Dan English's BI Blog

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

Power BI Preview–The Designer

Posted by denglishbi on April 9, 2015

We will continue exploring the ‘new’ Power BI Preview and in this post we will look at the Power BI Designer.  The Power BI Designer is the new download tool that you can get (for FREE) that provides the ability to get data, transform it, add calculated columns, merge, etc. (Power Query) and create reports (like Power View – but the Silverlight is gone! but features not completely identical yet, few more visualizations added though).

NOTE: The Power BI capabilities that have been added to Excel over the years with the add-ins and some are becoming native, are now transitioning into the designer to allow for more rapid releases and one tool versus the different add-in components.  And did I mention…it is FREE?!?

To get started you will first need to download and install the designer.  You can check out one of my previous posts on the walkthrough of installing and highlighting the features – Installing Power BI Designer Preview Experience.  You can download the designer from the downloads location on the Power BI site.  In this example I have the latest build that was made available at end of March 2015 – version 2.21.3975.261.

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Once you have this downloaded and installed you will then launch the tool to get started.

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On first launch you have the ability to access forums, the team blog, tutorials, and videos.  The team has done an outstanding job on creating lots of great content right out of the gate!

If you are familiar with Power Query then you will be very comfortable with the get data portion and creating the queries that can then be used to load the model to be used for report creation.

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In this screenshot you will see that there has been a recent update and a new source is available for Google Analytics!  This was recently announced in the blog here – 7 New Updates to the Power BI Designer Preview (March 2015).

In this example I will go back to a previous one I did when I first covered Power Query (previously known as Data Explorer) – Installing Data Explorer Preview & Demo with IMDB Data.  I will try and recreate this solution with the new designer and you can see the comparison.  At the end I will note a few of the differences that I have come across so far.

First I will get the data, this time around I am going to get the core data from the IMDB website like I did previously, but then I will use a function to do a call and retrieve JSON from http://omdbapi.com.

Original site view on IMDB (click image to go to the actual site)

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Initial query results getting data from the web

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Function created that will then provide additional information about the movie such as genre, actors, awards, runtime, rating, plot, votes, poster url, etc.  In my initial example I did I used VBA code and parsed XML data, this time around I am doing this all with Power Query functionality.

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Now combining this function call into a calculated column in the first query we end up with our complete data set.

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We can then create our reports.

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If you compare this to my original post from the Data Explorer you will notice that they are a tad different.

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So some of the items that I came across in the new designer are the following (as of 4/9/2015):

– No image support in data model, not able to access the model yet to complete this setup, plus not able to include or embed images

– No ability to control the formatting of the numeric values as far as number of decimals, to include commas, currency

– No data card title support, this goes back to not being able to access the model and complete the setup

– Not able to resize columns and easily resize items such as data cards

– Not able to add data labels to visuals

– Not able to remove a sort on a table once it has been triggered (I accidently did this a couple of times, clicked on a column)

– No textbox at all which is possibly the #1 item used today in Power View

– No play axis support in scatter charts

– No color, styles, or theme support options to control color options

– Limited filter options (need to drag-and-drop to filters), no pinned filters, and just multi select checkboxes (so hope you don’t have a long list, numeric values do have some extra options)

Some of the things that you will see that have been added are the following:

– easily change visuals when item selected

– new visuals that were added such as – treemap, filled map, radial gauge, funnel, and combo charts (require same axis if you combine them)

– new relationship options to provide support out-of-the-box for many-to-many

Now once you have your data and reports created the next step is to save your file (pbix extension) and then if you go back to the Power BI site in the Get Data section you can upload your file to a dashboard (make sure you are in the dashboard you want this added or create a new one first).

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Once you have the file uploaded you will see your reports and dataset as well. In the next post we will take a look at adding items to the dashboard and exploring the Q&A capabilities.

For a recap of previous posts check out the following:

Getting Started with the Power BI Preview

Power BI Preview Layout Overview

Power BI Preview–Getting the Data

If you liked the example and want to check out the file you can download it from here http://1drv.ms/1JqmwaF

NOTE: I have set the File Settings in this file to ignore Privacy levels, otherwise I was being prompted for each call to the web to get the images for the move posters that are being pulled into the model (ready for when the support for images and accessing the data model is available – thanks to Kasper for his help on this – Loading an image into the Model using Power Query).

Hopefully in a couple of weeks we will be able to expand on this example once we can access the data model, can’t wait!

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PASS Business Analytics VC April Meeting – Transforming Reporting Requirements Into a Visual Masterpiece

Posted by denglishbi on April 2, 2015

The next PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter meeting is coming up next week on Thursday, April 9.  This month we welcome Microsoft SQL Server MVP Paul Turley.

April 9 – Transforming Reporting Requirements Into a Visual MasterpieceBAVCLogo (1)

Abstract – Starting with an understanding of user objectives and business needs, we’ll talk about choosing the right visual theme for a report or dashboard; choosing the right tool and then explore techniques to deliver a functional reporting experience. We’ll talk about reporting on different data sources such as a SQL Server data mart, SSAS multidimensional & SSAS Tabular model. We’ll also consider a choice of visualization tools like SSRS, Power View and Excel Services.

Bio – Paul Turley (Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter) is a Mentor with SolidQ and a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He consults, writes, speaks, teaches & blogs about business intelligence and reporting solutions. He works with companies around the world to visualize and deliver critical information to make informed business decisions. He is a Director of the Oregon SQL PASS chapter & user group, the lead author of Professional SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services and 13 other titles from Wrox, Packt & Microsoft Press.

–> REGISTER NOW <–

This month we will also be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card as well!  You need to not only register for the event, but also attend in order to qualify for the give away.

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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Power BI Preview–Getting the Data

Posted by denglishbi on April 1, 2015

In the first two posts we looked at Getting Started with Power BI Preview and then Power BI Preview Layout Overview.  The next item that you will want to do now that you are somewhat familiar with the “new” Power BI is getting data to create datasets, reports, and dashboards!

Power BI Preview is known as a SaaS (software as a service) – a web-based service that you can leverage to deliver your solutions.  As mentioned in the first post there is a free as well as subscription based offering ($9.99 per user/month) . There are also canned built-in solutions that you can leverage right out-of-the-box.  So if you are using or have any of the following services or functionality the time it will take for you to getting insights is greatly reduced, you can get a kick start to your reporting with just a few clicks:

– Excel workbooks: leverage existing Excel files; could contain tables, charts, data models, Power View reports; these would be uploaded to the Power BI Preview site

– Power BI Designer File: we will cover this more in the next post, but if you download the designer and then load data, create reports, and save the file you can upload this into the Power BI Preview site

– SQL Server Analysis Services: with the downloadable connector that was mentioned in the second post for the layout overview you have the ability to query on-premise tabular SSAS databases

– Online services: if you are using GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SendGrid, or Zendesk you can connect using your credentials and there are pre-built templates that will be created for you with dashboard, reports, and dataset to jump start and get quick insights to the service and your usage

– Retail Analysis Sample: the initial sample that gets displayed and you see in the first two posts; sample file you can get familiar with to see functionality and test drive

To get started simply click on the Get Data (item #2 in the Layout Overview post).

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Now you will see the list of the options you have to get started to work with data.

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As an example let’s take a look at the GitHub option we will go to GitHub –> Connect.

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For this example I am going to connect to the d3 repository (d3 is a JavaScript visualization library for HTML and SVG).

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You will then be prompted for authorization and I am already signed into GitHub. This is using oAuth.

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This will now create a new dataset, reports, and dashboard. It will connect and begin to import the data that will populate the dashboard and you will be able to immediately get some insights!

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And if you look at the reports that were added you can see there is additional information that you can review and add to the dashboard and you can also create more reports and enhance the out-of-the-box template that was provided.

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Pretty amazing, and this is all free!

In the next post we will take a look at using the Power BI Designer to create our own dataset and reports that we can then use to load into the Power BI web site.

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SQLSaturday #387 Madison–April 11 #SQLSatMadison

Posted by denglishbi on March 30, 2015

“Hello Wisconsin” round 2:)  We are just two weeks out now and the next SQLSaturday #387 Madison is coming up (interested, last year it was #287) on April 11, my second trip out to Madison, WI.  The event officially kicks off on Friday, April 10 with three pro-conference events image

Then on Saturday the main event will begin and the schedule is loaded with 8 tracks and 40 presentations!

I will be presenting at 10:30 in Room 309 (Track 5)

The "New" Power BI Self-Service Walkthrough

In this session, we will discuss the changes that are coming and the new features that are provided with the Power BI Designer as Microsoft continues its roadmap with self-service BI. If you haven’t seen this yet, Power BI features are now available in a standalone application outside of Excel! You will see with the new designer that you will be able to easily integrate data, create stunning and interactive visualizations, and even create cloud based Power BI dashboards to share and it is even Free!!

Heading out there with me from my team is Rick Bielawski and he will be in Room 220 (Track 2) at 9:00

Mastering queries into XML data.

If you’ve never queried an XML column you definitely want to attend. While targeted to beginners this isn’t a "Just do this" session. After this hour I’d like you to truly understand even subtle nuances of basic query syntax. Seasoned veterans stand a fair chance of learning something new.

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 #387 event home.

Hope to see you there!

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Power BI Preview Layout Overview

Posted by denglishbi on March 26, 2015

In the first post, Getting Started with Power BI Preview, I discussed briefly the “new” Power BI and went over how to get access to this service.  Now that you have access I want to go over the layout of the land and show the different items you have access to on the Power BI Preview site.

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1. Microsoft Power BI Public Preview – this is your landing / home page. If you access other areas such as getting data, reports, datasets, etc. you can click on the top right to return to the home page to view your currently selected dashboard.

2. Get Data – using the Power BI Preview web site interface this is the area where you will be able to bring in your data to create datasets, reports, and eventually dashboards.  In the next post of this series we will explore this area in more detail.

3. Content Pane – you have the ability to search and filter the existing content you have available in the datasets, reports, and dashboards.  These areas expand and collapse and the plus sign next to the datasets will send you to Get Data and the one next to Dashboards will allow you to create a new dashboard.  Once you create a new dashboard you can then get data, create reports, and pin items to it.

4. Dashboard Title & Share – the current dashboard title you are viewing and a link that allows to to invite others to view as well as possibly share your dashboard you have created along with the data.

5. Q&A – this is the natural query language capability, the same one that is provided in the current Power BI in Office 365.  You have the ability to ask questions of your data just like asking questions on Bing or Google to get results.

6. Dashboard content – this is the content that has been selected from the reports that were developed on the dataset as well as results possibly from Q&A that have been pinned.  These items (tiles) can be resized and rearranged once they have been pinned. This reminds me of the Windows 8 and Windows Phone start screen – live tiles.

7. Support, Help, and Feedback menu – just grouping these last remaining items together that are in the top-right.

  • The first icon which looks like the typical settings / configuration icon we are used to is actually the download area and will provide access to the Power BI for iOS app, Power BI Designer Preview, and the Analysis Services Connector Preview.
  • The second icon is the Support / Help icon which gives you access to Getting Started material, Contact Support (email the team), What Should We Build Next (forum and voting area), Help Topics, Power BI for Developers (yes there is a developer area and API information), About Power BI (version number information).
  • The third icon is simply the feedback one to rate and let the team know what you think of the Power BI Preview.
  • The final icon is your account and provides option to sign out.

Next up, we will go over creating your first dashboard, dataset, and reports.  Stay tuned for more!

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Data Security–Superior Spotlight 5 part blog series

Posted by denglishbi on March 25, 2015

This 5 part blog (3rd part was broken out into 3 separate parts) series on Data Security was written by Senior BI Consultant and colleague Rick Bielawski from my BI team. I wanted to share the series and hope you find it interesting and make you think when it comes to the data that you work with and are in responsible for.

Here is an intro from the first part to get a feel for what the series will cover:

This blog is the first in a three-part series describing how to properly assess your data security needs. Like buying any insurance, there is no reason to pay for protection you don’t need. Yet, your business can’t afford to leave significant risk on the table. To get all (and only) useful protection, you must become your own actuary, quantifying and prioritizing potential losses and then developing a plan to mitigate loss cost effectively.

In this series, part one covers sources of risk. Part two gives you an idea of the significant number of attack vectors possible. Part three talks about the mindset needed to design proper protections and how to look at the extent to which various protection types mitigate various risks.

Data Security: Critical Knowledge (part 1)image

Data Security: Mechanisms for Malicious Loss (part 2)

Data Security: Critical Knowledge – Designing Protection (part 3a)

Data Security: Critical Knowledge – Design Approaches (part 3b)

Data Security: Critical Knowledge – Implementations (part 3c)

I hope you find the information useful.

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Getting Started with the Power BI Preview

Posted by denglishbi on March 24, 2015

Last year Microsoft began working on a “new” Power BI version / capability.  This was released to a limited group of users for feedback and then last December was released within the U.S. and I posted this first post – Installing Power BI Designer Preview Experience.  Now this past week it is available in over 140 countries – Power BI Preview now available worldwide.image

So what it so special about this new experience?

Well first of all to get started using Power BI you no longer need to use Excel.  Excel has been the main driver of Power BI capabilities and the container where data and reports would be created to then share with others through SharePoint and/or Power BI in Office 365.  Now the data can be collected using either the new Power BI Designer or directly through the new browser based Power BI preview experience.

The next item that makes this interesting / attractive is the price.  Yes, how much does this end up costing you?  Well to get started all you need is to create an account and the rest is actually free.  Yes, that is correct, free.  Of course the “Free” version does come with some limitations, but for the most part you have the same capabilities as the version that is the paid Pro service of $9.99 user/month.  And that is price cut from the previous Power BI online experience of $40/month.  Here is more information about the new pricing and feature comparison between the Free and Pro paid versions – Power BI Preview Pricing.

In order to get started you simply need to do the following:

1. Go to the following web site – http://powerbi.com

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2. Next sign up by entering your business or educational email address

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3. Complete the Microsoft Power BI sign up process by following the link in the email you receive

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4. Once you enter in the information and click start you will get a confirmation and depending on the current usage you might have to wait 15 minutes or so for everything to get spun up and ready for you to begin

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5. Sign In to the Power BI site specifying that you are using a work or school account

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Now in my case this is actually a personal Microsoft account and not provided by my organization, I am simply using my work email for my Microsoft account.  I will now switch over and login with my organization provided email, I just wanted to show what the process would look like to get started with the process.

6. Once you are logged in you will now be able to access the Microsoft Power BI Public Preview site

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That is all it takes, so in less than 15 minutes or so you can be logged in and ready to roll.  Next up, we will go over a quick tour of the layout of the site.  Stay tuned!

Posted in Power BI | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter February Meeting – Crime Analytics & Predictions System

Posted by denglishbi on February 24, 2015

The next PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter meeting is coming up this week on Thursday, February 26.  This month we welcome Third Eye founder Dj Das.

February 26 – Crime Analytics & Predictions SystemBAVCLogo (1)

Abstract

Committing Crime is the final frontier – where a human starts to degenerate into a renegade, a social waste and capable of causing huge personal and financial loss to individuals, businesses and the government. Thus, battling crime, reducing the number of occurrences, preventing and predicting crime has become a huge commitment for police forces around the world.
This webinar along with a live demo will showcase how police departments can leverage predictive analytics on Big Data to understand the various factors that affect crime and develop comprehensive strategies for countering them.

The Big Data Analytics Demo will slice & dice, analyze & visualize crime data (Open Data) made publicly available by the City of Chicago.

In this one-hour webinar, we will showcase & discuss the following Microsoft products:

Azure:
– HDInsight
– SQL Azure

Power BI:
– Power Q&A, Power View, Power Pivot, Power Query, Power Map

AUDIENCE
Technical & Management leaders.

Bio – Dj Das is a senior-level consulting services & product executive with a deep technology bend and global operations background. He has a visionary entrepreneurial spirit, and proven track record as creator of commercially successful enterprise and consumer web applications. He has delivered many new products to markets for both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. He is a results oriented, decisive leader who combines an entrepreneurial spirit with corporate-refined execution in product marketing, business strategy and planning, user experience, delivery management and revenue optimization. He is an adept strategic partnerships builder across global businesses. Dj founded Third Eye in 2009 with a single vision – to provide consulting services & solutions around Big Data, even when Big Data was not such a buzz word. He brings in strategy, execution & operational values to Third Eye. Dj is an avid Big Data evangelist, runs & operates a meetup group named “Big Data Cloud” which is a not-for-profit organization for evangelizing and training around Big Data & Cloud technologies. The group has 3400+ members and has monthly meetups and annual events. Dj is also the founder & managing partner of Das Capital, LLC. through which he makes indirect & passive private equity investments. His previous investments are NeoTeris (acquired by NetScreen), Indivos (acquired by PayByTouch), YouSendIt (private exit), Efficient Frontier (acquired by Adobe Systems), Kosmix (acquired by WalMart), Aster Data Systems (acquired by Teradata), theFind.com, Mobissimo Travel, Jasper Design Automation and Xora among others. Prior to Third Eye, Dj served as the VP of Business Development for LG CNS America where he developed and executed strategies to launch LG CNS’s consulting services on American soil. He opened up initial marquee accounts and brought the first dollar in. Previously, he worked in numerous engineering roles at Microsoft, Siebel Systems among others. Dj received his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Communications from National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, Haryana, India.

–> REGISTER NOW <–

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

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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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MN PASS BI User Group Q1 2015 Meeting – March 3

Posted by denglishbi on February 12, 2015

The first meeting of the 2015 year is coming up in a couple of weeks on Tuesday, March 3 for the MN Microsoft BI User Group.  This meeting will have two presentations, the first one is a healthcare case study and the second one is on Power Query.  Please register so that we can have your name badge pre-printed.


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MN Microsoft BI User Group 2015 Q1 Meeting

Sponsored by:

image[12]MSFT_logo_Page

Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Check In: 2:45 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)

Agenda:

  • 2:45-3:00 : Registration
  • 3:00-3:15 : Microsoft BI User Group Updates & Announcements
  • 3:15-4:15 : Healthcare Case Study: DW and BI
  • 4:15-4:30 : Break
  • 4:30-5:30 : Power Query: Data Chemistry for the Masses
  • 5:30-6:00 : Eval Collection, Prizes, Networking, and Pizza

Presentations:

Session 1: Healthcare Case Study: DW and BI

Implementing and enhancing a vendor supplied Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence solution in Healthcare is a significant undertaking. Join Ann Warner and Ross McNeely as they discuss the benefits of launching a vendor supplied solution, and the challenges in expanding the data model to meet the needs at HealthEast Care System. As an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) HealthEast required a new platform to support new analytics across current and legacy systems. We will breakdown how dashboards were developed to help drive down duplicate patient records using Microsoft’s MDS and Power BI. Analyzing health systems and payers will give hospitals and clinics insight into care quality, cost accountability, and patient loyalty.

Speaker: Ann Warner and Ross McNeely

Ann Warner is the Data Engineering and Application Manager at HealthEast Care System.  As the Manager of the Data Engineering team, Ann is responsible for building and managing the team for Data Governance, Operational Data Store, and Epic’s Cogito Data Warehouse.  Ann has experience creating and staffing data warehouse development efforts for higher education, finance, banking, credit card risk, manufacturing, logistics, sales, and marketing.

Ross McNeely is a Principle Consultant and the BI Practice Manager at Tail Wind. Ross has presented at DAMA-MN, SQLSaturday, PASSMN, Microsoft BI User Group MN, and ERworld 2012. Ross adds real-world examples from various industries in his presentations. Regardless if you have a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skill set, Ross will provide a solid foundation for each topic he presents.

Session 2: Power Query: Data Chemistry for the Masses

ETL Developers have being doing chemistry with data for years in tools like SQL Server Integration Services. These tools require training, experience, and time that few business users have. But in the age of self-service BI, those business users need a way to shape data to support their analysis.
This session will show how Power Query can be easily used to take advantage of data’s properties to drive the change we need to support our goals.
We will discuss/demonstrate:

  • The simple process of accessing a wide variety of data sources
  • The ease with which simple transformations can be achieved using the Power Query Ribbon
  • Power Query’s fantastic ability to travel through time to see every step taken with the data
  • The foundations of the Power Query Formula Language, informally known as "M"
  • Using "M" to take Power Query WAY beyond what the Ribbon has to offer.

Come learn about what may well be the most exciting member of the Power BI family.

Speaker: Mark Vaillancourt

Mark Vaillancourt is a SQL Server MVP and a Business Intelligence Enterprise Consultant for Digineer, a Microsoft partner based in Plymouth, MN. He has been working with SQL Server since 2007 and holds the MCITP – Business Intelligence Developer 2008 certification. With a background in Theater and Improvised Comedy, Mark makes sure that his presentations are both informative and fun.

PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 Discount Code – save $150 – USMO03

Save $150 on your registration to PASS Business Analytics Conference, April 21-22 in Santa Clara, CA, using our chapter’s discount code: USMO03. Feel free to share this discount code with friends or colleagues!
http://passbaconference.com/2015/Home.aspx

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Free Business Analytics webinar marathon tomorrow, Tue. Feb 3!

Posted by denglishbi on February 2, 2015

Don’t miss out tomorrow on Tuesday, February 3 for the free Business Analytics Webinar Marathon. You’ll get a taste of what’s to come at the BA Conference in April and skills to enhance your organization’s analytics potential the same day!

Here are the six back to back sessions scheduled for BA marathon:

Session Title – Date/Time

Introducing the Reimagined Power BI Platform (Jen Underwood) – 03 Feb 2015, 14:00 GMT

Unlocking Big Data: The Power of Cognitive Computing (James Kobielus) – 03 Feb 2015, 15:00 GMT

What’s next for Business Analytics in the 21st Century? (Hyoun Park) – 03 Feb 2015, 16:00 GMT

Visualization Tools for Data Discovery (Lynn Langit) – 03 Feb 2015, 17:00 GMT

An Overview of Predictive Analytics for Practitioners (Dean Abbott) – 03 Feb 2015, 18:00 GMT

Productivity Revolution in Excel (Avi Singh) – 03 Feb 2015, 19:00 GMT

RSVP NOW!

Click here to register for BA MARATHON!

Also, if you are planning on attending the PASS BA Conference you can use the following discount code and save $150 off registration!

Discount code: PASSBAVC

Hope that you are able to join one of the sessions tomorrow, I will be hosting the 4th session done by Lynn Langit!

Enjoy!

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