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 jen.stirrup@copperblueconsulting.com 

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 http://www.databasedays.com/:

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! 

SQLSaturday Edinburgh Preconference Training Day sponsored by SQLSkills

The SQLSaturday Edinburgh team are extremely proud to present the following one day, advanced level training with SQLskills Jonathan Kehayias and Joseph Sack. The Training Day will be held on Friday 7th June at the University of Edinburgh Pollok Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland. You can find full details here, such as travel, accommodation and venue., and you can register here.
I’m very proud that Jon and Joe are joining us. They are extremely well-respected for their knowledge in SQL Server.
You may well have read their books or material. Jonathan is the ‘go-to’ expert and authority on Extended Events in SQL Server 2008— for example, he wrote the definitive whitepaper on Extended Events for Microsoft.
Joe is a SQL Server author, and you can see his Amazon page here. In 2009, Joe took over responsibility for the entire SQL Server Microsoft Certified Master program and held that post until 2011.
Jonathan and Joe are part of the highly-respected SQLskills team. We are also delighted to announce that SQLskills are our official Preconference Training Day Sponsor, and we are grateful to them for their fantastic support of SQLSaturday Edinburgh.
The SQLskills team are brought together by Paul S. Randall and Kimberly L Tripp, two of the world’s most renowned SQL Server experts, is dedicated to providing the highest quality and most in-depth training and consulting in the market. The SQLskills team have an emphasis on real-world expertise that you can immediately put into practice, making you a better SQL Server professional.
The Training Day itself has the following Agenda and you can register here.
Leveraging SQL Server 2012 Features and Tools
SQL Server 2012 offers a number of new features that improve high availability, security, performance analysis, and scalability that can be immediately leveraged for an immediate return on investment associated with upgrading. In this session, Joe and Jonathan will go through a huge list of problems solved by these new features and tools – and will demo them along the way!
Some of the new SQL Server 2012 features that will be discussed:
  • partitioning enhancements
  • ColumnStore indexes
  • contained databases
  • distributed replay
  • server-level roles
  • predictable failover with failover policies
  • availability groups
  • multi-database failover
  • read-only secondaries
  • and… much, much more!
If you want an information packed session with practical reasons to upgrade and powerful tips and tricks for using the new release – this workshop is for you!
Who are the presenters?
Jonathan Kehayias and Joseph Sack are well-known SQL Server experts, part of the elite SQLskills team of expert consultants.
What will you take away from the session?
By attending this session, you will obtain advanced SQL Server 2012 knowledge that will help you to conduct your upgrade more smoothly, whilst helping you to understand the new SQL Server 2012 features can help your environment.
SQLSaturday Edinburgh offer very reasonably priced sessions aimed at helping the SQL Server community. Given the low cost of £125 (exclusive of VAT) for this one-day training course, we believe that you will recoup this investment by delivering your upgrade with the expertise that you will gain from this session.

Data Visualisation Course in Dublin

In partnership with Technitrain, on 21st September, I’ll be holding a Data Visualisation in SQL Server 2012 course in Dublin, Ireland. If you’d like more details, please click here to register

Key benefits
This course will enable you to create data visualisations that will help you and your colleagues interpret you data more effectively in Excel and Power View.

The course is being held at BT Training Solutions, Castleriver House, 14/15 Parliament Street, Temple Bar,Dublin 2, Ireland on 21st September. A breakdown of the course can be found here:

9:45   What is data visualisation? Here, we will talk about data visualisation, what is it not, and why is it important? How is it supported in the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence stack? How does it fit into the latest paradigm shift towards self-service Business Intelligence?

10:00    Finding patterns in the data. You will learn about the cognitive psychology process involved in finding patterns in the data, looking at some of the more well-known data visualisation examples in order to understand the rationale behind designing and creating a data visualisation. We will have an overview of Power View, and some new features in Excel 2010. We will look at the purpose of Power View – and what it isn’t designed to do. This section is intended to provoke discussion with topics such as (a) should a data visualisation be beautiful as well as informative? (b) to 3D, or not to 3D? (c) are pies just for dessert, or can we use them in charts too? (d) data journalism – can it mislead as well as inform? Although this section concentrates on the psychology and human perceptual processes of data visualisation, understanding the ‘why’ of data visualisation will ultimately mean that we become stronger ‘datavizzers’.

11:00     Break
11:15   Getting to Know your Data using Excel and Power View. An essential part of analysis is to know and understand the data. Both applications can be used to explore tabular models. In this session, we will look at how they can be used to explore your data, and when each application is best suited. We will also look at key features of understanding data, such as searching for dirty data, anomalies or inconsistencies.

12:30  Lunch
13:30  Data Visualisations. Using Power View, you will learn about query design and presentation layout in order to create visualisations in Power View. This includes various visualisations such as sparklines, motion charts (as in Hans Rosling’s BBC4 programme, ‘The Joy of Stats’), parallel co-ordinates.

14:45 Break
15:00 Power View in Depth. In this section, we will cover the complexities of displaying multivariate data, and how Power View can help. Here, we look at ways of displaying multivariate data such as parallel co-ordinates and crosstab arrangements of Tufte’s ‘small multiples’. We will also talk about Power View ‘under the hood’ by tracing its behaviour, and how it initially obtains its schema and metadata information from the source.

16:00 Break
16:15 Dashboards  Putting it all together. Dashboards are more than simply placing a few reports on a page. We will look at the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of implementing Dashboards, KPIs and other visualisations in Excel and Power View.
17:30 Close

I hope to see you there!

My TechEd North America 2012 Schedule

TechEd North America will be an awesome event and I’m looking forward to participating!

I am always available for questions at any time, during TechEd. However, I thought it might be worthwhile listing out some of the places and times in case people want to catch up with me specifically. If it helps, please send me a tweet if you have any data visualisation or business intelligence questions, and I look forward to meeting you!

 Breakout Sessions

My ‘Business Intelligence and Data Visualization‘ presentation is at the following time:

DBI206Business Intelligence and Data Visualization: Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Monday 11th, 4:45 – 6:00PM, Room S320E

Demo Stations

I’ll definitely be at the demo stations at the following points, in order to discuss Breakthrough Insights: Rapid Data Exploration and Visualisation:

Microsoft Expo Breakthrough Insights: Tues 12th, 10:30am – 1:00PM – S. Hall A
Microsoft Expo Breakthrough Insights: Thurs 14th, 12:00PM – 2:00PM – S. Hall A

Theater Session

 I am presenting a Theater session as follows:
Private Cloud, Public Cloud Theater: Wed 13th, 3:45PM – 4:00PM

Fun Stuff!

I will be at the Community Night and look forward to seeing you there!
TechEd 2012 Community Night/Ask the Experts Tues 12th, 6:15PM – 9:00PM

Precons: What we learn by listening

When words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain. (Shakespeare, Richard II, Act 2, Scene 1)

This quotation, from Shakespeare’s Richard II, sums up a lot of my thinking about Business Intelligence generally. It’s always about people. As a consultant, presenter, speaker or panellist, I’m there to listen as well as talk. I have posted my Data Visualisation and Business Intelligence pdf notes here. If you cannot access it, please let me know at jen.stirrup [at] copperblueconsulting dot com.
I used the slides as the basis of my Precon in Poland at the Poland SQLDay event. The precon is mainly demo, and trying to solve delegates’ business problems on the day. I like to try and find suggest a few common business problems, and demonstrate different ways I’ve solved them. 
As a Data Visualisation practitioner, I believe in visualisation – but I also believe in listening, too. I do not like to PowerPoint people to death.  I like to do end-to-end – so I start from the ground up. In other words, I set out with the business problem, and then walk through to the end result. Sometimes these business problems are issues which delegates didn’t know that they had, until they’ve thought about it whilst attending the precon! I like to try and do useful things that people can apply to their own environments when they get home. I always have my own ideas about things that I’d like to show people, but I welcome attendees to bring their own thoughts and issues about their current and future business problems. After all, Business Intelligence is about people.
Since I do a lot of the demo work pitched at the audience needs, I don’t have that many slides. I can produce more if I need to do so, but I always try and get a balance between demo and slides. 
In this way, although I’m talking a lot during the day to the delegates, I am also listening to the delegates as well.  I believe that this is vital to the success of the day. If I can help with a specific business problem that the other delegates are interested in, then this is a good day for me since I’ve made a difference somewhere.
People often ask me: how can you get up on stage, and speak in front of so many people?  I don’t hold with the ‘I talk, you applaud’ school of presentation at all. Here is my answer:

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. Winston Churchill

Sometimes I get questions that I don’t know the answer. In SQL Server, I now think that it covers such a wide arena of users, that it is no longer possible to know everything about it unless you actually work for Microsoft (and I don’t).  
Fundamentally, however, I have to agree with Hemingway: to listen, you’ve got to want to hear the message. I always respect my delegates. Even if they’re not the ones talking, they live, breathe and sleep SQL Server and related technologies all day, every day. They deserve our respect and in order to serve them best, it is up to me to listen. So my slide deck isn’t fulsome; but I hope that the attendees got something out of the day, and it was my pleasure to work with them. 

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. Ernest Hemingway. 


Psychology, and its impact on Microsoft Books Online

In case you haven’t seen it, Books Online is the Microsoft online Help facility for everything that they produce. Books Online has a problem – how do they ensure that they produce fit-for-purpose material that is effective, so as many people as possible?
I’ve been giving training courses for 15 years now, in a range of topics from Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Tableau and SQL Server, for example. Training is hard work, but it can be a lot of fun if you have an engaged, interested audience. I’ve held precons for SQLBits, for example, and also for SQLDay in Poland. I’m also holding a training course in London on 30th May, on Data Visualisation and SQL Server 2012, and you can register here.
In order to be an effective trainer, I try to identify people’s learning styles. According to some psychological theory, such as Total Recall, by Joan Minninger, people have three different types of memory: Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic. Basically, people learn and remember new material in different ways.
In my experience, I broadly divide people into three groups, dependent on the way that they intake new information.
auditory – the listeners – Jimmy Carter, for example, preferred to take his information in verbally. His advisors would tell him what he needed to know
visual – Winston Churchill preferred to take his information in by reading. He would receive memos from his advisors
doers – people who like to take in information by doing things themselves. I learn like this. I will throw away any manual you might give me, and just ask you for the login and password. I’ll give myself a task, and fish around until I’ve sussed it.
Remember that I’m trying to ‘hit the mark’ for as many of my class as possible, since I’m only with them for a few days. This is just my rough analysis, and I realise, of course, that the same person will use different learning styles dependent on the material that they are learning.
I think that the Books Online team at Microsoft have a difficult job. They need to produce materials that reach the widest types of learners possible; the auditory, visual and the doers. So, a video might suit the ‘listeners’ and some of the ‘readers’, but the ‘doers’ might not want to spend time looking at a video. I think that they produce material to try and reach all audiences, and I like some of the new look sites for Power View, for example.
In order to provide positive feedback, I’ve started to give Community Content feedback back to the Books Online folks. You can also be engaged, by adding comments to the bottom of the page. I don’t expect people to agree with all my comments, but I do it in the hope that it might be useful.
I hope that this helps, and have fun reading about SQL Server!

Data Visualisation Course with SQL Server 2012 Tabular Models, Power View and Excel

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a course on Data Visualisation on 30th May 2012 in London, in partnership with Technitrain, the UK’s foremost Microsoft training organisation. 
If you are looking to understand more about Microsoft’s latest Business Intelligence data visualisation offering, then this one-day course is for you! We’ll learn about SQL Server 2012 Power View and Excel, using SQL Server 2012 Tabular Models as a data source. 
Although this course focuses in technology, we will also be covering aspects of perception, cognitive psychology and data visualisation debate over what makes a good data visualisation. Understanding the ‘why’ of data visualisation can help you to see ‘how’ to produce better visualisations. We’ll be using Microsoft Power View and Excel in order to apply this knowledge to practical applications, thereby helping you to get the ‘message’ of the data across to your business users. Here are some of the topics we will cover:
  • Data Visualisation – Theory and Practice
  • Finding Patterns in Data
  • Getting to Know your Data using Power View and Excel
  • Power View in Depth
  • Dashboards – putting it all together

Please join myself and other ‘data vizzers’ for this one day course, and you can find more details, including Registration, by clicking here.
I look forward to seeing you there, and please do give me a shout if you’re coming along!