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!

Is the MVP Program becoming less technical?

Alt Title: how did you get to be an MVP, Jen Stirrup?

The skinny answer: I think it’s changed to reflect the times. It’s Microsoft’s Award to give or take away at any point. I am going to have some fun here, and I’d like you to join me.

zx81Full fat: Something I’ve heard occasionally, is the following question: Isn’t the MVP Program becoming less technical?  Certainly, the criticism that I’m not technical has been levied at me quite often. I’m not worried: I am going to let karma sort that out, but in the meantime, I’m going to talk about me for a little bit, and stick to the facts. You decide. I’ll comment at the end, and you can comment, too.

Early career

bill_gates_tandy2000I taught myself to program in BASIC when I was eight years old, on a ZX81 computer which my uncle fixed. My uncle Jim fixed stuff from Tandy (Radio Shack) for a living, and the little ZX81 was considered too sickly to be resuscitated.

 

 

frontcvrMy uncle and my dad had another go at giving it some life, and lo and behold, the ZX81 was reborn and I adopted it. I got a cassette player and loaded games carefully. I learned to program. I LOVED it. Forget Malory Towers and all that Enid Blyton stuff, I read the ZX81 manual cover to cover and I talked a lot about sixteen fingered martians at school.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, nobody talked back to me. Let’s put it plainly, I was one weird eight year old girl.

So, I rocked high school, becoming the first girl school Latin prize winner, winning the Business Studies prize. I was happy but pretty lonely. I went on to do an additional Latin class at school; that’s how much fun I was.

9b1453d9467dabd86da830c4bb22279dI went to Glasgow University, my alma mater, and it changed my life for the better. I had friends who loved knowledge as much as I did. They now sing for Belle and Sebastian and they rock, quite literally. Go and listen.

So, life moved on and I rocked Psychology; I became an expert in Psyscope  which I learned to program psychology experiments on a Mac.

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I grew in SPSS expertise, again on a Mac.

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Artificial Intelligence career

I moved to France where I studied Artificial Intelligence in a joint effort between the L’université Pierre et Marie Curie – UPMC and Aberdeen University in Scotland.

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Then I decided to pay back my debt to society and actually do some work.

I started off my career as an Artificial Intelligence Consultant, delivering natural language processing solutions for what is now the Brightware Natural Language Processor that belongs to Oracle. Then, I moved into intelligent call handling as a Cisco engineer focused on the Cisco Intelligent Call Manager, which is now Cisco Unified Intelligent Contact Management, and my focus was on the Enterprise Edition. I learned about networks, racks, data centers and implemented early VoIP. So, if you have listened to an IVR for Vodafone, that may well have been implemented by me. Sorry about that.

Oh, and these were very male dominated. #JustSaying

As a pregnant woman visiting the Cisco offices, the Cisco receptionists ran after me all day, super excited. I don’t think they’d seen a pregnant Cisco engineer very often. There were no queues for the loo. Just as well. My unborn son chose that particular conference to stamp on my bladder all day.

Business Intelligence career

As an artificial intelligence consultant, I was used to pulling around a lot of data, and coding in Artificial Intelligence languages (which require a lot of memory management, BTW). I used Prolog, Art Enterprise which is a proprietary edition which is a lot like LISP. As an aside, Emacs was for softies, and that was about as visual as it got.

I was the Oracle guru in my office, having learned it before it had a GUI that required 32-bit screen drivers. I didn’t have a screen with 32-bit drivers, so I did it it notepad, yass! Tnsnames.ora, people. Eventually I got screens with drivers, and lo and behold, I used the Oracle GUI for the first time.

71mye27mpplCustomers started to use SQL Server so I learned that; version 6.5, people. This edition has a foreword by Professor Jim Gray.

So, I learned SQL, MDX, then DAX.

Excel. Tableau. PerformancePoint. SharePoint. Sybase. Azure.

And I just kept going. I started talking about tech. I was already used to explaining difficult AI concepts to business users, and decision makers, so I decided to go on the speaking circuit. And I spoke everywhere; so far, I have presented in four of the seven continents.

And now life is full circle. Artificial Intelligence is cool again, and I have lived through an entire IT lifecycle. It has so much potential, as it did then, but now we have shiny stuff too. I was introduced to IoT. I have used my existing skill sets to morph into new things: so, my knowledge of SQL helped me to pick up Azure Streaming Analytics. Then, I had to learn about coding again to understand why some Event Hub stuff, a smell I’d inherited, was not working as expected, and learn about it to help get it to meet the requirements and it was fixed. Some things never change; badly commented code with spelling mistakes isn’t confidence inspiring now, as it wasn’t when I started my early career, nearly twenty years ago. Truth is, I can do all sorts of things where I have to do it, and I’ve got ownership of the problem. And I share my expertise here, online or in person, and at events. I also organise events; PASS Business Analytics, and SQLSaturday Edinburgh, London Power BI Days and I am a co-organiser of the London Power BI User Group.

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What is an MVP, anyway?

What is an MVP? According to Microsoft, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community. They are always on the “bleeding edge” and have an unstoppable urge to get their hands on new, exciting technologies. They have very deep knowledge of Microsoft products and services, while also being able to bring together diverse platforms, products and solutions, to solve real world problems. MVPs are driven by their passion, community spirit and their quest for knowledge. Above all and in addition to their amazing technical abilities, MVPs are always willing to help others – that’s what sets them apart.

So, back the original point:

  • Is the MVP Program becoming less technical?
  • Alt Title: how did you get to be an MVP, Jen Stirrup?

Is the MVP Program becoming less technical?

netscape9logoI think that the MVP program, nearly quarter of a century old now, is changing to reflect the industry. We no longer use Emacs or vi. LISP was originally specified in 1958, and it is the second-oldest high-level programming language in widespread use today. Only Fortran is older, by one year.  Netscape Navigator is still around, but you’d be crazy to stick with it.

 

How did you get to be an MVP, Jen Stirrup?

You are reading the blog of a woman who has failed many times to get any success at all.

The ability for someone to pull you down with the comment ‘Well, you’re not technical’ or however it is wrapped up in a ‘posy’, it sideswipes all of these achievements. I have heard this many times before, and I did have many failures to get there. I think what the underlying statement really means is the following statement: ‘I am technical because I stated that you are not. I decide.

Now, I’ve been an MVP for six years. I still hear this coming up, and it doesn’t matter how many postgraduate degrees I get in Artificial Intelligence which I did in French, people; or related disciplines such Cognitive Science at Birmingham University under the tutelage of Professor Aaron Sloman (yes, him! It was my absolute privilege to do my postgraduate work with him) and so on, or the fact that I’ve been delivering technical projects worldwide since 1998.

When I look at my career trajectory, I can see that I do some of these things stated on the MVP award, and I emphasise different things at different points.So, over the rest of the year, I am speaking at SatRDay Budapest, Microsoft Ignite, Creativity+Science, PASS Summit, Live 360 (get your discount here!). Over the course of 2016, I have travelled to India twice to hold Azure Architecture courses, and I spoke at SQL Server Geeks (fantastic conference!), PASS Business Analytics (which I spearheaded as part of the PASS Board, holding the Business Analytics Portfolio), Future Decoded and SQLBits .

I do bring together diverse platforms; one of my projects is up on the BBC website. Super proud! I’m also spearheading Thought Leadership podcasts for PASS because I believe that there is a nexus between IT and the business, and PASS can bridge that need. It’s a manifestation of what I’m doing for my day job at Data Relish Ltd, much of which is NDA but I can express my knowledge through spearheading this initiative. So I do help people via my blog, online content, speaking, webinars, and being on the PASS Board.

I think that the beauty of the MVP program is its variety. It has room for the nerdy coder as well as me, and it gives the nerdy coder the opportunity to contribute, as well as me, too. Nowadays, I work with others to produce Digital Transformation programs which look at everything from a future vision to generating business cases, costings, and working with infrastructure people to see how the technology will hang together at a very detailed level. I can go up to the birds eye level, or swoop down to the detail. This can include Big Data one day, or writing MDX the next. I love the challenge and the variety, and it suits me incredibly well.

Yes, but is it less technical than it used to be?

It depends (sorry! MVP Answer alert!) on what you mean by technical.  I think it’s easy for people to say that because I don’t regularly write code, that I am not technical, and to be dismissive of my achievements. I can write code, and I do. I just choose not to do it on a daily basis. I like the challenge of taking a whole estate, and seeing the transformation throughout the whole business. These changes affect people, process, technology and data.

I love seeing Big Results with Big Data and Little Data

Regardless of whether I will remain an MVP or not, I will cherish the time that I have been given this Award. I love my work and I love what I do.  I wonder if it is a zero sum game; and eventually, my time will be up and it will be someone else’s chance. The program will survive without me, and I will go on to love what I do and live life as an MVP alumni.

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What’s next for me? Well, I have got a place to do my MBA, and I am hiring someone to help me to take over some commitments whilst I drop some things to do that. I will write more about that later, but, for now, salve!

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Jen’s PASS Diary: Two Pillars for Leadership

As always, I don’t represent PASS. Here are my two pillars:

Say Thank You.

The number one item is to say ‘Thank You’ to people for their efforts, even if you don’t like what they did. They are on a path; and so are you. Saying Thank You is the glue to healthy communities, particularly on social media.  The duties of gratitude are perhaps the most sacred of those which the beneficent virtues prescribe to us. (18th Century Scottish economist and philosopher, Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759)

Empirical science agrees: gratitude, even a simple “thank you”, is a basis of leadership; without it, you can’t lead effectively. People will remember that they didn’t get a Thank You. I hear this often from volunteers, unfortunately, and it’s fairly universal across geographies and events, both within and outside of SQLFamily. Say it, and mean it. I don’t hold to Machiavelli’s maxim, written in the 16th Century: It is better to be feared than loved.

Expect criticism, both justified and unjustified.

I’ve taken a lot from John Donne’s 17th Century poem, the Prohibition. Here is an excerpt:

Take heed of hating me,
Or too much triumph in the victory ;
Not that I shall be mine own officer,
And hate with hate again retaliate ;
But thou wilt lose the style of conqueror,
If I, thy conquest, perish by thy hate.
Then, lest my being nothing lessen thee,
If thou hate me, take heed of hating me.

Donne was a metaphysical poet and you can take from this poem what you will.

One aspect for me is being isolated; outside a circle of friends, family, community, whatever you want to call it. When people criticise, occasionally, what they can actually mean is: I said that you were x, and that means that I must be, by definition, y. Example: you’re not a team player (because I said this, this must mean that I am a team player), you are not good at a particular thing (because I said this, that must mean that I am good at it). This means that they have the ‘style of conqueror’ because I give them something to point at, and therefore, I serve a purpose. When you recast criticism into these terms, suddenly, it becomes much less meaningful and what you realise is that you need to stay true to yourself, and not ‘hate with hate retaliate’. Really, it’s not worth it. The real trick is to work out whether it’s valid criticism or not, and look at the motivation.

So, what have I been working on?

I pulled two nighters, to try and pull together a draft strategy for PASS Business Analytics. At 43 years old, I thought that my days of working right through the night were over; well, they are not. I don’t believe that anyone else does this, particularly not for a volunteer role, and I thought I’d point it out here to show the level of commitment I have to the community.

Now that we are not doing a full PASS Business Analytics Conference in 2017, people must be wondering what we are doing next, and what the strategy is? Well, I am trying my best to define it and we will release when we have agreed and signed it off. This is going to take some time, unfortunately. Business Analytics touches all parts of PASS: finance, marketing, and the other Portfolios will also have input. We will also need to have an eye on things globally.  I’m also working on a few other things. I am doing Thought Leadership podcasts and if you want to give me a podcast, then please get in touch!

I am assisting some of the sponsors at the moment; I won’t say whom, at this point. Basically, I want them to have a good experience of dealing with PASS, and me personally of course, so I am trying to juggle to make sure that everything works out well for them. I am not a great fan of the word ‘sponsor’ – personally, I prefer ‘Partner’. It feels more equitable.

Given that I have a good pillar and a bad pillar of Leadership, and this is a ton of hard work, why am I doing it? Well, it really is lonely at the top, even if you don’t see that you are at the top of anything at all, others do, and that’s when it starts.

Truth is, I have learned a lot of lessons, certainly more than just two! and I’m left with very few real friends. Now, the thing is, when you realise that you have really nobody left, then it actually gives you a certain freedom and a latitude. That realisation is a gift. Along with that gift, I’ve come to withstand criticism a lot better, but it’s also made me determined that I will not ‘hate with hate again retaliate’. People’s actions speak for themselves, and I don’t need to say a single word about it. I will just continue to try to do good things, and hopefully you will join me on the way.

I think that you put into it, what you get out of it. It’s not all bad. I have met some wonderful people who continue to shine a light out. To them, I say Thank You. Some people have got Thank Yous coming their way, and I will let them know that they are heartfelt.

With leadership, you have to stick true to yourself because, actually, it’s the only way to be. I think that these two pillars feed into that, for me. What do you think?

I keep this diary so that you come on a journey with me, and I wonder if you’d reach the same conclusions? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Love,

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen’s PASS Diary: BA Portfolio thoughts, please

As always, this isn’t an official PASS blog post, but one of my braindumps.

In a nutshell, I want to pick community brains. Don’t think analytics isn’t relevant to you, if you’re a DBA: without DBAs, there is no Data Science or Business Analytics. Your input is valuable.

You will have seen the latest blog post from PASS about the strategic direction of PASS Business Analytics conference. If not here, are a few key takeaway quotes:

“The heart of the plan moving forward is community growth, with a focus on expanding outreach to increase visibility, by strengthening local groups, and broadening the scope of our analytics community globally.”

“Business Analytics is a natural extension for PASS. We are committed to helping data professionals connect, share, and learn, whether they work in IT or in the business. We are very excited about the opportunities ahead and look forward to the continued growth and success in the area of Business Analytics.”

I’ve put together a plan of how that might shape up, but I need your help and ideas so that I can do the best job that I can.  for the people who put their faith in me when they voted for me to be on the PASS Board. You’ll see from the post that more than 25,000 PASS members from around the world identifying a professional interest in BA so that’s a lot of people to serve, so that they can connect, learn and share.

I still believe that the industry has got to the point where organisations are either crossing the Rubicon, or sitting on the Acheron where it comes to analytics and making the most of their data.

So tell me: what would you like to see, preferably with an emphasis on something ‘actionable’ that I can deliver? How can I best help you? What do you think would work? Wouldn’t work?

I’ll be releasing a vlog which outlines some of my thoughts and perspectives, in the near future. It will be my first attempt at a vlog and I’ll be happy for any tips too, so I can make that successful.

Here are some contact details:

email: jen.stirrup@datarelish.com

comments box below

twitter: @jenstirrup

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jenstirrup to connect

Now, I used to offer to do phone calls and GoToMeeting meetings. However, as many of you will know, I have had to close my Skype account and change my phone number due to various threats, which I reported to the police at the time. Note that these were not vague phone calls: at their height, I was receiving threatening phone calls at a rate of one every two minutes from a variety of phone numbers, day and night across timezones. Some people clearly have a lot of time on their hands. Although that has stopped, mainly because I have changed my details, I am reluctant to hand out these details.

If you’d like to talk, then you can contact me personally so that I go through a process to ‘verify’ you if I don’t know you, and then we will try to arrange something. I am sorry about the extra hoops but I need to protect myself as well as try to help people in the community.

Thank you again; I do appreciate it. I am humble enough to recognise that there is more brain power out there than simply mine. I can’t do everything myself, and I need help to ‘scale’. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

Jen

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Red hair and a teapot dress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen’s PASS Diary: The Happy Prince and the Swallow

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Picture Credit: checanty

Oscar Wilde was well known for his writing for adults, but he’s probably less well known for his excellent children’s writing, too. He tackles strong themes, and they are well worth the read for adults as well as children. In one short story, The Happy Prince, Wilde writes a rather sad tale about a statue of a Happy Prince, who is somewhat misnamed because he’s never really known true happiness. In the tale, there is a swallow who was left behind after his flock flew off to Egypt. Saddened by what he saw around him, The Happy Prince tasked the swallow with giving everyone the jewels of himself, until, eventually, there was only the basic iron left. The swallow flies around, giving out the precious stones in the statue, but eventually dies, breaking the Happy Prince’s heart. There’s more to it than that, and it’s a sad tale, and for various reasons it has always been special to me.

I think that being on the PASS Board is a bit like being both the Happy Prince and the Swallow. Like everyone, I have talents, experience and wisdom in some areas, and not others. I happen to try to use my talents, small as they are, for the benefit of SQLFamily. I have won both of my PASS elections outright as the winner with the most votes. This means that SQLFamily gave me a position, but also a mandate to try and help the community via PASS. I am a volunteer and I try my best, and I give my ‘jewels’ away for free where I think they are best needing to be spent, and I am also the messenger that takes them there.

It’s a lot of work, however, inside the tent. I’d like to explain a little about how much effort I put in normally. Since I’m in Europe, attending PASS calls means that I’m on the phone late in the evenings. If I have a few calls a week, then that takes out a few of my evenings. It all adds up, and anyone in IT knows it’s not just about the meeting, there is work outside of that as well. If I was based in the US, I’d take the calls during my working day; however, it’s a different story when you have your evenings taken out. I’m just putting that here so people understand that being on the Board, from this part of the world, is actually a huge commitment and this is my third year of doing it. Fortunately I am single so it’s not impacting time with a spouse, although it does impact my newly-found Netflix addiction.

What am I working on? A few things:

There’s a difference between PASS BA the event, and PASS BA the strategy. Both require a lot of work. Vision is ‘why’, strategy is ‘what’, and execution is ‘how’. The strategy is a follow on from a vision, a mission statement of where PASS would like to go. This diagram might help, and I sit along all three of these elements:

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Credit: Goulston Group‘s image.

The PASS Mission Statement has to translate into a strategy, which then translates into execution plans. Execution is crucial, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for a strategy. A strategy is all about making a decision about where to play, and the way to play. A strategy tackles more fundamental questions:

  1. What organisation should PASS be?
  2. How does this add value to PASS?
  3. Who are the target audience for the PASS BA proposition?
  4. What are your value propositions for the BA audience?
  5. What capabilities are essential to adding value to the PASS BA organisation, and differentiating their value proposition?

In future blog posts, I will try to speak to each of these questions from my input as the PASS Business Analytics portfolio holder. A strategy provides a foundation for decision-making. It’s a garden for growth and where to cut costs, and determining priorities. The strategy gives a signpost and a guide to prevent drift, or scope creep. Personally, I have never seen scope ‘creep’ – it usually gallops! So there is a lot to think about, as I try to help PASS continue to be successful, and move forward to further success.

A strategy is particularly critical in volatile environments, and there is none more volatile than the world of data at the moment. You just need to see the Apache top level projects at the moment. Apache Spark is à la mode, but now there is also Apache Flink and Apache Arrow to consider, which also play in some of Spark’s space. Also, you could consider Apache Apex which is designed to improve the performance and speed of big data components that work together as part of a larger system. How would an architect decide, and put these bits together?

I am continuing to make sure that my voice is heard and I’ve already made the following points:

  • Strategy – I have been working a lot on the PASS BA strategy. More details on this will be ongoing, but here are some details which I’ve previously posted. I’m supporting the team as we move forward to tell our story, and that’s involved a lot of research and teamwork. Thank you Teresa C for your help 🙂
  • PASS are working on the BA Marathon, as promised in the last blog post. I’ve been having input on that.
  • I’ve raised the question of greater engagement and activity outside of the US. I’ve sent through my thoughts and ideas, and hopefully that will lead into more growth in that area, through strategy and execution. This is crucial; growing PASS will mean greater support and engagement outside of the US. My EMEA seat is supposed to give the ‘voice’ outside of the US to the rest of the Board, and I’ve already made these points on a number of occasion. In my own capacity, I spoke at SQLSaturday Vienna, SQLBits and I’m speaking at SQLSaturday Paris and SQLSaturday Dublin in June. I’m also speaking at Digital Pragmatism: Delivering Real World Improvements in Mental Health. I also spoke at Microsoft TechDays, a UK event.
  • Also, I’m supporting SQL Server Geeks in my own capacity and I’m delivering a precon for the team out there in India to help support their wonderful event and community. How much do I believe in the SQL Server Geeks event? I have 100% faith in the team out there – and SQL Server Geeks is going to be the highlight of my year.I’m delighted to see the growth in the community there. Amit Bansal, Manohar Punna and the team are doing a wonderful job. Pinal Dave runs a wonderful blog out of India. These are only a few people in that part of the world who are doing wonderful things, and they all contribute to make the Data Platform world better, both in person and online.

So, that’s a roundup. As always, please feel free to get in touch at jen.stirrup@sqlpass.org

 

 

 

 

 

The world of Analytics: are you crossing the Rubicon or sitting on the Acheron?

d1e285a119ddeb540bfd58333b40512049 years BC, the commander of the 13th Legion stood at the River Rubicon, and paused. The dilemma was over whether or not to enter Italy. for a man who had built a career on surmounting crisis point over crisis point, this move would change the Roman world forever. Taking the army into Italy, and onto Rome, was an act of treason against the Roman Republic. At the time, generals were forced to disband their armies before entering Italy, since they were not allowed to hold imperium, or right to command, which belonged to Roman Governors. By crossing the Rubicon, Julius Caesar was taking imperium illegally, and would cause civil war. With the words alea iacta est, (the die is cast),  Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the world of data, we have crossed the Rubicon which now includes analytics; both streaming, real time analytics as well as longer-term business analytics. There is a world of hype out there – big data? Fast Data? Bueller? Bueller? The industry is moving so fast, it’s hard to know what technology to throw your career behind. However, some things will stay the same, in spite of technology. Intellectual curiosity. Business Acumen. Critical thinking. Communication. Data skills. Data cleansing. The ability to question what you are told. Other skills: R. Statistics. Numeracy. SQL.

However, just because things are moving fast, it does not mean that we can ignore it. It’s easy to take the safe option and say that it’s better to wait until the industry slows down so we can see the embers of what’s left, and then take a decision. This is akin to sitting on the banks of the Acheron. According to Greek mythology and Homer’s poems, the Acheron is one of the five rivers of the Underworld. In Dante’s Inferno, here’s a quote from Canto 3:

On the other side of Acheron lies Limbo and the court of King Minos. Charon ferries the shades of the damned across the Acheron. A dreary fog hangs over the water, and lightning strikes light up the sky above it. On its shores lie those who lived with neither infamy or praise, denied entry into the Inferno or Paradise.

For those who do wait and nothing, they are seated on the banks of the Acheron, which is viewed as a marginal place.

In this world of data-driven analytics, organisations can’t afford to sit on the Acheron; the Rubicon has already been crossed, and organisations need to get their feet wet.

This is why the PASS strategy on Business Analytics is so crucial – we are doing something to be part of this world. PASS are not sitting on the Acheron but instead, PASS are crossing the Rubicon to be part of this new world. It’s important to separate the strategy of Business Analytics from the execution of one Business Analytics event; the strategy is a forward thinking vision, and you can read more set out it here.

More than ever, PASS has to keep up with the data world, and move fast and nimbly in order to support the community’s growing needs.Yes, sure, there is hype; but the people still need to learn to navigate the hype to make the principles and strucures of analytical thinking and the data world actionable and relevant to their organisations. Connect, learn, share… right?

PASS are getting their feet wet by serving this new community, as well as supporting the existing community. Is it a brave thing? Yes. My contact details are here, and I look forward to hearing from you. I don’t speak for PASS officially since I’m not on the Exec, but I hope you’ve found this background to be useful in understanding the strategy context.