Wednesday, 25 September 2013

PASS Business Analytics Strategy

Denise McInerny posed a great question on the SQLPass Board of Elections discussion Board. "Recently PASS has begun to reach out to a new group of data professionals by hosting the Business Analytics Conference in Chicago and launching the Business Analytics Virtual Chapter. The 2nd BAC will be held in May 2014. What is your point of view on this strategy and the specific activities, particularly BAC?"

I'm running for the Board, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk about something which I'm extremely passionate about: the PASS Business Analytics strategy.

What is my point of view on this strategy?
PASS has hosted the BA Analytics Conference in Chicago this year, and I was lucky enough to attend as a speaker, giving two sessions. PASS are repeating the experience by holding a second BA Conference in May 2014

In 2012, the release of SQL Server marked a real sea-change in approach; it introduced user-friendly, non-technical tools for the first time. This was Power View, which built on earlier solutions such as PowerPivot and the Tabular model. More recently, we have seen the Power BI tools grow to include Power Query. I strongly believe that the adoption of the Business Analytics community into the PASS family is the right thing to do. Ultimately the inclusion of the Business Analytics arena is a reflection of the growing user base for SQL Server itself. 

PASS have a wealth of unparalled experience in growing the SQL Server community globally. I believe that this experience puts PASS in a unique, very well-placed position of mentoring the nascent BA community as well. The roles of BA, Data Scientist, and Data architect may be more broad than SQL Server specialists, but this should not mean that they are excluded from the SQL Server community. IF you have some time, do a search on twitter for terms such as #DataScientist and #BusinessAnalytics on twitter. You'll come across reams of results. This illustrates the presence of this community, and PASS are right to get behind it and move it forward towards in-person events that are accessible. 

I play a small role, as I did last year, in being part of the Committee and working with some of the others as part of a Committee focused on BAC, bouncing ideas around, and feeding ideas towards how we can get the first-class content that people expect from PASS, in the BA sphere.

The increase in breadth of membership to the PASS family does not extend only to community members who would benefit from the learning, education and networking that being part of the PASS family brings. The BA community ecosystem also extends to volunteers, a potential new speaker base, and also to sponsors who would like to participate in being part of the community. This is an extremely exciting time for PASS and it is great to be a part of that. 

What would I do about BAC, if elected to the Board?
If I'm elected to the Board, I would like to see an emphasis on the growth and development of the BA community. I'd like to see:

 - more BA / BI SQLSaturdays - or should we call them #BASaturday perhaps? What do you think? Perhaps we have a community 'tweetjam' to choose a name. I'd like to see these in the US and other parts of the world as well. A global growth of this community is required, and again, PASS are well-placed to support.
 - a clearer speaker base for the BI, BA and BigData Virtual Chapters, which are aligning together very closely in content. It might be good if a BA topic gets into the BI VC, that it is handed over to the most appropriate chapter. We tend to grab our speakers with both hands since we are so happy to have volunteers to speak at the VCs! However, this approach may not be best and I'd like to see more co-ordination within the VCs so that the most appropriate presentation is directed to the correct Virtual Chapter.
- Existing, well-established SQLSaturdays might consider a dedicated BA track
- I'd love to see more BA user groups. This might be difficult to set up since it is a nebulous user group. But it would be great fun!

I hope that helps.
Kind Regards,
Jen
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