Jen’s Diary – Time to Answer, or Time to Question? Plus some EMEA thoughts

Hello again,

As always, I do not speak officially for PASS. This is my diary, and a bit of a brain dump.

I’m as busy as ever with PASS Business Analytics Conference, and things are going well. I’m helping to socialize the information about BAC, and I’m dealing informally with sponsors and community members and speakers, in the run up to the event. I’m starting to think about how we continue the BA conversation post-BAC, and there will be more of this discussion in the future. As well as PASS BAC, I am the lead organizer of SQLSaturday Edinburgh, Business Intelligence edition. If you are interested, take a look at our schedule and you will start to see the difference between the BI edition and the normal, full-fat SQLSaturday. There is a focus on data, and in the case of my SQLSaturday Edinburgh BI edition, we are looking at data across traditional Product Groups. Therefore, we have C#, CRM, Access, Visio and SQL Server MVPs speaking, as well as well-known community SharePoint and Business Analytics speakers.

The underlying focus is on data and analytics, and I know that other SQLSaturday organizers are watching the Edinburgh event with interest to see if this approach resonates with the community. This focus on data and analytics is much more than simply taking SQL Server and Azure topics and jamming some R in there as well; it is perfectly possible to talk about R and not mention statistics or analytics once – R is a very wide technology. Business Analytics for me,  an attitude of taking the business into perspective with a focus on business value, business insights, and actionable takeaways, and the Edinburgh schedule will become more clear on this topic in due course when we release our dedicated Analytics track.

Here is an example: are you interested in time-to-answer, or time-to-question? In Business Intelligence, you are interested in time-to-answer. You write your report, you get your answer, and people want the answer quickly. Business Analytics is about time-to-question, or, more specifically, time from the original question until the time you receive the next business question. You may have an answer, but the business users have another question; so in this case, you are all about shortening the time from the question, until you receive the next question. The questions will be focused on ‘what happened’ but they will also be focused on ‘why’ and ‘what do we do next’? The time-to-question metric will also take into account the fact that you are making predictions on your data, which feeds into the next question that the business will ask. Notice that I haven’t mentioned technology here; technology-focused sessions aren’t always Business Analytics presentations because they will be focused on technology ‘time to answer’ topics rather than business focused ‘time to question’ topics. So, R != Business Analytics, for example – it is about the business question you are asking, not the technology you are using.

If you are interested in attending PASS Business Analytics Conference, I have the biggest discounts 🙂 so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Love and friendship,

Jen Stirrup

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