Announcing DiTBits at SQLBits

We are pleased to announce our inaugural DiTBiTs Cheese and Wine event at SQLBits XI on Friday 3rd May at 5pm in Room 1. The DiTBits site is here, and this is a cross-post.

Our topic is as follows: Networking in IT. Can more diverse networks provide better networks?
Is business networking useful in our careers?
How much has networking helped you in your career?
How can you build good social media profiles – or are these even necessary?

Attendees can enjoy Cheese and Wine refreshments whilst during the Panel discussion and interaction. Then, we’ll have a Flashmob Speed Networking at the end, just to tie things together before everyone shoots off for the party – so bring your business cards!

We are pleased to welcome our following panellists:

Denise McInerney is joining us from the United States, so please be sure to give Denise a hearty SQLBits welcome! Denise McInerney is a DBA-turned-Data-Analyst. She lives in Silicon Valley where she is employed by the software company Intuit. Denise founded the PASS Women in Technology chapter and currently serves as a member of the PASS Board of Directors. She is a Microsoft MVP.

Mark Broadbent is well known within the UK and across the world as a dedicated PASS ‘Outstanding Volunteer’ award winner and UK Regional Mentor. He is a SQL Server specialist and speaker focusing on HADR & upgrade solutions and in 2011 was awarded Microsoft’s Community Contributor award and in 2012 received the PASS Outstanding Volunteer award. He is the proud host of the first UK SQLSaturday, and is hosting another SQLSaturday event in Cambridge later this year.

Stephanie Locke works primarily in the BI space as a Senior Analyst responsible for delivering high profile projects and educating & mentoring others.  She coordinates the local user group for SQL Server and tries to help grow the community.

The host for the inaugural DiTBits event is Jen Stirrup, a SQL Server MVP who best-known for her work in Business Intelligence and Data Visualisation. She is the current holder of the SQLPassion Award, presented by PASS at Summit 2012, for her work in helping the European SQL Server community. Jen has presented at TechEd North America, TechEd Europe, SQLPass and SQLBits and is the proud host of SQLSaturday Edinburgh.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with or feel free to browse around our site.
Who are DiTBIts? Take a look here.

PASS BA Conference: Interview with the PASS Board

I was lucky enough to interview Bill Graziano and Douglas McDowell, members of the PASS Board in order to have a chat with them about the PASS BA Conference. I’ve detailed the conversation here. I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Bill and Douglas, and the rest of the PASS team who took time out of their day in order to spend time with myself and the other bloggers.
Before we proceed, I’m British and spell organisation with an ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’ – a number of the PASS BA Conference attendees came up to speak with me about my British spelling in my presentations, and it really made me smile! Therefore, this blog will continue my tradition of British spellings!

What was the purpose of the PASS Business Analytics conference?  
The conference is aimed at the Business Analysts who want to be leaders in their discipline. Business Analysts, like the rest of the data community, are people to feel included as part of a community. If you touch data, you should be here! 62% of attendees have never been to a PASS event before – this is an awesome achievement for PASS towards building a new community of Business Analysts.
PASS is responding to a need in the Business Analytics community for knowledge, support, networking and training. Although PASS facilitate community events such as SQLSaturday events and so on, the content is determined by the community – in other words, what do people want to see? There is a real thirst for people to have Business Analytics information and a community, and PASS is meeting that demand.
What will people take away from the PASS BA Conference?

Knowledge of new technologies as well as discussions of business strategy. There are also plenty of case studies in specific domains, such as social media data analysis and even sports data analysis!
One interesting thing that was noted during the discussion was the sheer breadth of conversations that were held at the PASS BA Conference. It seemed a broad mix of IT and Business oriented people, and it was great to hear people sharing insights about what would be useful to them. Often it can be difficult for the IT folks to understand what the Business folks are doing and why – and vice versa. It seemed as if the ‘sidebar’ conversations went mainstream; one common theme was the difficulties in intra-organisational communication between technical and business departments.  One of the interesting things for me is that some of the attendees seemed to take away more than knowledge; they took away a multi-faceted perspective of looking at the same ‘business’ problem with different eyes.
So, what was the audience profile of people attending a BA conference? The majority of ‘job roles’ were ‘Business Analysts’, who constituted 40% of the audience. These people were business-oriented in a LOB role. 
The Business Analyst role constitutes a variety of roles, and it can be target a breadth of roles that’s pertinent to Business Analytics. So, what is Business Analytics?

It means different things to different people. Positioning it was quite hard. 
How do you concisely package it? If we look at Gartner continuum, we can see that Business Intelligence is diagnostic, and answers the question ‘what happened’? Business Analytics, on the other hand, is prescriptive. It asks the question ‘What do I need to do in order to effect an organisational change?’ 
Why did you choose the name ‘Business Analytics’?
Future messaging of the PASS BA Conference will get tighter, but it is difficult to pin down when there are so many buzzwords! Business Analytics as a term, however, is durable – it’s about adding value to your data. As technologies move and shift, the topic mix will change over time.
How can people continue to engage once the PASS BA Conference is over?

Given that 500 people were completely new to PASS as an organisation, there are plenty of opportunities for people to start up their own User Group, for example. Hopefully you’ll see a BA user group starting near you! There will be separate needs for different parts of the community, and it is natural that this will evolve over time. 
Virtual chapters can be one way to engage, and I’d personally encourage people to join up.

PASSBAC keynote: The Microsoft data story, and the next chapters

I attended the keynote from the PASS Business Analytics Conference in Chicago, April 2013. For those of you who missed it, here is some of the content of the keynote.
The take away point is that Business Intelligence must be simple. It is important to make it fun, and we are drowning in data. Not being able to read and understand data, is like being disadvantaged in today’s world. We have to move beyond what we now think about Business Intelligence. We have to get inside our data. 

The keynote was opened by Bill Graziano ( twitter ¦ website ) who underlined the importance for a need amongst Business Analytics professionals for knowledge and support. PASS is helping to formulate a community of Data Professionals. If you’re a Business Analytics  professional, you can be a part of the shaping of this community and be a part in it. If this interests you, could can take a look at joining up a Virtual Chapter and receive monthly webcasts, for example. This can help you to stay connected once PASSBAC is finished.
Next, we had Dell appearing. They have over 15 years of IM software experience. 

Dell has over 15 years of IM software experience, after their purchase of @Quest, for example. Dell constantly monitor their own brand in social media. For example, they have 6 years experience in watching their brand online, and anticipating with customers from a support and brand engagement perspective. They made the following observations in the social media market:

Dell’s Observations
Data Type Proliferation
Vendor Proliferation
Data-Location proliferation
IT and LOB challenges
Snap into existing environments

Given these observations, they then moved to address these points in the market:

Analysis of social media needed to be:
Data-Type Agnostic
Vendor Agnostic
Data-Location Agnostic
Capability needs to be at the tools layer

The takeaway point from the Dell part of the keynote is: Make the hard things simple to allow for more collaboration, exploration, analysis and communication
The final part of the keynote was presented by Amir Netz, who is a Distinguished Technical Fellow at Microsoft. The few times I’ve been lucky enough to speak with Amir in person, I’ve found him to be a very approachable and fun guy, and this came across clearly in the keynote, which was probably the most engaging I’ve seen (and I see a lot!) Netz was accompanied by Kamil Hathi who knows his stuff inside out and is a ‘go to’ expert for Analysis Services. I was really excited about this keynote since, whilst individually they are both excellent speakers, the idea of a joint presentation sounded fun and informative. They started off by emphasising how ‘simple’ attracts people. The strategy is to go back to Excel, thereby capturing the simplicity once again.  
How can we make the spreadsheet really interesting again? Well, we can add in lots of unstructured data! To do this, we can use Hadoop, which is a file system, essentially a shoebox of unstructured data. A lot of data, all different kinds! Using Hadoop, you can easily transform the unstructured data. Structure on extraction, rather than a structured data model before extraction. Therefore, you’re not imposing a structure on data that the ETL meets via the load; you’re structuring the data once it is in Hadoop.

The team then did a great demo of PowerView using data from a dataset of music and songs. We learned that Mariah Carey has had more weeks in the charts than luminaries such as Elvis, the Beatles and U2.
This showed the power of the interaction of the data. In Amir’s example, the kids had fun learning about their music idols. This was easily demonstrated in the keynote audience, who were cheerfully shouting out band names. We heard all sorts of names being shouted out: Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Madonna and even Milli Vanilli!

Power View is all about sharing information, and having fun with the data. 
Business Intelligence is elective – nobody forces an organisation to use Business Intelligence. It is about time management, and how much time people spend on Business Intelligence.
However, business intelligence can be fun can help you to get the ROI because it means that people will use it, and learn from it. Fun is important, and success is infectious.
It has to be more than fun, but it is a good starting place.  We can use it to start more investigations, and then lead to deeper questions.
The team then did a deeper exploration using Power View for sentiment analysis with Twitter data. Sentiment used as a means of prediction of outcomes. If you’d like to know more about this, I’ve written a two part MSDN article on the topic.

The most exciting part was the announcement of Codename Geoflow, which allows you to do location sensitive content to your data. In other words, it allows you to create 3D data visualisations based on maps. You have to see it to believe it, and if you’re looking for #Geoflow information, here you are … #PASSBAC #SQLBits #SQLPass #SQLFAQ
Amir did a great demo to show the changes in the ‘music chart songs’ data over time and over place. It is a wonderful story, brought to life by #Geoflow. it also looked great on the huge 81 inch touchscreen, and its a great way to drive visualisations of data. At the PASS BA Conference, we will be lucky enough to have the Microsoft Experience lounge, where we can go and try all of this gadgetry out! Like Amir says, it has to be fun too.

We don’t just think about business. Business Intelligence could also be called basic intelligence, but to achieve it, we need to get inside our data and let people work with it in familiar tools. 
This is the Microsoft story, and I’m excited to see the next chapter for our business users.

Getting ready for PASS BA Analytics fun!

Have you got your Guidebook for the PASS BA Conference yet? Download the PASS BA Conference Mobile Program Guide to get up-to-date program details, maps, special events information, and last-minute updates on your phone or mobile device. Click here to download the free Guidebook app or get instructions on how to view it from your mobile browser.  I’ve downloaded mine, and bookmarked the sessions which I’m attending.

My session are as follows so I hope to see you there!

Breakout Session (60 minutes):
  • Data Visualization with Power View and the Tabular Model (Advanced Analytics and Insights) on Friday at 10am in room Chicago 10
    My Friday session is straight after Dr. Steven Levitt’s Keynote speech, which is in the Ballroom on Level 4 on Friday at 8am. You’ll know Freakonomics, which Dr Levitt co-authored. Now he is going to be a really tough act to follow, but I hope you will enjoy my session all the same!

SQLSentry Sponsored Breakfast 

On Thursday 7am – 7.45am, I’m pleased to be participating in a panel discussion, with a hot breakfast kindly supplied by SQL Sentry. We will be talking Operational Excellence for the Business Intelligence Professional, and it will be a great discussion. I hope to see you there!

What will we be talking about? Here are some thoughts: How do the most difficult BI projects meet tight deadlines, stringent requirements, and tough budgets?  What do the most effective BI and BA teams do differently to ensure that their projects are a success and that their operations run smoothly?  When do the leaders of BI and BA teams choose political interactions instead of technological interactions to ensure that they are successful?

Moderated by former PASS President, Kevin Kline, and featuring a panel composed of the industry’s top BI experts, you’ll find out the answer to all of these questions and more by joining us for this all-discussion panel, of which I’m honoured to be a part.  See you there!

Up and coming PASS BA Sessions, and Data Visualisation and Microsoft Workshops

If you’re here looking for precon notes, I will be posting these up in the next few weeks after I’ve finished my precons at SQLSaturday Denmark, Databasedays Switzerland and SQLBits in Nottingham, UK. So please keep checking back, or email me at 

I’m delighted and proud to be presenting at the PASS Business Analytics Conference this week, in Chicago, Illinios, on 11th and 12th April. 

I love SQLPass Summit, and it is one of the highlights of my year. The Business Analytics conference is happening for the first time, and I can’t wait to meet the new #SQLFamily – or should that be #PASSBAFamily – that I will meet! I’m already making arrangements to meet fellow BA and Twitterati ‘in person’, which is one of my personal favourite things to do! See you there!

I’m pleased and proud to be presenting a preconference training in the Denmark in April 19th at the Microsoft Offices in Hellerup, Denmark, and a workshop in Pfaffikon, Switzerland.

With respect to Denmark, in case you’re not familiar, SQLSaturday events are often accompanied by one-day, very reasonably priced community training days.  This means that attendees get a deep-dive training day on a specialised subject on the Friday Preconference training day, as well as being able to attend the range  of sessions on the main SQLSaturday event.

The precon I’m delivering is an in-depth day, which is aimed at Business Intelligence specialists who focus on front-end reporting. We will be looking at some of the ‘new toys’ in the SQL Server 2012 toolbox, as well as having a fresh look at old favourites such as SQL Server Reporting Services.

Our data source is the Tabular Model.  I’m seeing more traction of the Tabular model at customer sites, but not everyone has had the chance to play with it yet. Therefore, I thought it worthwhile to use the Tabular model as a data source, in order to expose its usefulness to a wider audience. 
To register for the Denmark event, please click here
I’m holding a Data Visualisation workshop in Switzerland on 17th April.  

If you want to conduct advanced, business-oriented Business Intelligence analysis in SQL Server 2012, then it is essential to understand data visualisation. This session is aimed at developers who want to make informed data visualisation decisions about reporting, with supporting cognitive psychology theory where relevant.
The takeaways will focus on:
  • Introduction: Finding patterns in the data.
  • Further Data Visualisations: learn about visualisations that are perhaps not so well-known. This includes Stephen Few’s bullet charts and Tufte’s Sparklines in SSRS.
  • Multivariate data: We will cover the complexities of displaying multivariate data since is potentially more complex by visualisations. For example, we will look at Tufte’s “small multiples” in Power View and in Reporting Services.
  • Putting it all together: Considerations for Dashboards. This workshop aims to deliver a breadth of data visualisation knowledge, underpinned by cognitive psychology theory to provide deeper understanding.

To register for DatabaseDays, please go to

Last but not least, I’m holding a preconference training day at SQLBits in Nottingham, United Kingdom, on Thursday 2nd May. SQLBits is one of my favourite events, and I’m very glad to be going back to my roots after having been far travelled this year so far!
If you’d like to register for the SQLBits precon, the Training Day link is here. I hope to see you there! 

Power View error: There are no addresses available for this application

Whilst doing a demo, I noted that running Power View on SharePoint gave the following error message:
Microsoft.SharePoint.SPEndpointAddressNotFoundException: There are no addresses available for this application.
There are two steps to resolving this issue:
1. Using the Central Admin on Sharepoint, check the services running on the server.
Go to Central Admin > Application Management > Manage Services on Server
Check if your services have stopped, particularly the ‘SQL Server Reporting Services Service’. Also, take a look at the ‘Managed Metadata’ or ‘User Profile’ services. 
2. Once you’ve reviewed the services, you might need to do perform an IISReset command
I hope that helps!