Five reasons to be excited about Microsoft Data Insights Summit!

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I’m delighted to be speaking at Microsoft Data Summit! I’m pumped about my session, which focuses on Power BI for the CEO. I’m also super happy to be attending the Microsoft Data Summit for five top reasons (and others, but five is a nice number!). I’m excited about all of the Excel, Power BI, DAX and Data Science goodies. Here are some sample session titles:

Live Data Streaming in Power BI

Data Science for Analysts

What’s new in Excel

Embed R in Power BI

Spreadsheet Management and Compliance (It is a topic that keeps me up at night!)

Book an in-person appointment with a Microsoft expert with the online Schedule Builder. Bring your hard – or easy – questions! In itself, this is a real chance to speak to Microsoft directly and get expert, indepth  help from the team who make the software that you love.

Steven Levitt of Freakonomics is speaking and I’m delighted to hear him again. I’ve heard him present recently and he was very funny whilst also being insightful. I think you’ll enjoy his session. You’ll know him from Freakonomics.

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I’m excited that James Phillips is delivering a keynote! I have had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and I am really excited about where James and the Power BI team have taken Power BI. I’m sure that there will be good things as they steam ahead, so James’ keynote is unmissable!

Alberto Cairo is presenting a keynote! Someone who always makes me sit up a bit straighter when they tweet is Alberto Cairo, and I’m delighted he’s attending. I hope I can get to meet him in person. Whether Alberto is tweeting about data visualisation, design or the world in general, it’s always insightful. I have his latest book and I hope I can ask him to sign it.

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Tons of other great speakers! Now someone I haven’t seen for ages – too long in fact – is Rob Collie. Rob is President of PowerPivotPro and you simply have to hear him speak on the topic. He’s direct in explaining how things work, and you will learn from him. I’m glad to see Marco Russo is speaking and I love his sessions. In fact, at TechEd North America, I only got to see one session because I was so busy with presenting, booth duty etc… but I managed to get to see a session and I made sure it was Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari’s session.  Chris Webb is also presenting and his sessions are always amazing. I have to credit Chris in part for where I am today, because his blog kept me sane and his generosity during sessions meant that I never felt stupid asking him questions. I’m learning too – always.

Ok, that’s five things but there are plenty more. Why not see for yourself?

Join me at the conference, June 12–13, 2017 in Seattle, WA — and be sure to sign up for your 1:1 session with a Microsoft expert.

Simple explanation of a t-test and its meaning using Excel 2013

For those of us you say that stats are ‘dry’ – you are clearly being shown the wrong numbers! Statistics are everywhere and it’s well worth understanding what you’re talking about, when you talk about data, numbers or languages such as R or Python for data and number crunching. Statistics knowledge is extremely useful, and it is accessible when you put your brain to it!

So, for example, what does a pint of Guinness teaches us about statistics? In a visit to Ireland, Barack Obama declared that the Guinness tasted better in Ireland, and the Irish keep the ‘good stuff’ to themselves.
Can we use science to identify whether there is a difference between the enjoyment of a pint of Guinness consumed in Ireland, and pints consumed outside of Ireland?
A Journal of Food Science investigation detailed research where four investigators travelled around different countries in order to taste-test the Guinness poured inside and outside of Ireland. To do this, researchers compared the average score of pints poured inside of Ireland versus pints poured outside of Ireland.

How did they do the comparison? they used a t-test, which was devised by William Searly Gosset, who worked at the Guinness factory as a scientist, with the objective of using science to produce the perfect pint.
The t-test helps us to work out whether two sets of data are actually different.
It takes two sets of data, and calculates:

the count – the number of data points
the mean, also known as the average i.e. the sum total of the data, divided by the number of data points
The standard deviation – tells you roughly how far, on average, each number in your list of data varies from the average value of the list itself.

The t-test is more sophisticated test to tell us if those two means
of those two groups of data are different.

In the video, I go ahead and try it, using Excel formulas:

COUNT – count up the number of data points. The formula is simply COUNT, and we calculate this
AVERAGE – This is calculated using the Average Excel calculated formula.
STDEV – again, another Excel calculation, to tell us the standard deviation.
TTEST – the Excel calculation, which wants to know:

Array 1 – your first group of data
Array 2 – your second group of data
Tail – do you know if the mean of the second group will definitely by higher OR lower than the second group, and it’s only likely to go in that direction? If so, use 1. If you are not sure if it’s higher or lower, then use 2.
Type –
if your data points are related to one another in each group, use 1
if the data points in each group are unrelated to each other, and there is equal variances, use 2
if the data points in each group are unrelated to each other, and if you are unsure if there are equal variances, use 3

And that’s your result. But how do you know what it means? It produces a number, called p, which is simply the probability.

The t-test: simple way of establishing whether there are significant differences between two groups of data. It uses the null hypothesis: this is the devil’s advocate position, which says that there is no difference between the two groups It uses the sample size, the mean, and the standard deviation to produce a p value.
The lower the p value, the more likely that there is a difference in the two groups i.e. that something happened to make a difference in the two groups.

In social science, p is usually set to 5% i.e. only 1 time in 20, is the difference due to chance.
In the video, the first comparison does not have a difference ‘proven, but the second comparison does.
So next time you have a good pint of Guinness, raise your glass to statistics!

 


 

Love,
Jen

My handy toolkit for my Azure IoT Project – Starting Out

Azure-IoTAs some of you know, I’m part of an Internet of Things project (IoT). IoT is the latest buzzword, but honestly, in my opinion, it is all just data. The data may have a different velocity, and it may be fired at you in different shapes. A lot of the problems are still the same; how to store it, how to clean it, how to interpret it and analyse it.

The added complexity for me in IoT, from the perspective of a Business Intelligence specialist, is that I am not familiar with devices or any of the communication stacks for transferring data. I am learning very fast, and I’m glad to say that I’m surrounded by a great team who explain the details very clearly. I am learning about all sorts, from the details of electrical engineering through to protocols. I am enjoying the challenge. I have learned a lot, and I’ll try to share through my blog as the journey progresses.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the tools and IP that I’ve been garnering as I go along this journey. This page is likely to be updated as we go along, so please keep checking back. Please note that I am not affiliated with any of these vendors in any way, and if you find other tools, please do share them with me.

Management of Azure for my IoT project

For the purposes of managing Azure storage, applications and diagnostics, I use the Azure Management Studio by Cerebrata Software, which is ultimately owned by Red Gate Software. Why do I like it? Well, you can find a detailed list of the features here but here’s why I like using it in practice:

  • I find that the interface is clean and crisp, and I can navigate it easily. I don’t have to think about using the technology, to get it to do what I want.
  • In an IoT project, particularly during the research phase, you’re not really sure how much data is being emitted. It may be more or less than predicted. With the Azure Management Studio, I can keep an eye on my storage – and therefore my costs.
  • With any project which involves early adoption of new technology, it’s important that key stakeholders are reassured about the performance and reliability of the technology. The Azure Management Studio has a series of dashboards, and this helps me to tell the story of Azure to key stakeholders.

Management of IoT Projects

I prefer to use Microsoft Project to manage projects. I have built a default IoT Project Plan using Microsoft Project, and I tailor it for each project that I’m involved in. I use Project Online with Office365 because I like having everything in one place, and it is easy to share it. I use Excel to list out tasks for people who don’t have Project, or don’t know how to use it. If people are interested, I can share the files.

If you don’t have access to Microsoft Project, then I recommend Zoho Projects. Quite frankly it’s an undiscovered gem. It’s free for one project, or you can pay $20 per month for 20 projects. This is cloud software at it’s best; functional, cheap, flexible and pay as you go. At that price, you’d be crazy not to try at least the free version.

I also use Trello and Wunderlist to manage tasks: I use Trello because the other team members seem to like it. I use Wunderlist more as a brain dumping ground, and I don’t share that with anyone.

I also like JIRA to log bugs, workflows and so on. I’ve been using the online version for years, and there is really no substitute for it.

If you’re thinking of starting an IoT project, or want to know more, then please email us at IoT@DataRelish.com and I will see if I can help you, or I can perhaps put you in touch with other people who can help.

Cross Platform MVP activities: my foray into CRM at the CRM UG UK event

I went to the CRM UK User Group event today, and wow – what a blast! To know more about the CRM User Group for the UK, please visit here.

It was a great example of what a community event can be. The CRM MVPs are welcoming, friendly, generous with their time and expertise, hard working and – most of all – ‘other’ community oriented, not ‘self’ oriented. What is an MVP? According to Microsoft, Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs are exceptional community leaders who actively share their high-quality, real-world deep technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft. They are committed to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft products and technologies.

I love the fact that some of the MVPs in the UK are reaching out to other product groups. For me personally, I hope I started some new friendships today, and I hope to keep the conversation going with the CRM community. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all might speak different technological languages, but, by sharing our insights and community spirit, we help to make the community more ‘sharing’ and open. I really enjoyed my conversations with the CRM folks, and I learned a lot too. It’s true that you have to give and take in the community, and I will cherish today.

My session over-ran by half an hour, which was particularly naughty because I only had an hour session. I can honestly say I’ve never over-run like that before. However, the ‘over-run’ was actually delivering value for the attendees, because they fired a lot of their data type of questions at me. I was glad to have help from Peter Baddeley to answer some of the more intricate aspects of SharePoint (he’s a guru, by the way!) and after a while, Adam Vero was kind enough to step in the room and to help me out with some of the CRM questions that I couldn’t answer, and I dealt with a lot of the ‘data’ type questions from the SQL Server and Power BI point of view. The truth is, a lot of data issues are multi-faceted and the session-turned-panel segment was extremely useful for everyone, including me!

I’d also like to thank the CRM User Group members. The audience were very friendly and welcoming to me, and they appreciated my PowerBI session. What did I show? Firstly, I wasn’t sure at what level to pitch the session. This was the first time I’d ever spoken to a CRM audience before, and I was more nervous than usual. Would they be technical? Would the be sales, marketing or service oriented? Were they business users? Or, worst of all, would I end up with a mix?

If you want to see some of the slides, I stayed with the staple Partner pack of PowerBI material that you can download from here. I didn’t use them all – just a few of the architectural overview slides. I also used some of the CRM information, which you can download, if you are a fully paid up partner. I knew that this material would be ‘safe’ because there was a slide dedicated to the PowerBI and Dynamic CRM connector. I’ve posted the main slides for you below:
Power BI and CRM  The technical architecture overview can be found below:Power BI Technical Architecture

If you are interested in knowing more, please take a look at the Power BI community website.

If you need more information on the actual connector setup between Power BI and CRM Online, then please visit this website here which also mentions the Power BI and Dynamics CRM Content Pack. There is also a Dynamics Marketing Content Pack, which is worth a look.

And here is a picture of me, looking very small next to the lectern.
CRMUGUK Jen Stirrup
I walked alone, loving the sun, walking the earth… and enjoying simplicity in life and data. I hope that you do, too.

Love, always,

Jen

Jen’s Diary: Overcoming the Power of Feathers through Action

I’m sorry I haven’t kept this diary up to date: I’ve been at SQLBits, SQLPass Nordic, Data Culture events, and other community gatherings. I’ve also had dental surgery, involving the removal of two teeth and the removal of some of my lower jaw. I haven’t been very happy, needless to say.

As always, I don’t represent PASS or any other organisation throughout this blog.

FYI I’ll be holding a Twitter Surgery Hour on Friday 20th March at 12pm GMT so please tweet me at @jenstirrup and ask me whatever you like! If you are not sure what time that is in your time zone, please check here.

never+not+broken[1]I’m not Hindi, but I’m inspired by the HIndu goddess Akhilanda, which means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky but amazing language. Here, we see a double negative here means that Akhilanda is broken right down to her name. The thing is, being broken is actually part of a renewal process, and it means that your broken parts can shine out more brightly than ever before – simply because you are broken, and moving, and reflect light out wide. It means you can pick up your pieces, and run without limits.

Outwardly, I am not an obvious leader. I realise I am a quiet person. I don’t party. I very rarely drink alcohol. I am not much of a dinner date – I am a forty something single mother, with no real hobbies or interests other than technology. I have never been someone to write home about. I am my own person.

People can know you by your reputation, but your actions can speak louder than words. Let me give you an example: a Jewish tale talks about a man, who went about the community telling gossip about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and wanted to apologise, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers.”

Why do I write this blog? I want to give people something other than feathers, what is said about me, whether it is good or bad. Instead, I want to demonstrate real actions that prove me, demonstrate unequivocally that I work for the community, and work hard. Instead, I hope that these diary post series will overcome the power of feathers – whether they are good or bad – and shine out what I actually do for the community. Actions speak louder than words, and this is how we overcome the power of feathers – let your light shine more brightly than ever, even if you are not perfect but broken. For me, I work really hard for the community and hope that the actions demonstrate that.

I’m hoping that people will see how hard I’ve worked for the community, and they will hold onto that data – we are in a data-driven decade, right? – and they will see the data for what it is. So, what have I been doing?

Ongoing – PASS BA Conference. I attend conference calls for about three hours a week, some weeks, up to seven hours, and these calls are held from 9pm my time onwards. Obviously, that takes out a few of my evenings a week. I obviously have work to to outside of this time, such as sponsorship, blogging on numerous occasions, email.

Ongoing – I have been holding PASS Data Science Virtual Chapter webinars every Friday night, 9pm my time. This obviously takes out my Friday night, in additional to the BAC calls I mention above, and I have been doing this for four consecutive weeks now. This week is the last week, and I’m considering doing a five week introductory course to Python and/or AzureML after that. I’ve held lots of Virtual Chapter meetings before, particularly since I held that Portfolio for PASS last year. My most popular sessions were on data visualisation, personally, but I have noted that my audience has really increased over the last five weeks and I’d like to continue to offer that community support.

March 2015 – I tried to hold another DiTBits (Diversity in Technology) event at SQLBits, but, alas, this wasn’t to be. The event wasn’t marketed and it seemed a pity to try and shoehorn something in at the last moment. Next time, I hope.

March 2015 – I held a two hour R and Python for SQL and Business Intelligence Professionals session at SQLBits. Files and notes to follow (see earlier note about my surgery!) It was extremely well attended.

March 2015 – I held a general session on Data Visualisation, entitled Eye Vegetables and Eye Candy: How to Visualise your Data at SQLBits. Again, notes to follow (I’m still recovering from surgery…)

March 2015 – I did half of a joint session at SQLBits with Allan Mitchell, where I talked about Kibana. The topic was Building Scaleable Analytical Solutions on Azure and it was fun presenting with Allan.

March 2015 – I spoke at SQLRally Nordic on Pulling back the green curtain: Data Forensics, Power Bi and Dataviz.

March 2015 – I held a Women in Technology event at SQLRally Nordic, talking about the importance of diverse teams.

March 2015 – I interviewed Mico Yuk as part of our ‘Meet the Experts’ series and you can listen to the podcast here. I’m really looking forward to meeting her!

Feb 2015 – Ongoing – I worked to help get the Data Science Virtual Chapter off the ground, led by Mark Tabladillo, who is the VC lead. This has involved groundwork, phone calls, and working with Microsoft to get speakers. You should really register for the Data Science VC. It’s great fun!

Feb 2015 – Data Culture – I was the keynote speaker for Microsoft, which was great fun! The slideshare is below. My section is about the middle third or so; credits are on the slides for the other speakers.

Feb 2015 – Ongoing – I kicked off my series Intro to R series of webinars for the Data Science Virtual Chapter
Feb 2015 – I ramped up my SQLSaturday Edinburgh in earnest, which has a Business Intelligence focus.
Feb 2015 – I held an Excel BI VC session on cubes and Excel. I also hosted another session as a mentor.
Feb 2015 – Techdays – I held a webinar on AzureML to over six thousand people. Nervous? Yes, bordering on terror. Great thanks to Andrew Fryer (I’m honoured to call him my friend) for all of his support and he’s an inspiration to me, and I was glad to be his presenting small person for the day.
Feb 2015 – Hants UG – on the same day that I held the Techdays session, I left and travelled to Hampshire to deliver a session on AzureML.
I hope it’s clear that, in the past few months, I have been doing a lot of work for the community as well as my PASS Board responsibilities.
So, if you catch a feather and want to ask me about it, my email is jen.stirrup@datarelish.com or tweet me during my Twitter Hour on the 20th March. I look forward to your input. Just go ahead and ask me!

PASS BA Speaker focus: What did Steve Jobs have to say about Daniel Fylstra?

PASS BA Conference is delighted to have Daniel Fylstra speaking at our conference. In fact, he was the first speaker we signed up.

Here’s what Steve Jobs had to say:

“There have been two real explosions that have propelled the industry forward. The first one really happened in 1977, and it was the spreadsheet. I remember when Dan Fylstra, who ran the company that marketed the first spreadsheet, walked into my office at Apple one day and pulled out this disk from his vest pocket and said “I have this incredible new program — I call it a Visual Calculator,” and it became VisiCalc. And that’s what really drove — propelled — the Apple II to the success it achieved.”

I think it’s great that we have such a visionary attending our PASS BA Conference. I’m looking forward to meeting Daniel, and picking up his insights from 30 plus years in the industry. Jobs mentions an event that took place when I was only six years old, and look at how the industry has grown since then. We have Excel’s 30th Birthday this year.

We can really say that the team of Dan Bricklin, Bob Frankston and Daniel Fylstra are great innovators who have really changed the industry fundamentally. Although they didn’t invent the spread sheet, it was Daniel Fylstra suggested it would be a viable product if it could run on an Apple II computer. VisiCalc was born.

Ever used the Microsoft Excel Solver? Well, here is Daniel Fylstra’s paper on the Microsoft Excel Solver, and its design and use. If you’ve ever used it, you should tip your hat to the great team who put it together. Daniel is one of those people. More recently, Fylstra has been working on Integrated simulation, data mining and optimization in Excel. Here’s a recent paper here, from the ACM.

From this insight, there are great innovators and thinkers that can we learn from them. They seek better ways of doing things, about bringing insights from other disciplines. We are inspired by people who see the bigger picture, and I’m personally looking forward to meeting Daniel and thanking him for all he has done for this industry.

Make sure you sign up for the Conference, and take the opportunity to meet a legend in the industry.