Dan English's BI Blog

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

Archive for September, 2014

Speaking: MindSurf Conference–Oct 9

Posted by denglishbi on September 26, 2014

The 7th Annual MindSurf conference in Minneapolis is just two weeks away and I will be speaking there in the Office Technology Track!  I will be talking about empowering data analysts using Excel and the Power BI features including Power Query and Power Map.

Delivering Self-Service BI with Power

Dan English, Superior Consulting Services
Session Level: 200 – Intermediate
Audience: Business analysts

In this session, we will discuss the new additions made available to Excel as Microsoft continues its roadmap with self-service BI. You will see how Microsoft has empowered you to discover, analyze and visualize data all on your own. We will use Power Query to load and integrate data into a model that can then be analyzed and enhanced with Power Pivot. From there, we will dive into Power Map; you will see how to visualize and create tours of your data to explore and share your insights!

Along with me presenting at MindSurf my fellow colleague and BI team member Eric Ness will also be presenting in the Business Analysis Track on forecasting!

Forecasting: Methods and Benefits

Eric Ness, Superior Consulting Services
Session Level: 200 – Intermediate
Audience: Business analysts, data analysts

Forecasting techniques gives business analysts a peek behind the scenes of what will happen to the business in the future. Forecasting can be used with any quantitative amount that fluctuates over time, such as revenue or costs. Recently, software vendors have released tools that hide the complexity of the techniques behind automatic tests and a graphical interface. This session will discuss the methods and benefits of forecasting as well as an overview of available software.

In total there are 8 tracks with 32 sessions and 29 speakers!  Check out the event here – MindSurf Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

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PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter September Meeting–Insider’s Intro to Microsoft Azure ML

Posted by denglishbi on September 17, 2014

The next PASS BA Virtual Chapter meeting is tomorrow, Thursday September 18 at 12 EST and Mark Tabladillo will be presenting on the recently released Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

September 18 – Insider’s Introduction to Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (AzureML)BAVCLogo (1)

Abstract: Microsoft has introduced a new technology for developing analytics applications in the cloud. The presenter has an insider’s perspective, having actively provided feedback to the Microsoft team which has been developing this technology over the past 2 years.

This session will:

1) provide an introduction to the Azure technology including licensing,

2) provide demos of using R version 3 with AzureML, and

3) provide best practices for developing applications with Azure Machine Learning.

Bio: Mark Tabladillo is a Microsoft MVP and SAS expert. 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 also teaches part-time with the University of Phoenix. He tweets @marktabnet and blogs at http://marktab.net/



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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TDWI Minneapolis Chapter Event: BI Strategy, KPI’s and Leading Indicators – Sept 8

Posted by denglishbi on September 4, 2014

The next TDWI Minneapolis Chapter meeting is next week Monday, September 8 and it will take place at the Courtyard by Marriot in Bloomington, MN. The meeting will feature Wayne Eckerson and he will be talking about the new analytical ecosystem.

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

Here are all of the details:

When: Monday, September, 2014, 8:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Where:  Courtyard at Marriot/Bloomington

7800 Bloomington Avenue South

Bloomington, MN 55425

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. – The New Analytical Ecosystem, Wayne Eckerson
9:30 – 10:00 a.m. – Break and Networking
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Continued: The New Analytical Ecosystem, Wayne
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


"The New Analytical Ecosystem: Bridging the Worlds of BI and Big Data"

Wayne will be talking about The New Analytical Ecosystem: Bridging the Worlds of BI and Big Data.  For too long, organizations have tried to shoehorn all analytical users and activities into a single, monolithic architecture. Forward-thinking organizations are now augmenting their classic report-centric data warehouses with real-time, analytical, and content-based engines to support multiple types of users, data, and applications. This presentation describes the fundamental business forces at work that make it difficult to deliver successful BI programs. It then describes a new organizational architecture, data architecture, and analytical architecture that enable organizations to optimize business dynamics and reap value from their data analytics assessments. In short, the presentation shows how to create a new analytical ecosystem for the 21st century.

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Minnesota Microsoft BI User Group 2014 Q3 Meeting–Sept 9

Posted by denglishbi on September 3, 2014

The next MN Microsoft BI user group meeting is coming up next Tuesday on September 9 from 3 to 6.  This meeting will have two presentations, the first one on forward looking dashboards & KPIs and the second on is a case study on monitoring Analysis Services usage.  Please register so that we can have your name badge pre-printed.image

MN Microsoft BI User Group 2014 Q3 Meeting

Sponsored by:


Date: Tuesday, September 9, 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 : Looking Through the Windshield: Creating Forward-Looking Dashboards and KPIs
  • 4:15-4:30 : Break
  • 4:30-5:30 : Case Study: Monitoring SSAS Usage with Extended Events
  • 5:30-6:00 : Social and Networking


Session 1: Looking Through the Windshield: Creating Forward-Looking Dashboards and KPIs

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.

Speaker: Brian Larson

Brian Larson is the Chief Technology Officer at Superior Consulting Services and has presented at SQL Server Connections, the 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.”

Session 2: Case Study: Monitoring SSAS Usage with Extended Events

How do you measure the success of a Self Service Business Intelligence initiative? While the answer to that question has several components, a vital one is Adoption. Are people using the assets created for that initiative? Since Business Intelligence is using data to make better decisions, why not use data to help answer this question? At Capella University, we did just that.

This case study will describe how we used Analysis Services Extended Events to track the usage of Tabular Models that Capella built for Self Service BI users. We will demonstrate the following:

  • The business case for capturing asset usage
  • The particular goals Capella had in this case
  • How easy it is to get started with SSAS Extended Events (far easier than it looks)
  • The end-to-end solution created: from the event trace itself thru to the Power Pivot model created for analysis
  • Lessons learned (some learned the hard way)

We hope you will come away from this presentation with less trepidation around SSAS Extended Events as well as a foundation you can use for your own solution.

Speakers: Prashant Tolia and Mark Vaillancourt

Prashant Tolia is the Senior Technical Architect for the Information Delivery department at Capella University. He has over 16 years of experience in IT and a passion for Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing. Prashant earned his MBA form Capella and holds certifications as an Oracle DBA and in Cognos BI suite. In his current role, Prashant ensures that all technical solutions are cost effective, appropriate, and adhere to Capella standards and best practices.

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.

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