Convincing your HiPPO at EARL Conference in London!

29 Jul ID-100257254

ID-100257254I’m delighted to be speaking at the EARL Conference to be held in London on the 14th – 16th September. What’s my topic?

Convince your HiPPO with Real world Data Storytelling in R and Machine Learning

In a world where the HiPPO’s (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) is final, how can we use technology to drive the organisation towards data-driven decision making as part of their organizational DNA? R provides a range of functionality in machine learning, but we need to expose its richness in a world where it is made accessible to decision makers. Using Data Storytelling with R, we can imprint data in the culture of the organization by making it easily accessible to everyone, including decision makers. Together, the insights and process of machine learning are combined with data visualisation to help organisations derive value and insights from big and little data.

In this session, we will use R and cloud-based technologies in order to explore and analyse data using machine learning and statistical packages functionality, and we will look at our results. Then, we will look at how we disseminate the results to the HiPPO audience, using best practices in data visualisation and R, informed by gurus such as Stephen Few and Edward Tufte.

If you want to know how to demystify R and the insights you’ve found during your analyses, join this session in order to learn about machine learning as a technology and a discipline, and how to make the most of your insights using best practice data visualisation. Using real-life scenarios, this session will help you to communicate the insights of your data to your HiPPO, thereby helping to move your organisation towards a data-driven culture.

R now ranks as the sixth most popular programming language  – its move from last year’s 9th place reflecting the growing importance of data analytics to an increasing number of industries and sectors.  EARL offers a unique opportunity to discover how R is being used commercially to provide a wealth of business solutions.

EARL London will feature :

  • Presentations from over 40 R gurus and Business leaders
  • Speakers represent a broad range of industry sectors  – including:  insurance, manufacturing, customer analytics, life sciences, finance etc
  • Sessions include:  Data Visualisation, Business Challenges, Big Data Technologies, Modelling, Workflow and Commercial Applications
  • Keynote speakers:  Alex Bellow, Dirk Eddelbuettel, Joe Cheng and Hannah Fry
  • Speakers representing Companies such as Shell, KPMG, AstraZeneca, Lloyd’s of London, UBS and Hewlett Packard
  • Pre Conference workshops on:  Interactive Reporting with R Markdown and Shiny (now SOLD OUT), An Introduction to Rcpp,  Integrating R and Python, and Current Best Practices in Formal Package Development
  • Sponsors and Exhibitors including Revolution Analytics, RStudio, Hewlett Packard, Teradata, Oracle, Harnham UK, Plotly, Tessella, Information Builders and O’Reilly
  • Sensational central London venue
  • 3 Conference Networking events including the Main Conference Reception in the amazing walkways of London’s iconic Tower Bridge

If you have yet to purchase your ticket please don’t delay to avoid disappointment. Tickets can be purchased online via credit card or can be invoiced if required. Group discounts are available to companies sending >5 attendees – please email earl-team@mango-solutions.com for more information.

Cortana Analytics News Roundup

27 Jul

If you found missed Joseph Sirosh’s webinar on Cortana Analytics, Click here to view the webinar. If you don’t have time for that, then Click here to download a copy of the slides that were presented.

If you are interested in a review by an industry analyst, I’d recommend Andrew Brust’s article on Cortana from ZDNet. Mary-Jo Foleys’ original ZDNet article on the announcement from WPC is also a good read.

If you are interested in in-person events, then be sure to sign up for the Cortana Analytics Workshop planned September 10-11, 2015 at Microsoft Campus in Redmond. I wish I could attend, but unfortunately that’s not possible.

Also keep a watch on the Machine Learning Blog site, where the team will be publishing out more information on an ongoing basis.

Cross Platform MVP activities: my foray into CRM at the CRM UG UK event

8 Jul

I went to the CRM UK User Group event today, and wow – what a blast! To know more about the CRM User Group for the UK, please visit here.

It was a great example of what a community event can be. The CRM MVPs are welcoming, friendly, generous with their time and expertise, hard working and – most of all – ‘other’ community oriented, not ‘self’ oriented. What is an MVP? According to Microsoft, Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs are exceptional community leaders who actively share their high-quality, real-world deep technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft. They are committed to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft products and technologies.

I love the fact that some of the MVPs in the UK are reaching out to other product groups. For me personally, I hope I started some new friendships today, and I hope to keep the conversation going with the CRM community. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all might speak different technological languages, but, by sharing our insights and community spirit, we help to make the community more ‘sharing’ and open. I really enjoyed my conversations with the CRM folks, and I learned a lot too. It’s true that you have to give and take in the community, and I will cherish today.

My session over-ran by half an hour, which was particularly naughty because I only had an hour session. I can honestly say I’ve never over-run like that before. However, the ‘over-run’ was actually delivering value for the attendees, because they fired a lot of their data type of questions at me. I was glad to have help from Peter Baddeley to answer some of the more intricate aspects of SharePoint (he’s a guru, by the way!) and after a while, Adam Vero was kind enough to step in the room and to help me out with some of the CRM questions that I couldn’t answer, and I dealt with a lot of the ‘data’ type questions from the SQL Server and Power BI point of view. The truth is, a lot of data issues are multi-faceted and the session-turned-panel segment was extremely useful for everyone, including me!

I’d also like to thank the CRM User Group members. The audience were very friendly and welcoming to me, and they appreciated my PowerBI session. What did I show? Firstly, I wasn’t sure at what level to pitch the session. This was the first time I’d ever spoken to a CRM audience before, and I was more nervous than usual. Would they be technical? Would the be sales, marketing or service oriented? Were they business users? Or, worst of all, would I end up with a mix?

If you want to see some of the slides, I stayed with the staple Partner pack of PowerBI material that you can download from here. I didn’t use them all – just a few of the architectural overview slides. I also used some of the CRM information, which you can download, if you are a fully paid up partner. I knew that this material would be ‘safe’ because there was a slide dedicated to the PowerBI and Dynamic CRM connector. I’ve posted the main slides for you below:
Power BI and CRM  The technical architecture overview can be found below:Power BI Technical Architecture

If you are interested in knowing more, please take a look at the Power BI community website.

If you need more information on the actual connector setup between Power BI and CRM Online, then please visit this website here which also mentions the Power BI and Dynamics CRM Content Pack. There is also a Dynamics Marketing Content Pack, which is worth a look.

And here is a picture of me, looking very small next to the lectern.
CRMUGUK Jen Stirrup
I walked alone, loving the sun, walking the earth… and enjoying simplicity in life and data. I hope that you do, too.

Love, always,

Jen

Jen’s PASS Diary: SQLSaturday Edinburgh: My heartfelt thanks go to…

15 Jun

SQLSaturday Edinburgh went ahead last Saturday, June 13th, and everyone had a great day. It’s clear that people in the community believe in what I am doing. They voted with their feet to attend, to speak, and to sponsor. We had high quality speakers delivering world-class content – 8 MVPs, 2 Microsoft staff, and the remainder are international speakers – and we know that Content is King.

Basically, SQLSaturday Edinburgh Business Intelligence edition was the turning point for the Business Analytics and Business Intelligence ( SQL Server based ) community in the UK.

  • Our event only had five people who had spoken at SQLBits (Carmel Gunn, Bob Duffy, Gary Short, Chris Webb and Satya Jayanty).
  • three of our speakers (Mark Wilcock, Chris Webb and Bob Phillips) all spoke at PASS Business Analytics Conference last April in San Jose, and they all spoke at PASS SQLSaturday London Business Analytics in November 2014.
  • The other speakers have delivered sessions internationally in their field of expertise: Visio, SharePoint, CRM, and this was the first time they’d spoken at a SQL event.

We tried to be more BI and BA focused, and did it work? The feedback so far is a resounding YES. We didn’t try to squeeze the formula for other SQL events onto this one, jam some R in there, and announce it as an analytics event. The content was focused on what we do with data, why, and what the business value is.There will be more on this in future posts. In the meantime, however, I have a lot of thank yous!

I also want to say a heartfelt thank you to the volunteers, without whom, the event would not have happened.

  • Malcolm Smith
  • Izabela Borzecka
  • Robert French
  • Melissa Coates ( Twitter ) who helped by collating templates from her events to use.
  • Prathy Kamasani ( Twitter ) who is just simply amazing. Her smile lifts me and she has really helped to keep me going with her sunny attitude and unfailing support.
  • Rodney Kidd ( Twitter ) has been a rock and a great listener, as well as a helpful, kind gentleman.

Prathy, Rodney – I cannot thank you enough, and your friendship and support will stay with me forever. Thank you.

I want to thank the following sponsors for putting themselves forward to support me in what I’m doing for the Business Intelligence and emerging Business Analytics community in the UK. Without them, there would be no event. Fact.

SQLSaturday Edinburgh 388 Sponsors

I also want to thank our amazing SQLSaturday speakers. If you’d like to download their slides, you will find them on the site.

The speakers were, in order of appearance:

Jon Woodward ( Twitter / Website )

Iain Elder (Twitter)

David Parker ( Website )

Chris Webb ( Website / Twitter )

Ian MacDonald ( Website )

Adam Vero ( Website )

Bob Duffy ( Website / Twitter )

Carmel Gunn ( Website / Twitter )

Peyman Blumstengel ( Website )

Murali Nagaraj ( Website )

Peter Baddeley ( Website / Twitter )

Tom Sykes ( Twitter )

Niall MacLeod ( Website / Twitter )

Mark Wilcock ( Website / Twitter )

Bob Phillips ( Twitter )

Dave Lawrence ( Website / Twitter )

Tim Jones ( Website / Twitter )

Jean-Pierre Riehl ( Twitter / Website )

Gary Short ( Twitter / Website )

Satya Jayanty ( Twitter / Website )

Ric Howe ( Twitter / Website )

If I have missed anyone, it will be a genuine oversight due to a very tired little Jen missing things out!

I owe people emails so please forgive me until I catch my breath! Please bear with me. I’m doing my best.

Love always,

Jen Stirrup

Jen’s Pass Diary: Reflections and a plea for help for the ‘little guy’.

7 Jun

This blog does not represent PASS. Here, I discuss a few threads:

  • PASS HQ Meeting
  • A plea for help for SQLSaturday Edinburgh along with some SQLBits commentary
  • A plea for the little guy – my thoughts on Business Analytics and Business Intelligence
  • and a well wish to someone dear to me
  • PASS HQ Meeting

I have attended another Board meeting in Vancouver this week. It was split into two parts: a main Board meeting, and then separate ‘side sessions’ with key HQ team members.

What’s it like at PASS HQ? Well, they have a friendly office dog who is always looking for cuddles and tidbits! Pets aside, the team work incredibly hard. As a consultant, I walk into customer sites a lot, and I can say that the sense of ‘sqlfamily’ and community is felt throughout the team there, in the same way as community members also show a spirit of community. I really enjoyed my few days there, and I’d like to thank the team for their warm Canadian welcome and their ongoing support.

What happened at the PASS Board meeting? Well, lots was discussed, and you should await your PASS Connector newsletters, and your BA newsletters, for more information. All I can say for now, is that there is a *lot* of news coming and I hope that the community will appreciate it.

  • A plea for help for SQLSaturday Edinburgh along with some SQLBits commentary

I’m running SQLSaturday Edinburgh Business Intelligence Edition on 13th of June and I desperately need volunteers! If you’d like to register for the event, please register here. If you can help, please email me at jen.stirrup@datarelish.com Activities include: registration desk, room monitoring, PASS sponsor desk. I’m glad to say that I have a few volunteers, and I will thank them specifically after the event has occurred. So watch this space.

The SQLBits committee have decided to hold a team meeting on the same day as SQLSaturday Edinburgh. I’m as excited as anyone else about any SQL Server community news coming from the SQLBits team. However, this does mean I have lost some key volunteers who are headed to the SQLBits community team day, rather than come to SQLSaturday Edinburgh. I can totally understand their decision: SQLBits has ‘sex appeal’ and it is a much bigger event. SQLBits is a fantastic event, which I’ve been glad to be part of as a speaker and support it in different ways (more below).

In comparison, my SQLSaturday is a small event, so much so, that nobody realised the clash in dates when they organised their team meeting. I’m not part of the Committee – although I have volunteered to help them in this capacity for a long time – so I was not aware of this clash. I wish them all the best, but it does mean that I’m down some great experienced volunteers, and I am appealing to the tech community for help, assistance and love in trying to make sure that SQLSaturday Edinburgh Business Intelligence goes well operationally on the day for the SQLSaturday Edinburgh organising committee of one person – me! It does serve a real community need in Scotland. Not everyone attends SQLBits – England can seem as far away to Scottish people, as Scotland is to a lot of English people. The event is an unusual mix of rural locals, some of whom will travel for hours via boats from the isles. On the other hand, we get delegates flying in for the BI and BA angle, who come in from all over Europe. I am working hard, in term of my PASS Board activities, in doing things for the European community in particular, and the fledgling BI and BA community here in Europe and in the US via the PASS Business Analytics Conference which I helped to lead.

I am a Committee of one person for SQLSaturday Edinburgh – there is no failover here – and I hope that people will help, but until I ask for help, I’m not going to get any. So here we are! I hope that any potential volunteers will be as excited about this community as I am. Every little helps, as they say, so if you could help with small things like room monitoring or on the PASS booth, that would be fantastic.

  • A plea for the little guy – my thoughts on Business Analytics and Business Intelligence

I believe I am doing some ground-breaking work in doing Business Analytics and Business Intelligence dedicated events in Edinburgh (and London! – more news later!). We are trying something new this year. I have recruited cross product group MVPs and speakers from C#, Access, Visio, SharePoint and Excel as well as SQL Server and Azure. The underlying focus is on BA / BI but I am emphasising the ‘practical’ aspect of data by reaching out to different product groups, with the common theme being data. CRM, for example, is rich in data even if it isn’t traditional SQL Server BI. It’s a BI / BA event so that immediately cuts out DBA oriented content. I believe that the DBA audience is well served in the UK, with SQLBits, SQLRelay so I am not worried about this community missing out. I am worried about the ‘little guy’ who needs to nail data together, and find the promised insights from data and Big Data that Cx level executives are expecting. These Big Data promises need to be delivered by someone, and that person needs training, education, and a community for them to ‘learn, share and connect’. I am trying to work towards that globally as part of PASS, and particularly here in Europe. You will see more news about this from PASS official channels and I will keep it for that – for now, just know that I am bursting to share news!

Again, it is a risk to try this, but I think we will offer enough range within the topics to expand the audience, particularly since we are not actively seeking DBA content. We’re simply expanding in a different, data platform direction.

I hope that this blog isn’t perceived as a complaint about SQLBits or the team- it isn’t. It’s just that SQLSaturday Edinburgh is right down to the wire, and I only found out about this issue a few weeks ago. So I am getting desperate for volunteers and I wasn’t going to share this news at all, however, my efforts to turn up volunteers haven’t been met so I’m hoping for help for this ‘little guy’ too!

What will I do if I don’t get volunteers? I have the option to hire a delegate management package from the SQLSaturday Edinburgh venue. All will not be lost, but I didn’t budget for this emergency measure when I planned SQLSaturday Edinburgh. If I am stuck, I will do this, but obviously community events are run on a very tight budget and I am hoping to avoid this measure.

  • and a well wish to someone dear to me

I am, and have been, a long-term SQLBits supporter since SQLBits 2. I continue to wish them all the best in all that they do. Also, as my previous business partner is part of the SQLBits committee, I indirectly supported the event in terms of time off, my speaking, DitBits and so on, to help to make it happen. I was glad to do that, I don’t regret it for a minute. Here, please note that I wish Allan Mitchell the best wishes for his future ventures and adventures, and I wish this for him from the bottom of my heart.

Jen’s Diary: What does Microsoft’s recent acquisitions of Revolution Analytics mean for PASS?

16 Apr

Caveat: This blog does not represent the views of PASS or the PASS Board. These opinions are solely mine.

The world of data and analytics keeps heating up. Tableau, for example, keeps growing and winning. In fact, Tableau continues to grow total and licence revenue 75% year over year, with its total revenue grew to $142.9 million in the FY4 of 2014.There’s a huge shift in the market towards analytics, and it shows in the numbers. Lets take a look at some of the interesting things Microsoft have done recently, and see how it relates to PASS:

  • Acquired Revolution Analytics, an R-language-focused advanced analytics firm, will bring customers tools for prediction and big-data analytics.
  • Acquired Datazen, a provider of data visualization and key performance indicator data on Windows, iOS and Android devices. This is great from the cross-platform perspective, and we’ll look at this in a later blog. For now, let’s discuss Revolution and Microsoft.

Why it was good for Microsoft to acquire Revolution Analytics

The acquisition shows that Microsoft is bolstering its portfolio of advanced analytics tools. R is becoming increasingly common as a skill set, and businesses are more comfortable about using open source technology such as R. It is also accessible software, and a great tool for doing analytics. I’m hoping that this will help organisations to recognise and conduct advanced analytics, and it will improve the analytics capability in HDInsight.

Microsoft has got pockets of advanced analytics capabilities built into Microsoft SQL Server, and in particular, SQL Server Analysis Services, and also in the SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). Microsoft also has the Azure Machine Learning Service (Azure ML) which uses R in MLStudio. However, it does not have an advanced analytics studio, and the approach can come across as piecemeal for those who are new to it. The acquisition of Revolution Analytics will give Microsoft on-premises tools for data scientists, data miners, and analysts, and cloud and big data analytics for the same crowd.

Here’s what I’d like Microsoft to do with R:

  • Please give some love to SSRS by infusing it with R. There is a codeplex download that will help you to produce R visualisations in SSRS. I’d like to see more and easier integration, which doesn’t require a lot of hacking about.
  • Power Query has limited statistical capability at the moment. It could be expanded to include R. I am not keen for Microsoft to develop yet another programming language and R could be a part of the Power Query story.
  • Self-service analytics. We’ve all seen the self-service business intelligence communications. What about helping people to self-serve analytics as well, once they’ve cracked self-service BI? I’d like to see R made easier to use for everyone. I sense that will be a long way off, but it is an opportunity.
  • Please change the R facility in MLStudio. It’s better to use RStudio to create your R script, then upload it.

What issues do I see in the Revolution Analytics acquisition?

Microsoft is a huge organisation. Where will it sit within the organisation? Any acquisition involves a change management process. Change management is always hard. R touches different parts of the technology stack. This could be further impacted by the open source model that R has been developed under. Fortunately Revolution seem to have thought of some of these issues already: how does it scale, for example? This acquisition will need to be carefully envisioned, communicated and implemented, and I really do wish them every success with it.

What does this mean for PASS?

I hold the PASS Business Analytics Portfolio, and our PASS Business Analytics Conference is being held next week. Please use code BFFJS to get the conference for a discount rate, if you are interested in going.

I think the PASS strategy of becoming more data platform focused is the right one. PASS exist to provide technical community education to data professionals, and I think PASS are well placed to move on the analytics journey that we see in the industry. I already held a series on R for the Data Science Virtual Chapter, and I’m confident you’ll see more material on this and related topics. There are sessions on R at the PASS BA Conference as well. The addition of Revolution Analytics and Datazen is great for Microsoft, and it means that the need for learning in these areas is more urgent, not less. That does not mean that i think that everyone should learn analytics. I don’t. However, I do think PASS can help those who are part of the journey, if they want (or need) to be.

I’m personally glad PASS are doing the PASS Business Analytics Conference because I believe it is a step in the right direction, in the analytics journey we see for the people who want to learn analytics, the businesses who want to use it, and the burgeoning technology. I agree with Brent Ozar ( b / t ) in that I don’t think that the role of the DBA is going away. I do think that, for small / medium businesses, some folks might find that they become the ‘data’ person rather than the DBA being a skill on its own. I envisage that PASS will continue to serve the DBA-specialist-guru as well as the BI-to-analytics people, as well as those who become the ‘one-stop-shop’ for everything data in their small organisation (DBA / BA / Analytics), as well as the DBA-and-Cloud person. It’s about giving people opportunity to learn what they want and need to learn, in order to keep up with the rate of change we see in the industry.

Please feel free to comment below.

Your friend,

Jen Stirrup

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What’s so unique about PASS Business Analytics? The Hands On Labs built in as part of the conference, that’s what!

10 Apr

PASS Business Analytics are holding scheduled Hands on Labs as part of the conference.

This means you can book a lab, and get real life, hands-on experience.

That’s not all – you get a Hands On Lab which is held by a real expert – not just someone who reads off a script. We have labs with the following people:

  • Dean Abbot
  • Chandoo
  • Dan Fylstra
  • Ken Puls
  • Scott Shaw

What are you waiting for? Register now and use the following code to register here to get the conference for $1295

See you there!

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