Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter August Meeting–Creating Forward Looking Dashboards and KPIs

Posted by denglishbi on August 7, 2014

The next PASS BA Virtual Chapter meeting is tomorrow, Thursday August 21 at 12 EST and Brian Larson will be presenting on designing dashboards and KPIs for your organization.

August 21 – Looking through the Windshield: Creating Forward-Looking Dashboards and KPIs (presented by Brian Larson)BAVCLogo (1)

Abstract: It is dangerous to drive forward while looking through the rear window. The same is true about guiding our organizations forward while looking only at the past. Yet, much of our business intelligence shows only the past. This session explores simple techniques to make our dashboards and KPIs visualize what is likely in the future. No fancy predictive algorithms are necessary–just an appreciation of what we know about our organization’s future and a recognition of past trends that are likely to continue.

Bio: Brian Larson is the Chief Technology Officer at Superior Consulting Services and has presented at SQL Server Connections, PASS Summit, and the Microsoft BI Conference. As a consultant to Microsoft, Brian contributed to the original code base of Reporting Services. Brian is the author of “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Reporting Service: 4th Edition” and “Delivering Business Intelligence with SQL Server 2012: 3rd Edition.” as well as co-author of “Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View.”


Just a reminder if you are planning on attending the upcoming PASS Summit Conference in Seattle, WA this November, you can save an additional $150 by using the following discount code – VCSUM04

Just a reminder if you want to stay in touch with the PASS BA Virtual Chapter here are some ways:


If you are interested in speaking we are always looking for speakers, please leave a comment or send me an email at denglishbi@gmail.com

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PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter July Meeting–7 Ideas on Encouraging Advanced Analytics

Posted by denglishbi on July 16, 2014

The next PASS BA Virtual Chapter meeting is tomorrow, Thursday July 17 at 12 EST and Mark Tabladillo will be presenting on ways to encourage advanced analytics within your organization.

July 17 – 7 Ideas on Encouraging Advanced Analytics (presented by Mark Tabladillo)BAVCLogo (1)

Abstract: Many companies are starting or expanding their use of data mining and machine learning. This presentation covers seven practical ideas for encouraging advanced analytics in your organization.

Bio: Mark Tabladillo is a Microsoft MVP and SAS expert based in Atlanta, GA. His Industrial Engineering doctorate (including applied statistics) is from Georgia Tech. Today, he helps teams become more confident in making actionable business decisions through the use of data mining and analytics. Mark provides training and consulting for companies in the US and around the world. He has spoken at major conferences including Microsoft TechEd, PASS Summit, PASS Business Analytics Conference, Predictive Analytics World, and SAS Global Forum. He tweets @marktabnet and blogs at http://marktab.net.


Just a reminder if you are planning on attending the upcoming PASS Summit Conference in Seattle, WA this November, you can save an additional $150 by using the following discount code – VCSUM04

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Minnesota Microsoft BI User Group 2014 Q2 Meeting Follow Up

Posted by denglishbi on June 6, 2014

This past Tuesday we had our Q2 meeting.  This was our 3rd meeting of the year.  We had a great turnout and the room was full with over 80 people in attendance. Needless to say the night did not go off with a hitch, technical difficulties including one projector not working so a temp replacement was used, speakers not working in all of the rooms, and then we lost power during the middle of the second presentation.  Microsoft did a fabulous job working on getting these issues resolved, it was just not our night.  I want to thank everyone for their patience, including the speakers.

The content from the meeting should be posted in our Archive area soon – Past Events and Presentations.

In the meantime you can view the opening announcement slide deck here and checkout the upcoming events including TDWI Minneapolis Chapter, PASSMN June Meeting (Lightning Talks this month), and PASS BA VC session.


We had two great presentations – Don covered the 5 Principles for Creating Effective Data Visualizations (outstanding content and examples)


The one resource link that was excluded was the Interactive Demo, Katz Dialect Survey Maps, http://spark.rstudio.com/jkatz/SurveyMaps/.

Here are a couple of other resources that you might find helpful that are posted on the Microsoft downloads done by Stephen Few:

And then Polaris did a case study on how they ended up replacing QlikView with the Microsoft BI stack and demoed their dashboards using PerformancePoint and SSRS.

Here are a few links that Michael Wissink mentioned with regards to using perspectives in PerformancePoint and also security for the Save As My Defaults for the Apply Filters functionality

I also want to mention that we have now received our discount code for the PASS Summit 2014 Conference for the user group.  If you are planning on attending make sure you use the following code and you will save $150 and this will also help benefit our user group as well!

Event – PASS Summit 2014 Conference (Nov 3-7)

Minnesota Microsoft BI User Group
Discount Code: USNCS27

Thanks to everyone that attended our meeting and don’t forget there is a Special Training Event this month on Thursday, June 27 from 3 to 5 (seating is limited, so register now):

Deep Dive into ETL Implementation with SQL Server Integration Services

Registration Link

This session will focus on demonstrations and implementation details covering:

- Leveraging common ETL patterns/options to handle change data capture and covering new capabilities of SQL Server 2014

- Leveraging scripting in Data Flow and tips/tricks to improve performance

- Best practices in ETL Implementation with SSIS

- Executing projects with SSIS catalog; design considerations, best practices and performance monitoring.

At the end of the session, sample code and examples will be provided to all attendees. Complimentary refreshments will be provided during breaks.

About Our Speaker: Anton Rozenson is a Solutions Architect with GNet Group. He has in-depth experience in developing architectures, and leading business productivity projects that span the entire Microsoft Business Intelligence platform. Anton has worked on several successful solution development projects to build end-to-end Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server.

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PASS BA & BI Virtual Chapter June 2014 Sessions

Posted by denglishbi on June 5, 2014

Just wanted to do a quick post to let everyone know about the upcoming presentations this month for both the PASS Business Analytics and Business Intelligence Virtual Chapters.

June 10 – Administering and Managing the Power BI Environment (presented by Melissa Coates, BlueGranite)

Power BI for Office 365 is Microsoft’s new self-service BI offering. Just because it emphasizes self-service doesn’t mean a system administrator isn’t an important role! In this session we will discuss the overall system components and how a Power BI site in SharePoint Online differs from an on-premises SharePoint BI site. We will walk through how to best handle setting up connectivity to data sources, when a gateway is needed, and what data refresh capabilities exist. We will also consider how and when to create OData feeds from your corporate on-premises data sources and how those OData feeds affect Enterprise Data Search functionality.

June 19 – The Accidental Report Designer: Data Visualization Best Practices in SSRS (presented by Meagan Longoria, Valorem Consulting)

Whether you are a DBA, a developer, or an analyst, there is a good chance that you will have to create reports for coworkers, company executives, or clients. As with any UI design, careful consideration should be given to your data visualization design to ensure you are effectively communicating the intended message and providing a good user experience. While the principles are applicable across reporting platforms and tools, this session will contain demos and examples implemented in Reporting Services using SQL Server Data Tools. Learn how to make information (not just data) the focus of your report and provide your audience with something better than just shiny!

June 23 – Common Analysis Services Multidimensional cube design mistakes and how to avoid them (presented by Chris Webb, Crossjoin Consulting)

When you’re starting out on your first Analysis Services cube project it’s very easy to make design mistakes that can cause problems for you later on. In this session you’ll learn about the mostly frequently make Analysis Services design mistakes, what the consequences of making them are, and how to fix them.

Lots of great content to check out this month.  Make sure you visit the Virtual Chapter sites and you can also login to your myPASS account on the PASS site and join these chapters so you can be notified about upcoming sessions.


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TDWI Minneapolis Chapter Event: BI Strategy, KPI’s and Leading Indicators – June 10

Posted by denglishbi on May 23, 2014

The next TDWI Minneapolis Chapter meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 10 and it will take place at the Hilton in Bloomington, MN. The meeting will feature Laura Madsen and she will be talking about BI strategy.

http://tdwichapters.org/Minneapolis (or http://www.tdwimpls.org/)

Here are all of the details:

When: Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 8:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Where:  Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington

3900 American Blvd. West
Bloomington, MN 55437

Click here to register for the next upcoming event


8:00 – 8:30 a.m. – Networking and Registration
8:30 – 8:45 a.m. – Introduction and Chapter Business
8:45 – 9:30 a.m. – Healthcare Business Intelligence, Laura Madsen
9:30 – 10:00 a.m. – Break and Networking
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Continued: Healthcare Business Intelligence, Laura Madsen
11:00 – 11:30 p.m. – Q&A – Discussion
11:30 – 12:45 p.m. – Closing Comments & Wrap-Up

Click here to register for the next upcoming event


"BI Strategy, KPI’s and Leading Indicators"

Laura Madsen spearheads strategy and product development for the healthcare sector and works with key accounts across the country in the provider, payer, and healthcare manufacturing markets.   Even if you are not in the healthcare industry, learning about how they proactively monitor and measure their key performance indicators will still be fascinating and give insight on how other industries could learn from their lessons.

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Minnesota Microsoft BI User Group 2014 Q2 Meeting–June 3

Posted by denglishbi on May 22, 2014

The next MN Microsoft Business Intelligence User Group is coming up on Tuesday, June 3. This meeting we will have two presentations starting out with a presentation on effective visualizations and the second one is a case study by Polaris on using the Microsoft BI tools to monitor warranty claims and resolve quality issues. Please register so that we can have your name badge pre-printed.image

MN Microsoft BI User Group 2014 Q2 Meeting

Sponsored by:


Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2014image

Check In: 2:30 PM Event Time: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Location: Microsoft Technology Center – 3601 76th St W, Suite 600 Edina MN 55435 (in LOW 1, 2, and 3)

Please Register Now (Please register so that we can have your name badge pre-printed)


  • 2:30-3:00 : Registration
  • 3:00-3:15 : Microsoft BI User Group Updates & Announcements
  • 3:15-4:15 : Show Me the Numbers: Five Principles for Creating Effective Data Visualizations
  • 4:15-4:30 : Break
  • 4:30-5:30 : Using Microsoft BI for Early Warning, Warranty and Quality Management
  • 5:30-6:00 : Social and Networking


Session 1: Show Me the Numbers: Five Principles for Creating Effective Data Visualizations

Data visualization skills are essential in today’s data environment. It allows for actionable insight and faster decisions. Data visualization is a key skill in the current data and analytics mission and the Microsoft BI and Office tools are important delivery vehicles for organizations looking to make sense of their data with great charts and dashboards.

However great visualizations require that we make good decisions around a few essential design principles. Many of us don’t consider ourselves as designers or well-equipped to make good design decisions. This session will try to help by validating the important role of data visualization and provide five principles that are key to extracting value from your growing data environment. These five principles are distilled directly from great data visualization thought leaders like Edward Tufte and Stephen Few. You will explore these principles with specific best practices that work, sprinkled with a sampling of charts and approaches that fail to deliver insight. We will explain why that 3D exploding pie chart that you occasionally see was not designed with these principles in mind. Additionally, the session will provide resources that you can use to help you make good decisions and to get inspiration.

Speaker: Don Frederisken

Don Frederiksen (@donfred) is currently Data Services Manager at G&K Services where he leads a team of data and business intelligence professionals. G&K Services, Inc. is a service-focused market leader of branded uniform and facility services programs in the United States, and is the largest such provider in Canada.

As a veteran information architect and manager, he has shepherded the launch of business intelligence and data management programs at four different companies. As a BI developer he has created dashboard solutions at two organizations. As an educator and entrepreneur, Don has over twenty years of experience in helping professionals and organizations understand and maximize their technology investments. 

Session 2: Using Microsoft BI for Early Warning, Warranty and Quality Management

Polaris Industries, a pioneer in the snowmobile industry, is one of the world’s largest off-road vehicle manufacturers. Polaris needed much better visibility to component failures on products. Warranty claims account for a significant amount of money and some components failures could even possibly result in safety concerns. By providing advanced notice of failures, the service and engineering teams can react faster to remedy the issues by quickly getting answers to questions like, ‘what components have the most failures over time,’ ‘what regions have the highest number of claims and why,’ ‘how many average miles on units with claims,’ and many other metrics.

In this presentation we will see how Polaris leverages data and Microsoft BI tools to make it easier to monitor warranty claims and other data to spot and resolve quality issues swiftly in order to achieve and maintain its commitment to quality.

Speakers: John Antholz and Michael Wissink

John Antholz has worked in IT as a developer, DBA, Data Architect and manager for over 20 years, and is currently the BI Manager at Polaris Industries. The past five years he has been focused on how companies can leverage data as a strategic asset by working to implement business intelligence solutions in a cost effective manner, which offer flexibility for all levels of the organization.

Michael Wissink has spent the past two years working in Business Intelligence and SharePoint Administration at Polaris. He has experience using many different BI tools and has done everything from ETL in SSIS to dashboards in PerformancePoint. With development experience in QlikView, PowerPivot, SSIS, SSRS, SSAS and PerformancePoint, he has a broad skill set and has delivered many quality analytics solutions.

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PASS Business Analytics VC Meeting–May 29

Posted by denglishbi on May 20, 2014

The next PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter meeting is coming up next week. This month’s meeting is going to be talking about Power Query.

Here are the meeting details:

Date: Thursday, May 29BAVCLogo

Time: 4 to 5 p.m. (CDT)

Session: As data sources proliferate integration is becoming a key part of the analytical toolkit. Join Lee on a fact seeking journey as he uses Power Query to integrate and shape data.

1. Self service data integration – fact or fiction?
2. Power Query 101
3. Introduction to M
4. Data Enrichment

Presenter: Lee Hawthorn (b|t) is a Chartered Management Accountant who is responsible for BI and planning and analysis. Lee has worked on several BI projects. His battle scars have healed since Power BI arrived in his tray.

RSVP URL: http://bit.ly/PASSBAVC052914

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SQLSaturday 287 Madison Follow Up

Posted by denglishbi on April 30, 2014

Last month I had the pleasure of attending my first SQLSaturday event outside of Minnesota, I went to Madison, Wisconsin.  Not only did I get to attend and present at the main SQLSaturday event, I was also fortunate to be able to put on an all-day pre-conference event the Friday before – Self-Service BI to the Max.

So Thursday afternoon I headed out on my four hour road trip into the neighboring state to visit Madison (for my first time).


It started out raining (only one accident being reported by TomTom) and eventually turned to snow as I got into Wisconsin.  The roads were not too bad, but the two lane 94 driving in was a tad fun with all of the semi drivers;)  The drive was a tad long and driving solo makes it a bit boring.  I tried to check out a few of the water parks along the road and eventually made it into Madison and found the hotel, which was right next to the pre-conference event (walking distance).

I did some final preparation for the pre-con and drove around town a bit (roads are crazy, need a GPS for sure) and got confused with the medians that divided the left turn lanes in the streets (found that a odd and confusing).  The next day was the all-day pre-con and I got spiffed up in the brand new Power BI shirt:)

WP_20140419 1

The event went great, the location was nice and the 25 people in the room were great.  We went over the Power BI content (my pre-con was Self-Service BI to the Max), went over some demos, answered questions, and did some hands-on labs.  A fairly long day, but it was a great time meeting a new crowd and talking about Microsoft BI! (photo taken by Jes Borland – @grrl_geek)

Embedded image permalink

After the long day I headed over to the main SQLSaturday event location to check it out as well as stuff a few event bags (350!).  I also met a bunch of new people as well as SQL family that I knew by name, just have never met in-person.  One of the new people I met was Pat Wright (@SQLAsylum, a.k.a. PASS photographer) who took a bunch of awesome photos and a few down below that I am including and linking back to with his permission, thanks!


Once we were done with the bags is was off to find something a cool to drink (thanks to Ted Krueger, @onpnt, he tracked down a Mt. Dew to tide me over for a bit).  We headed over to Erin’s Snug Irish Pub for a little ale.

WP_20140419 4WP_20140419 2

Then it was over to the speaker’s dinner, non-stop action.

That was about all I could do on Friday, I was wiped out.  Time to get some shut eye and get ready for Saturday.  On Saturday morning I headed out with Dustin Mueller (@sqlcheesecake), Mike Donnelly (@sqlmd), and Tracy McKibben (@RealSQLGuy) for a little SQL run (just 4 miles).  It was a tad chilly on the first lap (remember, this was in March), but things were fine on the second one.  Unfortunately Jes Borland (@grrl_geek) was unable to join us because she was still recovering from an injury (she was with us in spirit and talk though).

Once I got back to the room after the run I got cleaned up and got a text from Ted inquiring if I could give a second BI presentation because they had a cancellation.  There were only a handful of BI sessions for the event, so they wanted to have another BI one to fill in.  I agreed and arranged another slide deck and demos for the second presentation (good thing I did an all-day pre-con the day before).

For the SQLSaturday event I did two presentations, fie the first one the room was a tad warm and it was standing room only, jam packed (awesome)!  I spoke on Delivering Self-Service BI with Power (new Excel 2013 features, Power Pivot, and Power View).  Then for my second presentation after lunch I spoke on “Getting Down with Power Query and Power Map”.

I was very pleased and glad to receive all of the evaluations and feedback.  On a scale of 1 to 5 I received good scores and the feedback was very helpful, lots of content to cover.


All-in-all I had a wonderful time, enjoyed my first out-of-state SQLSaturday event, looking forward to a few more.  I want to thank Ted and Jes for reaching out to me and Gina Meronek (@equerystrian) and the gang for putting on an awesome event, very well organized and an extremely helpful group over in WI.  Thanks for having me out and looking forward to returning next year:)
Read the rest of this entry »

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“Hello Wisconsin” SQLSaturday Madison #287

Posted by denglishbi on March 19, 2014

The time is ticking and we are just a week and a half away from the SQLSaturday Madison event which kicks off on Friday, March 28 with three pre-conference events – SQLSaturday Madison #287 Pre-Cons Registration Now Open.  Then on Saturday the main event and the schedule is rockin’ with a jam packed day with presentations from the SQL community, MVPs, and MCMs – SQLSaturday Madison #287 Schedule.  Just to name a few there is Jonathan Kehayias, Joseph Sack, Lara Rubbelke, Paul Timmerman, Jason Strate, Jes Borland, Ted Krueger, Steve Jones, Brent Ozar, Kalen Delaney, and many more!sqlsat madison

I will be heading over to Madison Thursday and will be doing an all-day pre-con event Self-Service BI to the Max.  I am looking forward to going over the Power BI suite covering Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View, Power Map, and more.  As of right now there are still a few seats remaining, so if you are attending the event or are in the general area get signed up and join us:)

On Saturday I will be continuing the adventure and doing my talk on Delivering Self-Service BI with Power.

Delivering Self-Service BI with Power

In this session, we will discuss the enhancements and new features that are provided with Excel 2013 as Microsoft continues its roadmap with self-service BI. First we will go over the changes that have been made in Excel 2013, covering the new features. From there we will show how Power Pivot models can be used to integrate and load data to be used for analysis. Lastly, we will look at using Power View inside Excel to provide self-service reporting capabilities that are highly interactive.

So what are you waiting for, head over to the event site and checkout what is going on and follow the hashtag #sqlsatMadison – SQLSaturday Madison #287 event home.

Hope to see you there!

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Book Review: Microsoft Tabular Modeling Cookbook

Posted by denglishbi on February 21, 2014

There is a new Analysis Services (SSAS) Tabular book that is available to own and add to your library.  The book is written by Paul te Braak, who is a lead business intelligence consultant in Australia and is one of the developers on the DAX Studio project, and he has put together an outstanding cookbook.  When the book was released I was surprised and excited.  I was surprised because I did not know that Paul was working on this (he is the sole author, big kudos to Paul), and excited because I knew it was going to be a good one.  I had this one on my radar list of books to add to my collection; I am definitely a big fan of the Packt Publishing Cookbook series style of books. Microsoft Tabular Modeling CookbookWhat I like about the books is that they introduce a topic or situation and then go over the solution in a very simple and easy to understand format – Getting Ready, How to do it, How it Works, There’s more.  Paul adds a lot of great insights in this book in explaining how the solutions work as well as including a bunch of ‘Tips’ along the way as well.

Here is when I first became aware that the book was released last month and posted the O’Reilly media deal:


So when I was asked by the publisher this past month to provide a review of the book I was more than happy to say ‘yes’.

Paul does a great job on slowly working you into the Tabular modeling concepts and the only tool you need to get going is Excel and the Power Pivot add-in.  Paul’s examples use Excel workbooks and flat files for the most part, so that makes it really easy to get started and get your learn on.

What is amazing is that this book is just over 300 pages and it is loaded with great content that covers items such as how to use Power Pivot, hierarchies, drilldown, parent-child hierarchies (including how to hidememberif in DAX), smart measures, smart keys, programmatic access in Excel – cube functions and VBA, querying with DAX, Power View, and more!  Simply amazing, Paul does a fabulous job and this is a great intro book that progresses into advanced topics and has great examples, tips, and insights that are a big time value add.

Here is a outline of the chapters:

Chapter 1: Getting Started with Excel
Chapter 2: Importing Data
Chapter 3: Advanced Browsing Features
Chapter 4: Time Calculations and Date Functions
Chapter 5: Applied Modeling
Chapter 6: Programmatic Access via Excel
Chapter 7: Enterprise Design and Features
Chapter 8: Enterprise Management
Chapter 9: Querying the Tabular Model with DAX
Chapter 10: Visualizing Data with Power View

Book link – Microsoft Tabular Modeling Cookbook.

I would definitely rate this as a must have for anyone doing tabular SSAS development and give it 5 out of 5 stars – image

Awesome job Paul and thanks for writing the book and sharing!

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