. I am still very much a student of M, so I will not go much deeper into this at the moment.

Any plan from MS to add the ability to export the resulting data to a place other than XL, Data Model, eg text file, db?

I would LOVE the ability to use Power Query to load data into a database or a file, etc. Note that Power Query is used outside of Excel for loading data in the new Power BI preview as well as the Power BI Designer, which is also currently in preview. I have yet to see public information regarding any detailed plans for using Power Query to load to a larger number of targets. However, given the investment Microsoft is making in Power Query, it seems likely to me that we will see it popping up in more places in the future.

Could we use an Itunes folder as a source and consolidate music metadata?


Here is the M code for a query I used to do just that:

    Source = Folder.Files("C:\Users\Mark\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music"),
    #"Removed Other Columns" = Table.SelectColumns(Source,{"Name", "Folder Path"}),
    #"Replaced Value" = Table.ReplaceValue(#"Removed Other Columns","C:\Users\Mark\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music\","",Replacer.ReplaceText,{"Folder Path"}),
    #"Split Column by Delimiter" = Table.SplitColumn(#"Replaced Value","Folder Path",Splitter.SplitTextByEachDelimiter({"\"}, null, false),{"Folder Path.1", "Folder Path.2"}),
    #"Changed Type" = Table.TransformColumnTypes(#"Split Column by Delimiter",{{"Folder Path.1", type text}, {"Folder Path.2", type text}}),
    #"Replaced Value1" = Table.ReplaceValue(#"Changed Type","\","",Replacer.ReplaceText,{"Folder Path.2"}),
    #"Split Column by Position" = Table.SplitColumn(#"Replaced Value1","Name",Splitter.SplitTextByPositions({0, 2}, false),{"Name.1", "Name.2"}),
    #"Changed Type1" = Table.TransformColumnTypes(#"Split Column by Position",{{"Name.1", Int64.Type}, {"Name.2", type text}}),
    #"Split Column by Delimiter1" = Table.SplitColumn(#"Changed Type1","Name.2",Splitter.SplitTextByEachDelimiter({"."}, null, false),{"Name.2.1", "Name.2.2"}),
    #"Changed Type2" = Table.TransformColumnTypes(#"Split Column by Delimiter1",{{"Name.2.1", type text}, {"Name.2.2", type text}}),
    #"Renamed Columns" = Table.RenameColumns(#"Changed Type2",{{"Name.1", "Track"}, {"Name.2.1", "Song"}, {"Name.2.2", "File Type"}, {"Folder Path.1", "Artist"}, {"Folder Path.2", "Album"}})
    #"Renamed Columns"

In the Code above, I highlighted the path to my Itunes folder. Just replace that with yours and past into a blank Power Query window. Here is the query once you have done so.


There is more data in the Itunes Music Library.xml file, but I haven’t figured out how to use it effectively yet.

Alright. That wraps up the questions. Thanks to all who tuned in to the webinar and provided such great questions.

2015 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for SQL Server


I am thrilled to announce that Microsoft has once again honored me with the MVP Award for SQL Server. Last year was my first award and I have to say that I was blown away by the brilliance and altruism of so many members of the MVP community. I attended my first Global MVP Summit this past November and the experience was even more amazing than I expected. I am so proud to be counted in this fine group of professionals.

Wow. Between starting a new job on Monday and getting renewed as an MVP on Wednesday, this is turning out to be quite the week.

New Adventures

I am excited to announce that, as of Monday, March 31st, I moving over to Tail Wind Technologies as a Business Intelligence Consultant. My eight years at Digineer have been a lot of fun. I learned a tremendous amount from my time here and will miss the fantastic people I have had the pleasure to work with.

My new role at Tail Wind will involve training up as a full on Data Architect. I will have a terrific mentor to work with and learn from. I had mentorship early in my career but have largely been driving my own development for several years. It will be great to get some more direct help on that front.

In addition to my consulting role at Tail Wind, I will be spinning up my own training company, focused largely around Excel BI/Power BI (at least to start with). Look for more info on that in the coming months.

These particular winds of change are fantastic for me. I owe a debt of gratitude to Digineer for helping me become the consultant I am today.

My Remaining 2014 Presentation Schedule

Greetings. Since I do a fair amount of presenting, I like to keep people up to date on when and where I will present. Below are the presentations I have left in 2014.

SQL Saturday Winnipeg – November 22

In addition to serving on the committee that is organizing Winnipeg’s first SQL Saturday, I will be giving two presentations:

Analysis Services Terms and Concepts for the DBA

MDX Trek: First Contact

Minnesota BI User Group – December 2

I will be presenting a Case Study along with someone I worked with at a client. This is a make-up for September when a back spasm prevented me from delivering this presentation.

Case Study: Monitoring SSAS Usage with Extended Events

How do you measure the success of a Self Service Business Intelligence initiative? While the answer to that question has several components, a vital one is Adoption. Are people using the assets created for that initiative? Since Business Intelligence is using data to make better decisions, why not use data to help answer this question? At Capella University, we did just that.

This case study will describe how we used Analysis Services Extended Events to track the usage of Tabular Models that Capella built for Self Service BI users. We will demonstrate the following:

The business case for capturing asset usage

The particular goals Capella had in this case

How easy it is to get started with SSAS Extended Events (far easier than it looks)

The end-to-end solution created: from the event trace itself thru to the Power Pivot model created for analysis

Lessons learned (some learned the hard way)

We hope you will come away from this presentation with less trepidation around SSAS Extended Events as well as a foundation you can use for your own solution.

Minnesota SQL Server User Group (PASSMN) December Meeting – December 16

I will be participating in an Improv-style group presentation based on the format of the TV Show Whose Line is it Anyway? with other speakers from the Twin Cities.


Pragmatic Works Free Training Series – December 18


Analysis Services Terms and Concepts for the DBA

This is a make-up for September when a back spasm prevented me from delivering this presentation.


So, that’s it for the rest of 2014. Overall, it has been a pretty busy year as far as presenting goes. I hope to continue that in 2015.

My First Pre-Con: SQL Saturday 332–Minnesota

It is with tremendous joy (and a little trepidation) that I announce that I will be doing my very first Pre-Con as part of SQL Saturday 332 in Minnesota in October. I have been presenting for several years now and feel that it is time to take this next big step. Since I love presenting so much, the idea of presenting for a whole day is just awesome. There is a also quite a bit more pressure in this scenario. But that is part of what makes this a great growth experience, stretching myself like I have never done before.

Over the past several months, I have done a lot of client work in Excel dealing with Power Pivot and Pivot Tables. I have also been doing a bit using Power View up in SharePoint, the vast majority of which carries to Excel 2013 as well. I have always been a fan of enabling users to do more with data and learn to be more self-sufficient. My experiences in Excel have reinforced the idea that Excel is a fantastic platform in the Self-Service BI movement. The past several months working with data in Excel have been some of the most fun in my career. So, when I needed a topic for a BI Pre-Con, the choice was easy.

You can find information on all the SQL Saturday 332 Minnesota Pre-cons here. It is an impressive line-up, to be sure. The abstract for mine is below.

Microsoft Excel: The Business Intelligence Platform For The Masses

From gathering and shaping source data through data modeling and visualizations, it is staggering how much you can accomplish in Excel. This Pre-Con will walk you through creating an interesting and powerful BI solution in Microsoft Excel 2013. Whether you are a business user or a technical developer, you will get good value from attending.

1. Power Query 

• Using Power Query to gather source data from various sources both on-premise and in the cloud. 

• Use various transformations on the Ribbon

• Travel back and forth through time via Query Steps

• The basics of Power Query Formula Language (M)

2. Modeling Data With Power Pivot

• Importing Data from various sources

• Linking Tables to data residing directly in Excel sheets

• The importance of Date Tables

• Best Practices

3. DAX 101

• Introduce DAX syntax beginning with Calculated Columns including the mighty Related function

• The basics of the Calculated Fields (Measures)

• Row context/filter context

• The power of the CALCULATE function

• More…

4. Power Pivot/DAX Design Patterns

• Solving real-word problems with Power Pivot

• Many to Many relationships

• Parent-Child Hierarchies

• Segmentation

• More…

5. Excel Pivot Tables/Charts

• Connecting Excel to data sources like SSAS Cubes, Tabular Models, and the internal Power Pivot model

• Pivot Table basics

• Filtering methods and Slicers

• Conditional formatting

• Pivot Charts

• More…

6. Power View

• The basic visualizations (Bars, Columns, Matrix, etc)

• Advanced visualizations (Multiples, Cards, Scatter/Bubble Charts, etc

• Filtering views or the entire report

• Design tips to take great advantage of Power View’s capabilities


I will be focusing on using Excel 2013 on my machine. There is so much to cover that trying to add in Power BI-specifics is just not in the cards. But I think that makes sense as SO many more people have Excel on their machines than are using Power BI right now. And SO few of those people are taking advantage of even a tiny subset of what Excel has to offer. A major goal of this Pre-Con is to help change that.

My PASS Summit 2014 Submission Feedback

Speakers have been asking PASS for feedback regarding their Summit submissions for a few years. This year, following a bit of a heated “discussion,” PASS announced that session feedback would be available upon request. I, like so many other speakers had done, applaud this decision. PASS did make it clear that the both the quantity and the quality of the feedback varies widely.

I am a big proponent of learning from the experiences of others. As such, in the hopes that someone can learn something from the feedback I got, I hereby share what I received. I want to thank the reviewers who took the time to make these comments.

Analysis Services Terms and Concepts For The DBA (REGULAR SESSION – NOT SELECTED)


Despite some overlapping concepts, the worlds of the Relational engine and Analysis Services really are quite different. With more and more organizations realizing the power of Analytics, there is a good chance a BI initiative will come your way at some point.


This session is intended for the DBA that wants/needs to learn more about SQL Server Analysis Services. The goal is to provide a meaningful base of knowledge that will allow you to effectively participate in discussions of Analysis Services in your organization.


Through both slides and demos, you will learn:

— The differences between SSAS Multidimensional and SSAS Tabular

— Key terms like Measures, Dimensions, and Hierarchies

— Storage options such as MOLAP, HOLAP, ROLAP, and Direct Query

— Monitoring with Extended Events

— Overviews of MDX, DAX, and XMLA

— And more


Come take a few steps into the exciting world of Business Intelligence with SQL Server Analysis Services.


Seems this may be a 100 level session
Good topic, sounds more like a 100-level session to me.
No need of prerequisites to be SQL Server Administrator. should also focus on OLAP DW part and schema concept, slice and dice part of SSAS OLAP cube if someone wants to show the power of BI Analytics using SQL server analysis services.
Excellent and useful topic!


DANGER: The Art and Science of Presenting (REGULAR SESSION – NOT SELECTED)


Over the past decade, we have learned a lot about the chemistry of the brain and why humans react the way we do to events in our environment. The idea of Emotional Intelligence – EQ – is a compelling concept that applies this knowledge in a set of learn-able, improvable skills for leading others. Although EQ is often applied to corporate leadership, this session will explain the basics of EQ and demonstrate how you can use it to make your presentations better in the following areas:


• Crafting better slide decks

• Preparing yourself for presenting

• Delivering your content

• Dealing with the unexpected


Understanding and practicing the concepts of EQ can make your presentations a better experience for everyone in the room – including you.


This session was chosen as an Alternate last year and I ended up presenting. It was greatly successful (narrowly missed being in the Top Ten sessions) so I submitted it again, noting to the committee why I was doing so. That should provide some additional context to some of the feedback.


Excellent topic. Excellent consistency across session name, abstract, topic and goals. Perhaps, given the topic, some real examples should have been added. Reference to PASS is 2013 should have been avoided.
While the abstract and topic are great I’m not sure that we would want to see a repeat session from last year.
Delivered too recently at the past Summit. Very targeted audience.
The abstract goes too much into EQ and feels disconnected from the title.


Keeping the "Business" in Business Intelligence (REGULAR SESSION – NOT SELECTED)


It is no accident the term “Business Intelligence” starts with “Business.” Any Business Intelligence initiative should, likewise, start with the needs of the Business. For many years, BI was seen as a technology project. This is one reason why so many BI initiatives fail. Rather than a Technology Project, BI is a Business Program. It must grow and evolve as the Business grows and evolves.


In this session, we will discuss the following:

— Why BI is a worthwhile investment (using case study examples)

— What criteria to use in determining the success of a BI initiative

— Several reasons why BI initiatives fail

— Critical Success Factors for BI


So much of the success for BI happens before the requirements are even gathered. Come learn how you can set yourself up for success with Business Intelligence.


Could be an interesting approach to a rather dry topic
The abstract is clear about what will be discussed as for failures of BI projects. If it has real examples, maybe you can get some demo to demonstrate. You can demo the results in chart, as time and effort, even the results.
Thanks for the abstract.


Power Query: Data Chemistry for The Masses (REGULAR SESSION – SELECTED)


ETL Developers have being doing chemistry with data for years in tools like SQL Server Integration Services. These tools require training, experience, and time that few business users have. But in the age of self-service BI, those business users need a way to shape data to support their analysis.


This session will show how Power Query can be easily used to take advantage of data’s properties to drive the change we need to support our goals.


We will discuss/demonstrate:

— The simple process of accessing a wide variety of data sources

— The ease with which simple transformations can be achieved using the Power Query Ribbon

— Power Query’s fantastic ability to travel through time to see every step taken with the data

— The foundations of the Power Query Formula Language, informally known as "M"

— Using "M" to take Power Query WAY beyond what the Ribbon has to offer.


Come learn about what may well be the most exciting member of the Power BI family.


seems like too much to cover in 75




As with so many aspects of life, a solid foundation makes a huge difference. This Star Trek themed introduction to MDX leads you on a voyage through the terms and concepts necessary for a solid foundation for learning this fascinating language. Terms covered include:

— Measures and Measure Groups

— Attributes and Dimensions

— Hierarchies

— Members

— Tuples

— Sets


This session also shows how you can think about the cube space in a way that is very easy to understand. The word "cube" suggests a 3 dimensional object. That way of thinking is fraught with confusion. Forget about the Rubik’s Cube. It doesn’t help.


With that foundation, we then dive into MDX syntax and fundamentals including:

— Query Axes

— Slicer Axis

— Tuples and Sets

— Hierarchy Navigation Functions

— Crossjoin

— Functions allowing us to travel through time


Come join us for a fun voyage through the cube space and boldly go where no MDX presentation has gone before.


Is the topic about MDX or DAX? Just got a little bit confused. The abstract states what will be discussed and what the analogy comes from. About the level, it may be better to be at level 100 since it is an introduction of MDX.


Getting Started with SSAS Extended Events (LIGHTNING TALK – SELECTED)


With SQL Server Profiler on its way to retirement, our friends on the relational database side of the house have already been taking great advantage of the power of Extended Events (XE). There is a lot of great info out there for using XE against the database engine. For Analysis Services, there is a lot less.


This Lightning Talk will demonstrate how easy it is to get started very quickly with SSAS XE once you have some basic information.


We will demonstrate:

— Creating an SSAS Extended Events Trace which outputs to a .xel file

— Make sure your trace is running via the DISCOVER_TRACES rowset

— Importing the contents of that .xel file into a SQL Server db engine table for analysis

— Deleting the SSAS Extended Events trace


Good topic and the abstract explains exactly what the attendee can expect from the session
Great abstract with details on what will be presented and what to expect to learn!
Thanks for the abstract,It’s good to have someone talk on the  power of Extended Events (XEvents) part.


Reporting Services Pagination Triple Play (LIGHTNING TALK – NOT SELECTED)


The ability to have some control over the pagination of Reporting Services reports has been around a while. But it never hurts to review the fundamentals.


This demonstration will cover:

— Basic pagination in Reporting Services using Rectangles (Love these)

— Adding a page name that carries to Excel exports

— Adding a basic Table of Contents to your multi-page report using Bookmarks

— Adding a more dynamic, data driven Table of Contents to your report using Bookmarks and expressions


Come on out to this ballgame where we hit on  SSRS pagination with a report about three of the most famous infielders in the history of Baseball.



Great abstract
Excellent topic that people always ask about in classes
100 demo!
Level appropriate to content
lots to cover in 10 minutes


My Takeaways

Given that there seems to be a wide range in terms of quality and quantity provided to speakers, I have to say that I feel I made out pretty well here. I am pretty happy with both the quantity and quality here.

I am a little puzzled about the confusion over whether my MDX session is on MDX or DAX. And I think MDX is complex enough that any session on it is at least a 200 level, particularly given that almost everyone learns TSQL first and must “unlearn” some things in order to grasp MDX.

Given that the Keeping the “Business” in Business Intelligence is about concepts and ideas, and not technology, I am not sure how I could add demo to it that would not be contrived in an attempt just to say there was some demo.

Overall, I am pretty happy with this feedback and glad PASS made the decision to make it available.


PASS Business Analytics Conference 2014 Recap

BadgeWow. That was quite a few days I had in San Jose last week. Since you follow my blog with rapt joy, you no doubt have already read my two Live Blogs of the keynote addresses. As you can see, there was a lot of great info flowing. It was really fun to participate in that flow and help people who could not be there to share in some of the experience. I actually enjoy the pressure of blogging something live and it is gratifying that people keep telling me how much they like it when I do.

A few people have commented on the nature of my live blog posts, how they auto-update themselves without the reader having to refresh. The key for me is a free WordPress plugin called Live Blogging. You can find info about it here. It is out of date now, but I like it so much that I will keep using it as long as I am able.

The overall pressure was a bit less for me this year since I was not speaking. I actually wasn’t expecting to go at all until a few things fell into place just right about a month ago. In addition to the missing Speaker ribbon this year, I was happy to wear a different ribbon for the first time. Do you see which one I mean? You found it. Yes. I am a Diva. I wore that proudly. It started some conversations, as I expected it would. Mission accomplished. Conversations, after all, are a HUGE part of what makes conferences like this so valuable. Networking and connecting with people is essential. I don’t really consider myself a Diva. But it did fit my Purple ribbon theme this year.

Last year, my PASS Business Analytics Conference Recap focused on stepping out of my comfort zone and the ROI involved with doing so. This year, the theme of my Recap is on Sharing. PASS marketing for events often includes the slogan: Connect. Share. Learn. That is really what we do at these events. The more I think about it, though, the more I see that Share is at the center of all of it (literally, too, for those paying attention). When we Connect with others, it involves Sharing something of ourselves. When we Learn, that involves someone sharing their knowledge with others. In the age of social media, a massive number of people share so much information with others, including what their lunch looked like, where they are now, where they are going, who they are with, where they want to be, which Lord of the Rings character they are, and “It’s Complicated.”

Sharing is at the root of so much that is happening today. We are sharing more within our organizations with the rather new Enterprise Social movement with Lync and Yammer and other similar technologies. We are sharing our passion for coding with the next generation with Reshma Saujani’s Girls Who Code and Lynn Langit’s Teaching Kids Programming. We are sharing our treasure to support interesting projects via Kickstarter. We are sharing our data and insights more effectively with Power BI (I couldn’t resist. I’m a BI guy after all). With the Self-Serve BI movement in general, BI professionals like me are sharing the experience of enabling others to explore data with an ever larger group of people. So many of today’s tools and technologies revolve around making insights easier to get. Why should the CXO be the only one with access to interesting data about our organizations? Why not share it with people at all levels that can make better decisions via that data? We are proving more and more that sharing what we have does not make us weaker, it makes us stronger. It is such an exciting time to be working with Data during what can easily be called a Renaissance in that respect.

Data is everywhere. It permeates (wow, fancy word, eh?) our society in ways you may not think about. We are learning more and more, as well, that it is not just THAT we share Data, but HOW we share it that makes a big difference. I was ECSTATIC to see the mighty Data Visualization expert David McCandless (Website|Twitter) was delivering a keynote. There is SO MUCH bad data viz out there. So many people LYING to us by presenting what might otherwise be good data in a way that is intended to mislead. It is not going to get better until we learn to see through it and the people LYING with data, who rely on our ignorance, see that ignorance evaporate. It is not just those extreme cases, though. There are so many people with great intentions who try to share data effectively but just don’t know how. Often, they mistakenly obscure the meaning of data with something shiny. They don’t realize that it is the DATA that should POP, not the shiny. Data Visualization is an area that I am just digging into. I find it exciting and strewn (another fancy word) with possibilities.

We teach our children to share at school, at home, at the park, at parties, etc. We, as adults, are getting back into sharing. And, by sharing data, we get back into another activity from childhood: play. Just as children learn through play, so too do we, as data professionals, learn through playing with Data. It is through play that we can find the patterns and relationships we didn’t know where there. As David McCandless said, “There is so much data in the world, what else can you do but play with it?”

I have said it before, and I will say it again: events like the PASS Business Analytics Conference are an amazing opportunity. If you have never been to a conference like that, or a SQL Saturday, I implore you to make every effort to try it. I have NEVER been disappointed that I attended a conference. Ever. I have gotten something valuable out of each and every one. I have one last piece of advice to share: Go find something you are passionate about. Connect with others in your community. Share your passion with them. Learn together. Repeat.

I know that was more than one. But, hey. It’s my blog. I’ll do what I want. 🙂

<mic drop>

Looking Forward to the PASS Business Analytics Conference

Next week, I have the great privilege to attend the PASS Business Analytics Conference in San Jose, CA. This is actually a bit of a surprise since the pieces only fell into place a few weeks ago for my being able to go.

I have been given the opportunity to be part of the Blogger Core again this year and will be Live Blogging the Keynotes. I will also be spending a fair amount of time in the PASS Community Zone chatting about PASS, BI, Data, Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Firefly. And Spenser For Hire, if anyone is interested. Remember that show? It was awesome.

I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things I am really excited about. These are in no particular order and this is certainly not everything.


I have never been to California, so it will add another US State to my list of “Been There.”


Day 1 Keynote by Amir Netz (Twitter) and Kamal Hathi (Twitter) of Microsoft. These gentlemen are both brilliant and great speakers. I actually had the honor to sit down with Kamal for an interview at the 2013 PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC. That was a great experience.


Day 2 Keynote by Data Visualization expert David McCandless (Website|Twitter). I consider myself a student of data visualization. The field fascinates me and I am excited to keep learning more.


Panel: Has Big Data Killed the EDW? This session is a panel discussion with five speakers for whom I have immense respect:

Joseph D’Antoni (Blog|Twitter)

Josh Fennessy (Blog|Twitter)

Karen Lopez (Blog|Twitter)

Lynn Langit (Blog|Twitter)

Stacia Misner (Blog|Twitter)

There is just so much hype around Big Data. And whenever anything new comes along, there always has to be people screaming about some other thing that has to be “dying” because of it. I am looking forward to hearing the views of these excellent data professionals.


DAX From the Field: Real-World Case Studies This session, by DAX expert Alberto Ferrari (Blog|Twitter) looks really exciting. I have to come out and say it: I love DAX. I really do. And I fully realize that my DAX needs improving if I want to keep taking my skills forward. This session by Alberto will be a great way to do that.


Health Analytics: Quality and Effectiveness of Healthcare With Power BI Tom Lawry (Blog|Twitter) is the Director, Worldwide Health for Microsoft. This looks to be a great session as it combines Healthcare AND Power BI. There is just so much happening in the Healthcare industry as it related to data and BI. I’m love the tools in Power BI. This session has Awesome written all over it.


Business Intelligence Transformed Our Finance Department This looks to be an outstanding session by Gremeen Foundation Senior Business Manager Jason Hahn (Twitter) and Marc Reguera (YouTube Channel|Twitter) of Microsoft Finance. I have viewed many of Marc’s Microsoft BI YouTube videos and they are great real-world examples.


A Master Data Management Case Study: MDS and DQS The concepts involved in Master Data Management are so important to successful BI. This session from the mighty Josh Fennessy (Blog|Twitter) looks to be jam packed with great information from his experience.


SQLFamily There are so many friends I have made through PASS events like the Summit, BA Conference, and SQL Saturdays. And often, it is only at these events that I get to see some of these friends. That is one of my favorite aspects of going to events like this. The People are AWESOME.

That wraps it up for now. If you are attending the BA Conference, I would love to meet you.