Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BI Conference - SQL Bits III

Once again I went to the SQLBIts conference as I promised. You can refresh the previous event following this link
I started to write this post in the University room booked to attend the SQLBits III event. Almost persons that attended to the event already returned to their homes, and unfortunately I had flight only Sunday morning at 8 am. I'm joined with my friends Bruno Ferreira (Portuguese like me that came from Irland), Alex Whittles (that came from London with his boss) and Tomislav Piasevoli (that came from Zagreb, Croacia). The event was significantly more interesting with these 3 excelent guys! I attached to this post several photos only to refresh the memory of people that was there and allow others to imagine how the event was.I have several things to write about this weekend in London, which was extremely good in some points and a litle dispappoint in others.

The University of Hertfordshire
This is the University where the conference toke place. Is a nice place but too quite for a person that goes alone from another country… Bruno was also there but he went to Irland on Saturday after the conference…

Last SQL Bits, in Birmingham (UK), the location of conference was better because it was near the city centre and because I went with my girlfriend, she could went to shopping while I was attending the event

The Training Day (Friday)
SQL Bits III organization included an extra day for intensive training that cost between 150£ and 200£ depending on the selected subjects. For those persons that never saw MSFT BI Tools and Business Intelligence approachs from Kimball an Inmon, I think that was good, but for others was extremely basic. But was my fault, because Chris Webb advised me… but I’m disappointed because I didn’t see the same organization and the same environment in training day (on Friday) than the free conference day (on Saturday) … and for those (like me and Bruno) who payed for the training day we make a question for ourselves… for which day we payed 150£?! Why we make the question? The reason is simple… the free conference had several partners (Microsoft, Quest, Xlcubed and others), extra events like dinner with beers and pizzas, more than 400 persons, a party and some other interesting stuff. We also thought the training day would be an intensive training using the laptop and making some advanced labs mainly in MDX and Data Mining.

The Conference Day (Saturday)
Some photos of conference environment and a photo of Bruno picking some pizza and beer! Bruno is the guy with black t-shirt! You can also see the taller guy… He’s Alex Whittles that I referenced before and he’s a cool and friendly guy!

The Conference Day Sessions
I’ll describe a a little resume of each session that I attended, maybe I will go into detail in a next post, but for now, I’ll do a short briefing.

Alan Mitchell session
Getting more value from your data through data mining
After seeing the Rafal Webcasts, it’s difficult to find a better session about Data Mining, but Allan was really great and focus on excel 2007 add-In for Data Mining. Allan showed how the business user can apply a Data Mining algorithm without statistical and developing skills. Don’t need to know formulas, don’t need to know programming, it’s all there!!!

The hard task will be the ETL that is the most important step in a Data Mining project. If the dataset is not well created, even the top statistical expert of the world cannot identify real patterns and trends

Gary Crawford session
Data Vizualisation - Make your reports useful to business - No more "Speed Dials"
Maybe some people didn’t saw anything new, but I loved this session. Gary gave some very good tips that must be taken when you create a report or dashboard. He started from default charts generated by excel wizard and gave some design tips to create more friendly and understandble charts for business reports

He also showed some gauges, thermometers and traffic lights usually used in some business reports. He explain some best pratiques that should be followed in order to avoid confused and unperceptable reports

And as he told… running a business is not driving a car. Cars are real time, need real time response. Business reports don’t move as you read them. He finished giving some tips for a good and more usefull report or dashboard

Andrew Sadler session
Microsoft's integrated end-to-end BI offering
I never heard about Andrew Sadler before, and was really a very good surprise for me. He was fast, precisely and efficiency, in the way he explained the integration that could be done with Sharepoint, Performance Point Server and ProClarity

In the demo prepared for the session, he used the Sharepoint portal as the main interface/front office and behind the scenes he created several different types of reports and charts in Performance Point Server (including proClarity) showed inside normal webparts of Sharepoint portal

Andrew also show some tips using MDX that could be applied on filtering the reports and charts created in the previous steps

Andrew Wiles session
Does your cube support your users reporting needs?
As Andrew Sadler, Andrew Wiles was also a very good surprise for me and for almost persons that was attending the session. He focused in user reporting needs as Gary in a previous session, not in design but in funcionalities… for example how a simple indicator YearToDate could be available to the business user? You will respond that I can create a calculated member or allow user to do that using the MDX functon YTD… but Andrew showed a new approach that is abstracting all this stuff using reporting dimensions… for budget reports I believe that could be helpfull… I’m still tring to understand all the the stuff and how could apply in the real world…. I’m ansious to see the material that Andrew promised to share with us…

This session was really the more original and harder! Check Alex post for further details

Colin Hardie session
Choices, Choices - Loading and Modelling SCD in SQL 2008 Suite
Colin Hardie work for the IMGroup (the main Microsoft partner) and showed the approach about Slowly Changing Dimensions (SCD) from Kimball and the capabilities of SCD transform of SQL Integration Services.

Nothing new, only the different alternatives to deal with Slowly Changing Dimensions, but Colin is very comunicative and also fast and precisely!

In the final, Simon Sabin, invited the attendences to eat some pizza, drink some beers and singing a song in auditorium!

Thanks to the organanizers, that although some little disappointing points, I'm sure that they did everything they could to do a fantastic event as it was in SQLBits III. Thanks to Simon, Chris Webb, Allan Mitchell, Tony, Darren Green and Jamie.
See you guys in next SQLBits!


Amin said...

Hi Pedro,

The University landscape seems fantastic, but as you said it would be boring if you were alone ;)

I am very eager to read more about data mining session in your blog

Many thanks for sharing your experiences with us


Ella Maschiach said...

Hi Pedro,

How are you?
Thank you for a truly great post! The writing and the photos really make me feel like I was there. It all sounds very interesting and I regret not being able to go. By the way – didn't you go to the session Chris Webb did?

Thank you for keeping us updated,

Pedro said...

Thanks you for your visit and comments!! I hope to see you both in the next SQLBits! :-)

Tomislav said...

Hi Pedro,

It was nice meeting you at SQLbits.


Tomislav Piasevoli

Darren Gosbell said...

Hi Pedro,

Great review of the SQL Bits conference, but you got one of the names wrong at the end. I think you probably meant to thank Darren Green, not me. I was not part of SQL Bits (I'm based in Australia, not the UK)

Darren Gosbell

Pedro said...

Hi Darren,
I also know you from Forums Microsoft. Sorry for the mistake! :-)
My nick in MSDN Forums is PedroCGD!
Thanks for your visit and comment!!! It's a honour!

srinu said...

Hi Pedro,

I am looking for Microsoft BI Certification in SSRS,SSIS & SSAS. Is there one exam for all components (SSRS,SSIS & SSAS).
Can u share any material on this so that i can start reading and appear for exam because i want to part of this BI group.


Pedro said...

Thanks for your visit!
The Training Kit book is the best material you need for the exam!
I hope to see your more often!


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