PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 – Day 2

Good morning. So we here go with the second day of the PASS BA Conference. After a really good first day todays keynote started with a Lady I have never heard before. Her name is Mico Yuk, CEO of BI Brainz and she is a great lady. And although it was very hard to have a keynote after Day 1 keynote of Carlo Ratti, who showed us more the visionary future of Analytics, she really made it very well and grounded the people with the day to day challenges.


Keynote – Visual Storyboarding

Her talk was about Visual Storyboarding and there where plenty other talks about that subject today.  So let me try to get that story first for you. She started with the general disappointments companies have with Business Intelligence (BI) projects. We hear that a lot these days, normally addressed by some software vendors mostly out of the Hadoop world, but she made it very clear. Let’s start with 2 facts she presented:

  • $97 Billion annual BI spend by 2016
  • But the average Business Intelligence user adoption rate is only 21%


Lot’s of BI users still seem to use a lot of “export to Excel” functionality and do the Analytics work on their own. That must make us think. So why is the user adoption rate of BI and Data Warehouse projects so low? It reminds me of a quote of John Naisbitt:

“We are drowning in Information but starved for knowledge”.

But what are the reasons for? BI projects in general are still to technical driven by the IT and we still have lot’s of silos in organizations, like a BI Team, Analysts, Data Science Team, etc. But these teams have to work together, because a lot of Data Scientists spent a long time at school and are smart, but with not much experience in the field and not enough business understanding. That is a gap that business departments and analysts can fill. In the world of BI the main focus is about explaining the things that happened (the past). A lot of Data Scientists can ask question on things, nobody thought before and can give you insides in your data and your business people never noticed before. So again, these teams have to work together and we can’t give it just to the IT.

As Mico said a lot of BI projects stop on just presenting numbers, but as a decision maker your are more focused on actions. So the last step of creating the right actions out of my numbers & trends is often the missing part. But it is also not that easy to achieve, because in order to get it right, you first need the trust of the users and this has a lot to do with communication. So what has this to do with Visual Storyboarding?

Visual Storytelling is the common language that can break silos and bring people together to talk in the same language ( and focus on the important things. Mico presented some nice samples on slide 20 that you also find here:

Something that I also recognized in the keynote of day 1 was that a lot of great visualizations are still hand made by graphic designers and developers. So there is still a larger gap in the ease of use of tools and the quality of presenting data. This has also to do with a new kind of user experience that people also expect in business application that is more driven by consumer products and apps. 


For me it was great to had the chance to visit the PASS Business Analytics conference this year. California in general is a great place for that kind of conference. As already said it is a different kind of community. I learned a lot of new interesting thoughts on data analytics and get to know new interesting people. For me I take 3 main things away from this conference:

  • Data Analytics is still hard work. You have to leverage so many skills, also non-technical skills, to get it really right.
  • Visualization and Storytelling is something we will see more in the future and is for me definitely a way to go to close the last mile to the user.
  • I see many people catching up with R. R is more and more used in the community and also in business departments, so I think Microsoft made a big step in the right direction by acquiring Revolution Analytics.


June is my conference month

It was quite a busy time for me in the last month, with lot’s of very interesting project and exciting customers, especially in there area of Big Data and Data Analytics. That’s why it’s a little bit quite currently on my blog. Apologizes for this, but I will keep up writing. Additionally June seems to be my conference month for this year and I will be happy if I could see and talk to some of you. So here is my current schedule:

TDWI Conference 2014, 23. – 25.06.

I will have a session together with Ralph Kemperdick from Microsoft on “Analytical Platform System (former known as PDW) – Real World Experiences”


SQL Saturday 313, 28.6.

I’m very happy that I have again the chance to present on the SQL Saturday in Germany. Also this year the SQL Saturday will be at the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. And my Session will be about “Comparing SAP HANA, Power Pivot and SQL Server – In-Memory-Technologies”.


Datalympics 2014, 02.07.

This is a new conference to me, where I’m very excited about and happy to give a speech. My session will be on “Analytical Powerhouse − Data Analytics based on Microsoft”.


I think this will be a very exciting weeks and after my vacation I will follow up on my blogs.

2013 in review

At the beginning of a new year it’s a good time to have a short view on what has happened in the last one. WordPress prepared a 2013 annual report for my blog. I was a Little bit impressed and also proud of these numbers. So I think this is the right time to say thank you to all my readers and followers. It gives me the Feedback that the content I write about is interesting and relevant for people and that’s the most important feedback for me. I promise to continue, I also heard the Feedback on the SAP ERP Integration Story and I will deliver. 🙂 So stay tuned and have fun…

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 69,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Back to business

It was a little bit quite here in the last few weeks, which does not mean that there is nothing more to write about. I decided to take a little break during the summertime and get some fresh ideas. Before start talking about some new stuff, I first need to finish some open topics:

What’s next? I’m currently do some testing and investigation in new technology trends like Big Data and Windows Azurebigdata.

It think there is a lot of confusion around Big Data out there. This is now a hype topic like SOA has been. But my hope is, and I’m convinced, that it will have a happy end. If you tell people right now you are a Big Data architect they will probably say “Cool”. But don’t mention you are a SOA guy, I guess they will start laughing “poor boy”.

The point with Big Data is, that everybody talks about, but I don’t see any projects around Big Data technologies like Hadoop, Hive, Pig, etc. Currently Big Data is often used as synonym of handling large amount of data. But it’s much more then a data size topic. So I will take up this trend and give some insights how it could fit to classical data warehouse architectures. I think it’s time that these technologies get closer together.

Résumé after 1 month

Since I started this blog one month ago I have now around 60 regular readers, which tells me my WordPress Dashboard. Thanks to everyone listening. I think this is a good start and it shows me that there is quite some interest outside. I try my best to keep the content refresh rate high and the content interesting, hopefully. Smile

So I decide to go ahead, I have fun and I hope you too.

Start writing this blog…


I’m a Data Warehouse consultant based in Germany (Europe) with years of experience in building and designing Data Warehouse architecture based on the Microsoft platform. I’m part of an advisory team supporting the largest Data Warehouse installations on SQL Server in the German speaking area (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).
My focus is on the relational part of the Data Warehouse including Dimensional Modeling as well as Data Loading, Performance Tuning and defining the overall architecture (scale out, sizing, high availability). I’m a big fan of SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), but I don’t want to start a tool discussion here.
So why I did I start writing this blog? Well there are a lot of good blogs out there focusing on the pure technology like SQL Server, High Availability, SSIS, … But what I think is missing is a best practice and guidance oriented way on how to build data warehouses especially in the area of terabytes.
So I will focus on the relational modeling as well as the ETL part including performance tuning of the Data Warehouse and bring together best practices and guidlines we have seen on our largest projects which are probably also interesting for other consultants.

Have fun…