Why UK Power BI Summit? Derive business value from your data

I’ve created UK Power BI Summit in response to an industry need for Power BI to have its own event, and I hope to produce a repeatable model for other Power BI groups globally. I am working with Microsoft in Redmond at the moment, in the hope that I can spread the world globally about the power of enabling businesses through data, via easily-accessible tools.

What’s the rationale? Personally, the next step in my career is to continue my trajectory from the data center towards boardroom level leadership and consultancy, in order to help organisations become 21st century, data-driven organisations. Data is at the foundation of businesses. Data, in turn, leads to insights and better decisions that improve the business. Ideally, businesses should have data as part of their DNA. This does not mean that there is not a place for context or for ‘gut instinct’. Data gives businesses new insights, and, in turn, it gives them new options.

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My favourite bookshop in the world: The Strand Bookstore, New York, on the corner of Broadway and E 12th Street.

With my business and technical skills in mind, I am doing my MBA at this stage in my career to focus on building businesses as data-driven organisations. The MBA will help me to combine my technical and business expertise within an established framework that will help me to be more effective in a leadership role. I believe that the MBA will help me to articulate and achieve a strategic viewpoint, which, in turn, will help businesses to use their data more effectively.

I am not alone in this data-driven journey. My industry experience tells me that many organisations suffer from one thing: hype about the possibilities and opportunities in data, and, particularly Big Data, but they don’t know how to get started in terms of technology, people, and enabling business processes that would consume these services.

Organisations can find it difficult to know where to start, or even how to start. Very often, businesses simply store all of their data, rather than think proactively about the data that they have, and how they could use it. As businesses continue to get excited about the opportunities of Big Data, they will also need Data Thought Leadership in order to guide them effectively towards success.

Digital Transformation is a much bandied about term. It isn’t simply whacking a few Virtual Machines in Azure, moving data to the cloud and – yay – digital transformation. It’s about transforming the business through the use of technology, and it has the business at the front-and-center of the activity.

Now is the time for businesses to bring their data and their strategy together, using the latest technologies – but they can’t do that, until they see their data. This is where Power BI come in.

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The Power BI event is aimed at those people in the organisation who are aware of business needs, user needs, and have winning ideas and who are willing to learn about user-oriented technology to make that happen. The event is aimed at helping these people to learn about the technology from beginner to advanced, according to their needs.

Although the event is about technology, it’s also about the business, and deriving business value from your data. It’s not a straightforward technology event. It’s about the business as well as the technology, and how it’s used. It’s about bringing you along the journey, further.

I thought that the difference between UK Power BI Summit and other events such as PASS SQLSaturday events, SQLBits were fairly clear, but it would seem from my email traffic that my assumption wasn’t correct.

Just to be clear:

  • I am not part of the SQLBits committee and I have nothing to do with their leadership. I don’t represent them and I’m not featured on their promotional video. I’ve been speaking there since SQLBits 7 through to SQLBits XV. You can look for my SQLBits 7 – 15 sessions here.
  • I am part of PASS and a non executive Director, and I sit on the PASS Board as an elected Director. I don’t represent PASS here. If you want a PASS-validated blog, then please head over to their site. This isn’t a PASS event.

Let’s look at the SQLBits mission statement, taken from their site:

SQL Bits was started by a group of individuals that are passionate about the SQL Server product suite. There is a breadth of knowledge in the SQL Community that will benefit everyone in the community. We want to spread that knowledge. We all work with the SQL community, some of us for many years and have all been given the MVP award by Microsoft.

Let’s look at the PASS Mission Statement, taken from their site:

PASS is an independent, not-for-profit organization run by and for the community. With a growing membership of more than 100K, PASS supports data professionals throughout the world who use the Microsoft data platform.

PASS strives to fulfill its mission by:

  • Facilitating member networking and the exchange of information through our local and virtual chapters, online events, local and regional events, and international conferences
  • Delivering high-quality, timely, technical content for in-depth learning and professional development

PASS was co-founded by CA Technologies and Microsoft Corporation in 1999 to promote and educate SQL Server users around the world. Since its founding, PASS has expanded globally and diversified its membership to embrace professionals using any Microsoft data technology.

So, the UK Power BI Summit is ultimately looking at using Power BI to transform businesses, through expertise in the technology, embedded in business-oriented discussions. The technology should support the business in its mission to adapt to the new world of data.

If you’d like to register, click below:

Eventbrite - UK Power BI Summit

UK Power BI Summit

I’m very proud to say that I’m the lead organiser for the UK Power BI Summit, held on 16th and 17th February! I’d like to thank Microsoft and Pyramid Analytic for their support of the event; it wouldn’t happen without them.

Need help on Power BI, or just to know how to get started throughout the organisation? What about Cortana – how can it be useful for your organisation?

Come and join Siva Harinath and Will Thompson, flying in from Microsoft’s Power BI Team in Redmond, to join us in the UK for the inaugural UK Power BI Summit! Siva and Will are delivering the keynote and also delivering a workshop on Advanced Power BI with Data Modelling.

When: 16th and 17th February 2017 

Where: Shendish Manor, Hemel Hempstead.

Cost: of the event is £120 inclusive of VAT. Click here to register and pay for UK Power BI Summit

 

A choice of hands-on workshop on Thursday 16th February:

  • AzureML and Cortana OR
  • Advanced Power BI with Data Modelling

AND

  • A choice of general conference sessions on Friday 17th February
  • Birds of a Feather roundtable discussions on Friday 17th February

See you there!

Click here to register and pay for UK Power BI Summit

Review: Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder

Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder
Mathenauts: Tales of Mathematical Wonder by Rudy Rucker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book years ago, and it has stayed with me. I was lucky enough to find a copy for 50p in a bookshop close to the University of Glasgow, and it’s stayed with me for about twenty years. It’s been part of my life.
Although it has topics like Goedel’s Theorem, fourth dimension, the liar paradox (“This sentence is false.”) and even fun wordplays, you don’t have to be a maths genius to read, understand and enjoy this book. You’ll read accessible and intriguing fiction stories which will ignite your imagination, and your interest in maths. You’ll absorb these topics better.
Since the book has a series of short stories, you’ll find, naturally, that some speak to you more than others. Isaac Asimov’s story has stayed with me, in particular – I won’t spoil it for you.

View all my reviews

PASS Business Analytics Day, Jan 11, Chicago

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PASS’ first Business Analytics Day, which will be held in Chicago on January 11, 2017. You can choose one of two full-day, in-depth sessions for $595: In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016 and Mastering Power BI Solutions.

These are unique learning opportunities to get more advanced in R or data visualization with Power BI. And as with other PASS events, the goal is to allow you to walk away with real-world analytics knowledge that you can use immediately!

PASS Business Analytics Day

You have two great choices: In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016 and Mastering Power BI Solutions.

In-Database Analytics with R and SQL Server 2016

With Microsoft SQL Server 2016, data scientists can run in-database analytics using R. This is a “best of both worlds” scenario: delegate database management to SQL Server whilst you create analytics and visualisations in R and Power BI. In this session, we will cover the overall architecture of SQL R Services and go over some best practices. We will look at best practices in analytics and visualisations with a focus on R, and then we delve more in-depth into some practical common use-cases.

Speakers:
David Smith, R Community Lead at Revolution Analytics, a Microsoft Company
Seth Mottaghinejad, Data Scientist, Microsoft

Mastering Power BI Solutions

In this Power BI hands-on Workshop, you will master the “power” of Power BI. Learn to use self-service and enterprise-scale Power BI capabilities; gain valuable skills to integrate, wrangle, shape and visualize data for analysis. Beginning and intermediate level users will learn to address data and reporting challenges with advanced design techniques.

Speaker:
Paul Turley, Mentor with SolidQ, BI Architect, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP

Date: January 11, 2017

Location: Microsoft Technology Center, #200 – 200 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL.

We hope you’ll join us!

Business Analytics Webinar Marathon announced!

31060117291_46e25da6d4_kJoin PASS on 14th December for our next bumper edition of the Business Analytics (BA) Marathon on Wednesday, December 14. We have six back-to-back sessions, all about analytics. Why not challenge yourself to attend all six?

If you want to learn R, predictive analytics, or learn about business analytics generally, then join our industry experts for six back-to-back webinars.

Each webinar lasts for an hour, and they start at 17:00 GMT. Check the time in your own timezone here

Webinar Date: Wed December 14, 2016

Start time: 17:00 GMT ¦ Check the time in your own timezone here

Session 1: Analyzing Healthcare Open Data with Power BI
Dan English, Senior Data Warehouse Architect, Constellation

Session 2: Big Data Analytics with SparkR
Jen Underwood, Founder of Impact Analytix, LLC

Session 3: Disrupt the Static Nature of BI with Predictive Anomaly Detection
Uri Maoz, Vice President of US business, Anodot

Session 4: Using R to Clean and Transform Small Data
Mark Wilcock, Technical Delivery Manager, ‎Credit Suisse

Session 5: Visualizing Multiple Time Series with R in Power BI
Bill McLellan, BI Team Lead and Sr. BI Solutions Specialist, TKC Holdings

Session 6: Real-World Predictive Analytics
Miguel Molina-Cosculluela, Managing Partner & Analytics Evangelist, Analytikus
Diwakar Rajagopal, Senior Director of Partnerships, Pyramid Analytics

See you there!

How Microsoft can help join the Open Data dots

In one of the industry’s best known volte-face, Microsoft have warmly embraced Open Source. As announced at Microsoft’s Connect() conference earlier this week, Microsoft is pleased to become a Linux Foundation Platinum Member. We also saw a quieter announcement; the Azure DataMarket is being decommissioned.

Now that Microsoft are ecstatically adopting Open Source Software, I’d love to see Microsoft adopt Open Data too. I’d love to see an Open Data platform on Azure, which is easy-to-use, aimed at business users, data scientists and even consumers in the form of data citizens.

If you look up Open Data, you’ll see that there are open data ‘puddles’ everywhere. So we have the London Data Store, SF Open Data, and the Azure DataMarket already has some Open Data, for example, the UK Met Office Weather Open Data. Why not have all of these data puddles joined up in a new, Azure-based, Open Data store?

There is no joined up thinking in the world that would constitute an Open Data Lake. I’d love Microsoft to adopt this on behalf of, and for, the data community worldwide.

30293196663_f55039a144I’d like to see the Azure DataMarket rebooted to be a home for an Open Data platform. Perhaps it could be called Azure Open Data, or even simply Azure Open, or something simple like that.

Microsoft can join the Open Data dots for the community, and that’s a real democratization of data for us all.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s next after Azure DataMarket?

Microsoft are retiring Azure DataMarket due to a lack of sustained customer interest in DataMarket. Why is that, and where do we go from here?

High Hopes

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Credit: Stocksnap.io

I hoped the Azure DataMarket might become a cloud-based Master Data Solution for people building data warehouses. So, for example, people would download a Geography dimension, or a Date Dimension, which was pretty robust and clean. Users could then change it to meet their needs, and it would form a ‘Master’ within their organisation. Your single version of the truth.

 

 

If your data is in silos, so is your analytics

Organisations don’t seem to consider Master Data Management very much. What is Master Data Management, anyway? Master data management (MDM) provides a trusted view of critical business entities, in data, which are stored, probably duplicated, in siloed applications – customers, suppliers, partners, products, materials, accounts, etc.
Master Data Management (MDM) solutions provide a simple and trusted view of your data to allow you to think horizontally about your data, across your business. This is in contrast with thinking vertically about your data, in data silos which usually match LOBs. Horizontal and vertical thinking helps achieve customer centric objectives and business results.

Wrong Problem, Wrong Audience

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Credit: Stocksnap.io

Why did Azure DataMarket fail? It seemed to be aimed primarily at IT people, not business people. Now, IT folks are usually pretty good at searching. A contact of mine bemoaned a Kibana implementation I’d done for his organisation, stating that I’d taken grep away from him and he’d worked so hard to teach everyone grep for the last two years and now it was all visual fluffy stuff. (Suck it up, princess. Kibana rocks and everyone is using it.).

Business people don’t rock grep, regex or any other greppy like tool. They want easy-to-use, easy-to-find solutions.

A Solution Looking for a Problem

Let’s hope Microsoft will do a DataMarket again, which aimed at the right business people to find things quickly. I don’t want something that is a solution looking for a problem.

The right problem: make search easy for the folks who need it most. Not for the IT folks, but the less well defined Information Worker who actually struggles with data. Let them access it very simply, and soon you’ll have Azure data being mashed with other data sources and it’s a step in the journey of getting users familiar with Azure.

And if we can get folks to think about proper Master Data Management based in the cloud, that’s easy to navigate, then that’s got to be a good thing.