I’m attending and presenting at… ALL THE EVENTS!

This year I’ve already presented at more events than I dreamt off at the start of the year (5).
And the invites keep coming in! (5 more!)
This is going to be a long read, a punishment from me to me because I slacked off in blogging in the past months.

So apart from being bored, there’s 2 reasons why you would want to read this post.
1) Interest in, but some fear of, attending and presenting at conferences, user group and community events in general.
2) You’re me from the future and you’re wondering about that amazement and the exciting feeling the young Jan had about these first events. You’re wondering about what fears you overcame and you want to look back at how it all started.

Expect to find the following:

  • UK Power BI Summit (2017/02/17)
  • Denver SQL Server User Group (2017/03/17)
  • Battle of the Beards (2017/03/29)
  • SQL Saturday Israel (2017/04/26)
  • Belgian Information Worked User Group (2017/05/09)
  • in short: 5 more events to find me at before the end of june!

So whichever reason you have, come on in and start reading!

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Presenting a webinar, not the same as a conference

Last saturday Back in January, I presented my first webinar for the Global Power BI usergroup.
It was a redelivery of the Personal BI to Personal Data Science session I’ve already given twice together with my colleague Kimberly Hermans (twitter).
Although there was no real negative feedback and even some positive feedback in private, I don’t think I did great.

I approached the webinar the same way as I do a regular presentation.
And boy oh boy, was I wrong to do it this way…

There’s all kinds of different and extra things to take into account compared to an in-person conference or usergroup presentation.

  • The software you’re using
    We used Google+ Hangouts and while I tried it out before the webinar, I didn’t prepare how I would be taking questions. That could’ve gone a lot better.
  • The microphone you use
    The microphone I used was the one that came with my phone. The quality wasn’t the best, especially combined with the room I was in.
  • The room you’re in
    Using a cheap microphone tends to be OK. But in the wrong room you’ll get a lot of echo or environment noise.
  • No or very limited interaction with your audience
    This one struck me the worst. I couldn’t interact with or read the audience which made me unusually nervous.

On top of that, because of conflicting schedules I had to present alone this time.
I thought I would be OK as I knew most of the data science stuff on a basic level.
But it also means that all the interaction and the dynamic that previously existed in the presentation was gone. No jokes, no natural tempo changes, no interaction between presenters.
In my opinion this was the main killer of the webinar.

What’s next?

UserGroup

The Virtual Global Power BI User Group is still organising monthly webinars. You can join or present yourself as well.
Or just participate in the usergroup via different channels like TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn and our YouTube channel.

Personal

I’m embarking on a new webinar journey as well.
More news will follow soon.

 

Power BI and R – Part 3 (Getting started)

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Power BI and R

In this post we’ll look at some simple examples of how to use R in Power BI.
While going through these examples, we’ll have a look at what is already possible in this preview version and what is not possible.
We’ll do this by slowly examples from scratch so you can follow or rebuild the examples yourself.
I’ll keep the technical explanations to a minimum as there are already a ton of books and courses filled with that.

So if you’re seeking deep knowledge of the inner workings of R, this post is going to disappoint you.
However, if you’re looking to keep it simple and just get started building cool or useful visualizations in R to explore your data, just keep reading!

In case you missed the previous posts:

In part 1 of this series, I gave you a couple of reasons to start using R for visualizations in Power BI.
In part 2 of this series, I gave you remarks on the R integration. You might’ve caugtht a glimpse of what is possible if you stepped outside of the lines that Microsoft drew. And I showed you an ugly error you can receive because of  decimal symbol setting in your OS.

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Power BI and R – Part 2 (Remarks and errors)

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Power BI and R

In part 1 of this series, I gave you a couple of reasons to start using R for visualizations in Power BI.

In this part I’ll tell you about the things I discovered and the problems that I ran into in this preview version.

Please note that the remarks below count for the december 2015 version of Power BI Desktop.
R script visuals is still a preview, things might change in later versions.

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Power BI and R – Part 1 (Intro)

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Power BI and R

First we got Get Data through R Script in beta.
Not much later, we got Custom Visuals through R Script as well.

Everyone was happy…
Twitter went crazy with happiness…
No blogs followed…

“On the fields of Trenzalore, at the integration of R in Power BI, when no living creature can speak ill of R, a Question of how to use it will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered.”

SilenceWillFall

Read on to learn why R is included in Power BI and if it is something you should even care about. (hint: of course! 😉 )

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Data science with Microsoft – Personal BI to Personal Data Science

How do you go from Personal BI to Personal Data Science?
Isn’t Data Science only for those rare unicorns that are smarter than most of us combined?
Can we even democratize Data Science within the enterprise?Personal BI & Data Science

Kimberly Hermans (twitter) and I presented on this topic last week, the 27th of November, at the Microsoft UK office. Jen Stirrup (blog | twitter) had organized a great event for the community there: “Data Culture Day London – Power BI Edition“.

This is a write-up of the presentation “Personal BI to Personal Data Science”, hopefully it will make you want to attend the presentation.
Currently you can still attend it at the next SQL Server Usergroup event in Belgium on the 8th of December.
After that date, take a look at my calendar to see if I’m delivering this session somewhere else.

Read on!

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Data science with Microsoft – Training materials

Today I’ll be guiding you through the, sometimes very busy, world of Microsoft training material.
We’ll put the focus on the training material for data science.

Expect everything you need to become fluent with Microsoft’s Data science solutions.

  • Free training courses with certificates
  • Free webinars & recordings of live sessions
  • Free (e-)books
  • Documentation & Learning Paths
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy

Read on for the good stuff!

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Data science with Microsoft – An introduction

Let’s be honest, Microsoft isn’t a name that would traditionally be associated with data science.
But just as we’ve witnessed in other areas, they have quickly caught up!

in the last year we’ve seen the following appear on the Microsoft Data Science radar:

  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Power BI
  • Cortana Analytics Suite
  • Acquisition of Datazen & Revolution Analytics
  • Integration of R in SQL Server

Looking at it like this, it’s just a list like any other. Not even a big list.
The magic happens when we look at what this means for the developers, consultants and ultimately the business.


Azure Machine Learning

We now have the ability to create AND deploy predictive models in minutes using Azure Machine Learning.

AzureMachineLearning2 AzureMachineLearning

This opens up interesting possibilities where we can send data from SQL Server, a SQL Azure Database or just live from a mobile application or excel to gain insights


Power BI

If you still need an introduction to Power BI then you’re doing something wrong.
Contact me on twitter, LinkedIn or via the comments.
I’ll gladly talk you through Power BI and why you should be using it for almost everything you do with data in your company.
I mean that, get in touch with me. Now! 🙂

But on a more serious note, I’m going to be crude to Microsoft here.
A long time ago, Power BI started as an over-hyped and underwhelming experience. Everyone saw the potential this Excel stuff had but I’m guessing the experience most people had was similar to mine. That is, Power BI back then was a disappointment because of what we were expecting.
The one good thing it did have at one point was PowerPivot.

Skip forward to august 2015.
The Power BI dream had suddenly come true!
Most of the things we were expecting in the past suddenly were there, in a web service AND a desktop application.
AMAZING!

Skip forward 3 more months and Power BI has exceeded our wildest dreams.
I could literally fill books with all the great stuff the Power BI team has done and enabled for the community.
The Power BI API, a plugin for PowerPoint, custom visualizations, support on all devices, enterprise ready and a lot more all combined with a CRAZY pace of new releases!

If you haven’t used Power BI yet, skip all the praise and commercial talk, go download the desktop application and start working with it. Soon you’ll be an Power BI evangelist as well 😉

custom-visualizations-same-page-100622406-primary.idge[1]


Cortana Analytics Suite

If I had to summarize Cortana Analytics for anyone, I’d say it is basically Azure Machine Learning for predictive analytics combined with Power BI for a beautiful presentation of your data. And sprinkled on top are some of the most incredible and integrated services you can dream of.

Cortana Analytics is not really a product, it’s more a combination of several services that work really great together and form a solution to your questions.
It enables different scenario’s for any case you can think of.

Whether you have a scenario with real-time data analytics, (real-time) predictive analytics or you’re just in need of a data lake to fill with your data for analysis, Cortana Analytics is where you need to be.

This picture from Microsoft summarizes the Cortana Analytics Suite the best.
It shows you how different tools fit different purposes in the chain from data to insight to action.

Cortana-Analytics-Suite[1]


Acquisition of Datazen & Revolutions Analytics

Not much to say except: WOW!
I bet I’m not the only one who did not see both of these coming.

Datazen was already known for it’s mobile dashboarding solutions. It’s acquisition could only mean something big was coming for on-premises BI.
And it did, Microsoft announced at PASS Summit 2015 that Datazen would basically be integrated with SSRS to provide an outstanding mobile BI solution for those who must stay on-premises.

Revolution Analytics was widely known in the world of the R programming language.
Where R standard is limited to a single machine and the memory that machine has, Revolution Analytics provided a scalable solution.
How cool is that? So cool that Microsoft wanted it integrated in SQL Server 2016!
I’m sure that the R services in SQL Server 2016 are just a starting point. But imagine the possibilities from a data science perspective when you combine this with the columnstore and in-memory technologies.

splash[1] architecture[1]

Integration of R in SQL Server

This isn’t just R in SQL Server, it’s an implementation of Revolution R Enterprise in SQL Server!

No longer do you have to pull data to your developer machine, data can just stay in the database where it should be.
Combine this with columnstore indexes and the in-memory technology and you know that the data scientists are now drooling.
2015-05-14_22-39-58


Summary

Microsoft has improved so much in the last year, it’s as if it’s a whole new company.
Data professionals are getting a lot of shiny new toys and can expect a lot more solutions to be build end to end on a Microsoft platform.
Whether that platform is on-premises or in the cloud is up to the business to decide.

Data science is no longer unknown territory for people who work with SQL Server, it’s already on our doorstep.
On top of that, Microsoft’s Cortana Analytics solution offers incredible value and an ease of use I’ve never seen before with something like this.
It took me only an hour to set up a solution that parsed real-time sensor data, combined it with reference data in a database and then show it on a Power BI dashboard.

One thing is sure, you can expect some interesting blog posts in the feature.
Not only from myself but the entire SQL Server community!

When you’re ready, move on to this list of training materials I compiled for you. Let’s get started!

Microsoft Foundation Sessions at PASS Summit 2015

This years PASS Summit has seen some of the biggest announcements in SQL Server and Microsoft Business Intelligence history.

  • We’ve finally gotten a clear vision where Microsoft is heading.
    And it even makes sense!
  • Microsoft already was the leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems
    But SQL Server 2016 will bring even more improvements.
  • In the past year, Power BI has gone from “OK” to “Nice” to “Wooooooooow“.
    With all the new announcements, it seems like Microsoft is not even taking it’s foot of the throttle.
  • Cortana Analytics Suite is Microsoft’s way to help you get insight and take action on your data.
    It’s basically everything you need for your Data Science scenario’s.

Below are some Microsoft Foundation sessions from the PASS Summit that talk about these products and what you can expect from them, now and in the future.

If you’re interested in just a list of features, check out Chris Webb’s blog post about the announcements.


Business Intelligence


Advanced Analytics


Big Data and Data Warehousing


Developing Modern Applications on Azure

 


Video’s via http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2015/PASStv/Microsoft.aspx

Power BI news: Starting now, play with 44+ new features

Wow, have I got something for you. Some real insider information that I got after talking with a Microsoft employee. Now it’s my duty to share this rumor with all of you!
Here it goes: According to a secret Microsoft source, the Power BI team gets paid in food per feature  😉
pastedImage

This also seems to be the only plausible explanation for the incredibly HUGE release they had this month. Which and how many features? Read on!

goku-9000[1]

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