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!

Guess who is appearing in Joseph Sirosh’s PASS Keynote?

This girl! I am super excited and please allow me to have one little SQUUEEEEEEE! before I tell you what’s happening. Now, this is a lifetime achievement for me, and I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely and deeply honoured I am. I am still in shock!

I am working really hard on my demo and….. I am not going to tell you what it is. You’ll have to watch it. Ok, enough about me and all I’ll say is two things: it’s something that’s never been done at PASS Summit before and secondly, watch the keynote because there may be some discussion about….. I can’t tell you what… only that, it’s a must-watch, must-see, must do keynote event.

We are in a new world of Data and Joseph Sirosh and the team are leading the way. Watching the keynote will mean that you get the news as it happens, and it will help you to keep up with the changes. I do have some news about Dr David DeWitt’s Day Two keynote… so keep watching this space. Today I’d like to talk about the Day One keynote with the brilliant Joseph Sirosh, CVP of Microsoft’s Data Group.

Now, if you haven’t seen Joseph Sirosh present before, then you should. I’ve put some of his earlier sessions here and I recommend that you watch them.

Ignite Conference Session

MLDS Atlanta 2016 Keynote

I hear you asking… what am I doing in it? I’m keeping it a surprise! Well, if you read my earlier blog, you’ll know I transitioned from Artificial Intelligence into Business Intelligence and now I do a hybrid of AI and BI. As a Business Intelligence professional, my customers will ask me for advice when they can’t get the data that they want. Over the past few years, the ‘answer’ to their question has gone far, far beyond the usual on-premise SQL Server, Analysis Services, SSRS combo.

We are now in a new world of data. Join in the fun!

Customers sense that there is a new world of data. The ‘answer’ to the question Can you please help me with my data?‘ is complex, varied and it’s very much aimed at cost sensitivities, too. Often, customers struggle with data because they now have a Big Data problem, or a storage problem, or a data visualisation access problem. Azure is very neat because it can cope with all of these issues. Now, my projects are Business Intelligence and Business Analytics projects… but they are also ‘move data to the cloud’ projects in disguise, and that’s in response to the customer need. So if you are Business Intelligence professional, get enthusiastic about the cloud because it really empowers you with a new generation of exciting things you can do to please your users and data consumers.

As a BI or an analytics professional, cloud makes data more interesting and exciting. It means you can have a lot more data, in more shapes and sizes and access it in different ways. It also means that you can focus on what you are good at, and make your data estate even more interesting by augmenting it with cool features in Azure. For example, you could add in more exciting things such as Apache Tika library as a worker role in Azure to crack through PDFs and do interesting things with the data in there. If you bring it into SSIS, then you can tear it up and down again when you don’t need it.

I’d go as far as to say that, if you are in Business Intelligence at the moment, you will need to learn about cloud sooner or later. Eventually, you’re going to run into Big Data issues. Alternatively, your end consumers are going to want their data on a mobile device, and you will want easy solutions to deliver it to them. Customers are interested in analytics and the new world of data and you will need to hop on the Azure bus to be a part of it.

The truth is; Joseph Sirosh’s keynotes always contain amazing demos. (No pressure, Jen, no pressure….. ) Now, it’s important to note that these demos are not ‘smoke and mirrors’….

The future is here, now. You can have this technology too.

It doesn’t take much to get started, and it’s not too far removed from what you have in your organisation. AzureML and Power BI have literally hundreds of examples. I learned AzureML looking at the following book by Wee-Hyong Tok and others, so why not download a free book sample?

https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/card?asin=B00MBL261W&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_c54ayb2VHWST4

How do you proceed? Well, why not try a little homespun POC with some of your own data to learn about it, and then show your boss. I don’t know about you but I learn by breaking things, and I break things all the time when I’m  learning. You could download some Power BI workbooks, use the sample data and then try to recreate them, for example. Or, why not look at the community R Gallery and try to play with the scripts. you broke something? no problem! Just download a fresh copy and try again. You’ll get further next time.

I hope to see you at the PASS keynote! To register, click here: http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2016/Sessions/Keynotes.aspx 

WPC Day One: Translating Digital Transformation into Solutions

I blogged over at my ‘official’ company blog about strategic considerations regarding Digital Transformation. There is a lot of messaging directed at sales, partners and CEO level conversations. For the techies, however, how does the strategy translate into a technical implementation that you can actually deliver, to facilitate Digital Transformation within the organisation? In other words, how do you make solutions that are sustainable and relevant?

Microsoft can help with modern, cloud-based tools and a cloud platform. Partners have the ability to use tools such as Office365, Power BI, Microsoft Flow and AzureML to reduce the integration cost and friction to deliver technical solutions. These partners can speak directly to the digital transformation, and lead it. These tools can form composable units or modules, which can be fitted together to meet business needs directly, thereby facilitating digital transformation.

What are these tools? During the WPC keynote, Ecolabs showed off their solution, which involved Power Bi and Microsoft Flow. Here is the example Microsoft Power BI Solution below:
WPC Day 1 Slides
Microsoft Flow is a new tool, which was used to create some of the workflows to align the productivity processes with the resulting dashboard.

What is Microsoft Flow? Well, it’s a great little app and I think you should take a look. Microsoft Flow allows you to create automated workflows between your business or consumer applications and services and connects them so that you get some action, such as notifications, synchronize files, collect data, and more actions that might be useful to your business.

Why is that useful for a Business Intelligence implementation? Well, it can help to track where your data is going. As someone who often goes into organisations where people have ‘lost’ data or it is hiding somewhere that the business people can’t get it, I see Microsoft Flow as a way forward for Digital Transformation in the business by facilitating the flow of data around the organisation.

You can even create workflows on your mobile device. Here is the Ecolabs example from WPC:
WPC Day 1 Slides
Basically, a Flow connects your web services, files, and cloud-based data to save time and effort for everyone, every day.

It’s good to see that Microsoft are a much more open organisation these days; I think that Microsoft Flow is evidence of the open attitude towards other companies, organisations and methodologies that are outside of the Microsoft corporate boundary. In particular, I am a huge fan of Wunderlist and they mentioned it yesterday during the Day One keynote. I know that Wunderlist have been bought by Microsoft and I hope that Wunderlist will appear in Office365 soon, such as in Outlook.

How does Flow work? Well, you start with a template, which gives you a great head start. Why not give it a blast? If it means you get to use Wunderlist as well for all of your lists, and start to love it, then you can thank me!

 

You could even use Microsoft Flow for new Github issues, and send a notification to Slack. Or perhaps you could use Flow so that you retain Dropbox as your file storage system, integrated with Office365. The examples are endless, I think.

All this shows that the cloud is a great enabler, and a platform, which partners and companies can use in order to make their organisations more productive and collaborative. These are simple examples, and I’m sure that you can think of more! The integrations all happen in the cloud, and it is one way that the cloud can be used as a tool for Digital Transformation.

Any questions, send me an email at hello@datarelish.com.

Kind Regards,

Jen Stirrup

JenStirrup

 

 

5 Things I need you to do if you want me to nominate you for an MVP Award

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It’s great to see so many people want to participate in the MVP Program. I find that I’m being asked fairly frequently at the moment – say, a couple of times a week – by community individuals if I will nominate them.

Here are some disclaimers:

  • I have no influence over the MVP Program at all
  • I consider myself lucky to be part of the Program. It is a gift, not an entitlement, and it can be gone at any time.
  • The people who nominated me were not my friends, apart from one person (thank you Andrew!). These were generous people who gave their time to nominate me, and it turns out I was nominated by a lot of people, over a period of time, before I got the Award.

I tend to be happy to nominate people if they ask me; after all, it’s not my decision and it may be good for the Program as well as the individual. From my experience, it wasn’t my community ‘friends’ who nominated me, it was people who didn’t know me very well but they could see that I was making a positive difference in the community. I see the MVP Award as a ‘golden ticket’ to do even more positive things for the community; it is about being other-centered, and not self-centered, I think.

OutliersI don’t see that I am an expert now I’ve been given an Award. Throughout his book Outliers, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to achieving world class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. What he doesn’t say is the next step: the world is moving so fast, you have to keep working all the time to stay on top. So that means that other things sometimes have to be let go.

My brother, a wise man, once told me that ‘it’s lonely at the top’ when I complained about the number of ‘real’ friends I’d lost, particularly over the past two years. Although I don’t see myself at the top of anything (unless it is a complete mess) I see that, sometimes, other people do; and that’s why they ask for the nomination. If I can inspire someone to do good things for the community, then that’s a good thing for me. In fact, leaders should leave a plan and a structure behind them in their trail; good leaders look at what they leave behind them, as well as looking far forward into the future.

I do nominate people myself, and sometimes I’m lucky that they get the Award after one or more nominations e.g. Stephanie Locke, Mark Wilcock, Ryan Adams and Mark Broadbent, but sometimes I nominate and it doesn’t happen for the nominee. I do try to nominate people who I can see are in my ‘trail’ and hopefully, if anything, my life will serve as a cautionary tale and a ‘teachable moment’ for others.

So, what do I need you to do for me? Tell me, in your own words:

  1. Your community activities. Please list them out for me. Don’t assume that I know. I don’t remember what I did, last week. I certainly will have very little clue what you did, even if you were with me.
  2. What you think you’d contribute to community life for Microsoft, their product groups, and the people who work at Microsoft. They are people too and I love most of the ones that I come across. Be generous with your time with Microsoft people too; don’t assume that, because they work for a massive company, that they aren’t under pressure or really busy. Trust me. They are. Don’t criticise without offering to help first.
  3. The area of expertise you think you bring to the MVP Program. I know we are all Data Platform these days, but it makes things simple.
  4. What would you like to do for the Program?
  5. Tell me more about you. Help me to find a thread that makes you unique, and stand out a little.

I know it seems a lot. I’m busy and i need help filling out the form, and I want to do a good job for you. If you can’t be bothered to give me these things, well, you can’t really expect me to spend hours collating all of this information for you! I can tweak it so it’s good English (for example) but you will help me a lot of if you can be your own voice. I don’t want to miss something out, because I forgot to put something in.

What you could do in return; say thanks to me, ask other people to nominate you too, and, most of all, nominate people yourself. Be generous with your time.

Help me to help you.
Image from page 311 of "Greek athletic sports and festivals" (1910)

See you in Paris? Presenting at SQLSaturday Paris?

Fancy joining me in Paris? 25th June, I’ll be there! The details are below.It’s the place to be, to learn Microsoft Data Platform technologies e.g. Azure, Power BI, SQL Server – and there’s a range of sessions for beginners to experts. Register here – http://www.sqlsaturday.com/510/eventhome.aspx 

Also, a big Thank You to the SQLSaturday Paris team for having me along again. They always do a professional, world-class job of organising the event. Contact Jean-Pierre Riehl for more information ( twitter and GUSS site  )

They are also offering workshops and here’s the information for you to check out. Kevin Kline‘s session will be in English.

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I will be attending Marco Russo’s session on DAX, Markus Ehrermueller-Jensen‘s session on data visualisation, Isabelle Van Campenhoudt and Serge Luca‘s session on Power BI, Kevin Kline’s session on Troubleshooting, and then I’ll be presenting on Cortana Analytics.

L’agenda

SQLSatParis Agenda

20 sessions, 25 experts internationaux
http://www.sqlsaturday.com/510/Sessions/Schedule.aspx

Le SQLSaturday, c’est LA conférence technique internationale de l’année. Avec plus de 25 speakers de 10 nationalités, vous retrouvez le meilleur des technologies Data de Microsoft : SQL Server, Power BI, Azure, deep dive, etc.

Les préconférences

Cette année, les préconférences sont de retour. Imaginez passer la journée entière avec un expert internationalement reconnu pour creuser un sujet particulier ? A mi-chemin entre la formation et la conférence, les préconférences vous permettent de découvrir en profondeur une technologies ou un savoir-faire.

Les premiers sponsors du SQLSaturday Paris

Microsoft, Pyramid AnalyticsData by Design, Jobly, AZEO, DCube et SUPINFO Paris.

Vous pouvez devenir sponsor en nous contactant: sponsors@guss.pro ou en passant par le site de l’événement: https://www.sqlsaturday.com/510/Sponsors/SponsorSignup.aspx

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.

 

DocumentDB News: Protocol support for MongoDB Lands!

Halo

If you play Halo 5, then DocumentDB has already come into your life!

You may have heard that Azure DocumentDB has made some new exciting developments, based on industry, customer and user feedback.

 

DocumentDBLet’s have a look at the biggest news: DocumentDB now has protocol support for MongoDB. From the industry perspective, this is great news. MongoDB is one of the most easily-recognised NoSQLs databases. Now that DocumentDB can be a great supporting act for MongoDB, it means that architects have a broader range of tools to support business needs in the enterprise data architecture, whilst increasing business capability using the Azure cloud. How does it work? Well, or MongoDB at the wire protocol level, which means that the existing MongoDB drivers will function against DocumentDB. For IT departments, it means that enterprises can persist data in DocumentDB behind the scenes. With it, it brings the reliability, stability and resilience of the Azure cloud. It also means that these technologies are accessible for small to medium enterprises in a way that they can afford, backed up with the stability and support from Microsoft Azure that they may find difficult to service on their own.

mongodb-logo-rgbHow will it work in practice? If organisations already have written a MongoDB application, then they could put the data into the Azure DocumentDB data store because the APIs are supported. This means that the DocumentDB team hasn’t created new APIs but now they support existing ones, so it means you can re-use what you already have and know.

How does an organisation get started? If their applications use MongoDB to create, read, update and delete documents, as well as query over those documents, then they can leverage the same patterns and code to communicate with DocumentDB. Start by requesting access to this preview functionality by following these instructions.

In a further step to meet the demands of small to medium enterprises, the pricing model for DocumentDB has been decoupled from throughput, although the throughput is still reserved. Instead, DocumentDB has moved towards a consumption model, which is easier for people to understand. Further, it also brings it in line with other Microsoft technologies.

Another feature that will please the technologists is server-side sharding for DocumentDB with the introduction of partitioned collections. Briefly, when the user creates a collection, there will be a partition collection which has a key. Based on this key, DocumentDB will automatically shard behind the scenes. This will make DocumentDB more accessible by increasing its user-friendliness; after all, it is a relatively new technology. This is particularly applicable in the Internet of Things scenario, where the organisation could be logging a lot of data in a very short period of time. The ability to conduct server-side sharding is critical to support these scenarios, and it is great news to see it happen for DocumentDB.

To summarise, DocumentDB has produced some great new features for architects and developers alike, with the needs of the organisation in mind. In particular, it’s great to see the applicability of the changes to organisations of different sizes; the small to medium ambitious and data-savvy business, as well as larger organisations. To learn more, head on over to Channel 9 to catch a great BUILD session on this topic.

https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2016/B840/player
Great stuff!