Thanks for Attending PASS Business Analytics Day–Chicago

A big THANK YOU for all those who attended the Business Analytics Day in Chicago this week.  It was a very successful and well-attended event.  Thank you to Angie Horel, Jessica Minnie, Wendy Pastrick and Dan English for heading-up a terrific event.  We had a packed house for the Mastering Power BI session and a diverse audience across roles and experiences with the tools.  I’ve presented several Power BI sessions over the past two years or so and this one has prompted me to share a few thoughts.

I think we’ve arrived at a point where these tools (Power BI Desktop, Power Query, Power Pivot nd SSAS Tabular) are already familiar to most people attending sessions.  This marks a significant point in the on-going evolution of the Power BI tool set where people are taking it very seriously and the industry has accepted it as a serious solution platform.

My approach up to this point has been to deliver one session to students and attendees with various levels of skills and experience, advising them to set their expectations accordingly.  With the median skill level on the rise, it is time to start offering classes and sessions at different levels for beginners and more advanced audiences.  Power BI already appeals to users across the spectrum of business-centric and IT-centric disciplines.  As a platform with features for novice desktop users and advanced solution integrators, Power BI now spans more depth and breadth than any other Microsoft product in my experience.  With this realization, I’m expanding my approach for teaching and mentoring by developing training material for different levels and audiences.  I’m in the process of developing a three-day Power BI course with beginner and advanced-level options along with some help from other Power BI technology experts.

Podcast, SSRS Book and PASS Business Analytics Day

This past week, I had the honor of being interviewed by Carlos Chacon and Steve Stedman from the SQL Data Partners Podcast


It was quite an honor to talk about new features of SSRS in SQL Server 2016, my new Wrox Press SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services book and the PASS Business Analytics Day.  A big thanks to Carlos and Steve for welcoming me to their podcast show.  I’m quite impressed with the quality and professionalism of this production.  You guys do a great job.  Look for Episode #77 – New Reporting Options in SQL Server 2016.  After well over a year of hard work, the book has gone to press.  Amazon shows that they will be shipping copies by February 6th.

I’m working on a series of blog post excerpts from each major topic in the book.  These posts will include abridged chapter summaries, complete with walk-through demonstrations and samples.  Subscribe to future post notifications to get the entire series.

PASS Business Analytics Day in Chicago


January 11 is the big day for the Power BI workshop, part of the PASS Business Analytics Day in Chicago.  The workshop covers Power BI from the ground-up for business analysts and IT pros.  You’ll learn basic data importing from files and databases, transformations, modeling and reporting.  Then, we will cover many advanced-level topics like working with on-prem, enterprise-scale data, complex transformations and modeling, DAX essentials, dashboard and report best practices.  We’ll also take a peek at using R visualizations.  No matter what your role is, you are bound to learn some useful skills and techniques.  The flexibility of the Power BI platform is pretty amazing.  If you are new to Power BI, we will teach the basics and you’ll see how it can be used in a variety of settings.  If you are an experienced data analyst or IT data professional, you will learn to use Power BI to create scalable, professional solutions.

Since the event has exceeded attendance registration expectations, they are moving our session into a larger room.  I’ve been putting the final touches on the new session content demos and lab exercises.  I’ll be covering more than ever before in a full-day Power BI workshop.

If you are attending, make sure you have the latest version of Power BI Desktop installed.  We’ll be handing out all the exercise data and samples on USB drives at the beginning of the event.  Plan to have at least 2 GB of free storage space for these files.

Reporting Services 2016 Training: online, free

I’m pleased to present a four-week, on-line SSRS 2016 course on behalf of Microsoft; hosted on the edX platform developed by  Harvard, MIT and other major universities.  The first session began this week but there is still time to get started.  Additional sessions will also be offered in the future.

This is not a promotional free trial or some kind of limited offer to get you to sign-up for a more expensive training class.  It is high-quality, in-depth training sponsored and produced by Microsoft for free, and led by yours truly – and co-presented by Chris Randall; Senior Content Developer for Microsoft Learning Experiences.  The course, with all the materials are free.  If you would like an official verification certificate, it’s optional and a mere $49 extra.  This course provides general knowledge, helps students develop basic, foundational skills and then focuses specifically on data visualization using existing and newer SSRS features.

Analyzing and Visualizing Data with SQL Server Reporting Services

Learn to create mobile reports, paginated reports, and KPIs using business data with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

Microsoft Logo

In this computer science course, you will learn to build reports with SQL Server Reporting Services, which includes new visualization features and mobile capabilities. You will learn to create reporting solutions, mobile reports and dashboards.

Whether you’re new to reporting services, or experienced with earlier versions, we’ll show you how to build tables, matrices, advanced visualizations, and dashboards with key performance indicators. You’ll design and deploy compelling, interactive reports for smartphones, tablets, and browsers.

By the end of the course, you’ll have developed a complete reporting solution and be ready to analyze and visualize your own business data with SQL Server Reporting Services.

Note: To complete the hands-on elements in this course, you will require an Azure subscription. You can sign up for a free Azure trial subscription (a valid credit card is required for verification, but you will not be charged for Azure services). Note that the free trial is not available in all regions. It is possible to complete the course and earn a certificate without completing the hands-on practices.

Course Syllabus

Skip Syllabus Description Module 1: Report and Dashboard Solutions
This module introduces report concepts, authoring roles, and tools available to create reports and dashboards.
Module 2: Basic Report Design
This module presents the reporting design and deployment ecosystem and lifecycle, report design techniques, and the expressions language of SQL Server Reporting Services.
Module 3: Visual and Interactive Reporting
This module introduces charts, scorecards and dashboards, and how to author analytic reports using data stored in multidimensional cubes and in-memory tabular models.
Module 4: Mobile Report Solutions
This module introduces mobile reports, including layouts and deployment, and how to add key performance indicators (KPIs) to your report environment.
Final Exam
The final exam accounts for 40% of your grade and will be combined with the weekly quizzes to determine your overall score. You must achieve an overall score of 70% or higher to pass this course and earn a certificate.

Meet the instructors

bio for Paul Turley

bio for Chris Randall
Paul Turley
Intelligent Business LLC
Chris Randall
Senior Content Developer, Microsoft Learning Experiences

Learn more and enroll

A companion to the course, my new Professional SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services book from Wrox Press, is in final production and should be available any day now…