SQL Nexus 2017 – Conference Recap
Nearly 500 Microsoft data professionals attended SQL Nexus 2017 this week in Copenhagen, Denmark, with specialized tracks covering data platform, business intelligence, application and DB development, database administration, AI/data science, and IoT.
I was honored to attend this year for the second time as a speaker for two sessions and I am already looking forward to next year’s event. Here are a few fun facts from the conference, as well as some notes from my talks and interactions with so many others who are passionate about learning and sharing knowledge to help each other grow in our technical community.
Fun Facts from SQL Nexus 2017:
- 423 people from 20 different countries attended SQL Nexus 2017
- #sqlnexus became a top 5 trending Twitter hashtag in Denmark during the 3-day span of the conference
- The company with the highest number of attendees was Microsoft (21), followed by Alm Brand (9), Bizware AB (8), and ATP (6)
- There were as many attendees travelling from the Faroe Islands and Lithuania as there were from the US (3)
- 12 people named Lars attended the conference
- The most common job titles for attendees were DBA (29), Senior Consultant (16), and BI Consultant (13)
- The top tweeted hashtags from the conference were #sqlnexus (3040), #DataViz (320), #powerbi (241), and #SQLServer (191)
What a difference a year makes!
Last year was the first ever SQL Nexus conference and I was happy to be selected to present on one of my favorite topics of leveraging Power BI in an on-premises environment. As a newcomer to this group of conference presenters last year, I had a great time meeting other presenters, conference attendees, and fellow Microsoft employees who helped staff the Microsoft Clinic, where we answered a huge range of complicated and interesting questions.
Returning this year was a completely different (and incredible) experience. As I walked around through the conference, I encountered so many familiar faces. I also had the chance to meet in person other SQL Server / Power BI community stars who I follow and interact with online. This year definitely felt like a reunion of friends.
Presentation #1 – Analyzing Twitter data through Power BI
My first presentation was built around leveraging the Power BI Solution Templates to analyze Twitter data. I’ve given similar talks at SQL Saturdays and Power BI User Group meetings in Reykjavik, Cologne, and Munich, but there is something magical about being in an auditorium with an enormous screen behind you to bring out the butterflies before a presentation.
In the talk, I demoed Twitter analytics for the SQL Nexus conference including the @sqlnexus account and #sqlnexus hashtag to show volume increase as the conference dates grew closer, which topics were trending, the sentiment of the communication, etc. When I demoed the “outbound tweets” of the official @sqlnexus account, we discovered that they had not sent any recent outbound tweets. One of the event organizers was in the audience and asked if he was to send an outbound tweet during the talk if it would appear in the dashboard. In other words, is this a live demo? Of course it is!
As part of the presentation, I connect to Azure and walk through the underlying components that support this solution, including the logic app that defines the refresh rate for the solution. After Mark posted the above tweet, I updated and ran the logic app live in the demo, refreshed the Power BI report, and we saw the message in the report. Following in the BI mantra of “if you want to improve it, measure it”, the @sqlnexus team has now tweeted 61 outbound tweets in the past two days and I like to think that this little report helped encourage them. 😉
Presentation #2 – 12 Days of Dashboards – Power BI Blogging: What worked, what didn’t’ work, and will I do it again?
In December 2016, I authored a 13-part blog series over 13 days, where I built a Power BI dashboard each day highlighting a different way to use Power BI with sources such as LinkedIn, Goodreads, Amazon.com order history, SCCM, and more. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, so presenting my experience on this topic is always enjoyable. My talk was scheduled to begin at 5pm and in a classic “DEMO GONE WRONG!” story, my machine did not cooperate and showed the following error message at 4:59pm, one minute before I was set to begin.
Fortunately for me, my friend and colleague Aaron Bator came to my rescue by connecting his machine to the big screen, downloading my presentation from OneDrive, and handing me the new machine at 5:02pm. Ah, the joys of technical presentations. The presentation went well and wrapped up a big day.
Thank you to the organizers and sponsors of SQL Nexus that hosted such an incredible event. If you attended the conference, please share your experience in the comments below. Did you meet new people or attend a great presentation? Are you looking forward to coming back next year? I am!
Sam Lester (MSFT)