PASS Business Analytics Conference Day 1 Keynote

We start with PASS President Bill Graziano who leads off with talking about the growth of data analytics over the past few years. Connect.Share.Learn. If you are reading this and don’t know, SQL Saturday Chicago is this weekend. I’ll be presenting there.

Matt Wolken from Dell/Quest takes the stage to discuss Business Intelligence. Talks about the rate of change in the BI space. Talking about how the shifting demographics of social media are influencing spending. Mentioning great increases in mobile computing. Mentions the tweet from the Hudson River. Analytics used to backwards looking, now it’s looking forward and revenue driving. Companies that implement BI and BA solutions tend to be more profitable (13%). Dell has a new social command center to monitor feedback and support.

Now, we welcome Microsoft Keynote speakers Amir Netz and Kamal Hathi to the stage. Amir, is talking about his Apple II and how he programmed extensively on it. Mentions using VisiCalc and Lotus 123. Talking about how spreadsheets evolved into OLAP. Kamal is now talking about how OLAP evolved into Hadoop, and how do business users understand usage of tools in the big data space. Yet it all comes back to excel, I suspect this will come back to Powerview and data explorer. I shall refrain from editorial content, but ZOOMIT. Excel is getting much better at dealing with external data. Compares evolution of cars from model T to BMW. Amir is talking about how BI is now at the stage of the early slide projector. PowerView is awesome.

Microsoft is doing a nice job of using sentiment analysis from Twitter in this demo, to demonstrate American Idol success predictions. The data shows that positive sentiment is key into American Idol. Explains how Twitter has changed the dynamics of how people watch TV. This means if you are showing something that should be live–SHOW IT LIVE (I’m talking about bike and F1 racing, NBC Sports Network)

Seeing a new excel plugin called geo flow, which lays out spatial data within excel, this functionality has been getting better, but this is really nice. GeoFlow has the ability to zoom in via touch, very nice, and additionally it has a replay functionality. Outstanding graphics and functionality.

And that’s a wrap…more tomorrow

unSQL Friday–Lessons Learned while Presenting

Jen McCown (blog|twitter) has organized a great topic for this unSQL Friday–lessons learned while presenting. Like she mentioned in her post–these don’t necessarily have to be tragedies, just things you’ve picked up along the way while presenting.

Fortunately, in my few years of doing technical presentations, I’ve never had a major demo failure, or a laptop crap out, but I have picked up some tips and hints along the way. So here goes:

  1. PowerPoint presentation mode, for the win. This is feature in PowerPoint that allows you to have your slides up on the monitor, while looking at your presentation notes and timer on your monitor. I kind of use it like a mini-teleprompter. The one pain point of this is, it does make a bit harder to go in and out of demos, but I feel like that headache is easier than dealing with 10 pages of 16 point speech notes.
  2. Get a presentation mouse. I use a Microsoft presentation mouse, that I was able to buy off of eBay for about $20. It has a timer, which is a nice feature that I like to use. The presentation mouse allows me to move around the room, which leads me to my next point.
  3. Engage, engage, engage the audience. Some of the best presenters I’ve seen do this the best, but try to plan a couple of points in your presentation where you can engage the audience. In my recent SQL Azure presentation, I sent an Azure Reporting Services report to an audience member who had a Windows Phone 7. It breaks up the monotony of a technical presentation, and helps keep people from falling asleep–I’m looking at you guy in row 3.

One last note, based on some feedback I received from SQL Rally, it’s generally not the speakers responsibility for how comfortable the chairs and the room are. If you have a problem with the room please see the conference organizers, please use the evaluation form to comment on me, so I can improve my talks in the future.

If you are reading this, and you are not a regular presenter, but would like to get in on the act, talk to your local user group, they are always on the lookout for speakers, and many organize special events where first time speakers can talk for 10-15 minutes.

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