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Saturday, 13 April 2013

PASS BA Conference: Interview with the PASS Board

I was lucky enough to interview Bill Graziano and Douglas McDowell, members of the PASS Board in order to have a chat with them about the PASS BA Conference. I've detailed the conversation here. I'd like to say a big 'Thank You' to Bill and Douglas, and the rest of the PASS team who took time out of their day in order to spend time with myself and the other bloggers.
Before we proceed, I'm British and spell organisation with an 's' rather than a 'z' - a number of the PASS BA Conference attendees came up to speak with me about my British spelling in my presentations, and it really made me smile! Therefore, this blog will continue my tradition of British spellings!

What was the purpose of the PASS Business Analytics conference?  
The conference is aimed at the Business Analysts who want to be leaders in their discipline. Business Analysts, like the rest of the data community, are people to feel included as part of a community. If you touch data, you should be here! 62% of attendees have never been to a PASS event before - this is an awesome achievement for PASS towards building a new community of Business Analysts.
PASS is responding to a need in the Business Analytics community for knowledge, support, networking and training. Although PASS facilitate community events such as SQLSaturday events and so on, the content is determined by the community - in other words, what do people want to see? There is a real thirst for people to have Business Analytics information and a community, and PASS is meeting that demand.
What will people take away from the PASS BA Conference?

Knowledge of new technologies as well as discussions of business strategy. There are also plenty of case studies in specific domains, such as social media data analysis and even sports data analysis!
One interesting thing that was noted during the discussion was the sheer breadth of conversations that were held at the PASS BA Conference. It seemed a broad mix of IT and Business oriented people, and it was great to hear people sharing insights about what would be useful to them. Often it can be difficult for the IT folks to understand what the Business folks are doing and why - and vice versa. It seemed as if the 'sidebar' conversations went mainstream; one common theme was the difficulties in intra-organisational communication between technical and business departments.  One of the interesting things for me is that some of the attendees seemed to take away more than knowledge; they took away a multi-faceted perspective of looking at the same 'business' problem with different eyes.
So, what was the audience profile of people attending a BA conference? The majority of 'job roles' were 'Business Analysts', who constituted 40% of the audience. These people were business-oriented in a LOB role. 
The Business Analyst role constitutes a variety of roles, and it can be target a breadth of roles that's pertinent to Business Analytics. So, what is Business Analytics?
It means different things to different people. Positioning it was quite hard. 
How do you concisely package it? If we look at Gartner continuum, we can see that Business Intelligence is diagnostic, and answers the question 'what happened'? Business Analytics, on the other hand, is prescriptive. It asks the question 'What do I need to do in order to effect an organisational change?' 
Why did you choose the name 'Business Analytics'?
Future messaging of the PASS BA Conference will get tighter, but it is difficult to pin down when there are so many buzzwords! Business Analytics as a term, however, is durable - it's about adding value to your data. As technologies move and shift, the topic mix will change over time.
How can people continue to engage once the PASS BA Conference is over?

Given that 500 people were completely new to PASS as an organisation, there are plenty of opportunities for people to start up their own User Group, for example. Hopefully you'll see a BA user group starting near you! There will be separate needs for different parts of the community, and it is natural that this will evolve over time. 
Virtual chapters can be one way to engage, and I'd personally encourage people to join up.

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