Presentations

I greatly enjoy doing presentations on a variety of topics, such as Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and personal development.  If you would like me to do a presentation, just ask!  Below are descriptions of presentations I have done before, along with other possible topics:

Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture

You’re a DBA, and your boss asks you to determine if a data warehouse would help the company. So many questions pop into your head: Why use a data warehouse? What’s the best methodology to use when creating a data warehouse? Should I use a normalized or dimensional approach? What’s the difference between the Kimball and Inmon methodologies? Does the new Tabular Model in SQL Server 2012 change things? What’s the difference between a data warehouse and a data mart? Is there any hardware I can purchase that is optimized for a data warehouse? What if I have a ton of data? Join this session for the answers to all these questions. You’ll leave with information that will amaze your boss and lead to a big raise… – or at least lead you down the correct path to adding business value to your organization!

11/14/2012, South Florida PASS
2/27/2013, PASS DBA Virtual Chapter (recording)
4/12/2013, PASS Business Analytics Conference (slides)
4/13/2013, PASS SQL Saturday Chicago (slides)
6/13/2013, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
7/31/2013, 24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview (slides) (recording)
9/3/2013, PASS DBA Fundamentals VC (slides) (recording)
9/10/2013, Houston PASS (slides)
10/17/2013, PASS Summit 2013 (slides)
5/8/2014, PASS Business Analytics Conference (slides)
9/27/14, SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (slides)

Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture with the cloud and MPP

As a follow-on to the presentation “Building an Effective Data Warehouse Architecture”, this presentation will discuss how the cloud and massively parallel processing (MPP) is changing the way data warehouses are being built.  We will talk about the many hybrid architectures that combine on-premise data with data in the cloud as well as relational data and non-relational (unstructured) data.  This is possible via technologies such as PolyBase, HDInsights (on-prem or in Azure), and Hadoop clusters.  Also, “big data”, such as twitter data run through social sediment analysis or simply many TB’s of data, are stressing SMP data warehouses causing companies to look to MPP solutions.  We will look at the benefits of MPP over SMP and how it allows easier integration of real-time data.  Many hybrid scenarios will be presented along with the pros and cons of each to help you determine the best solution for your data warehouse now and for the future.

Modern Data Warehousing

The traditional data warehouse has served us well for many years, but new trends are causing it to break in four different ways: data growth, fast query expectations from users, non-relational/unstructured data, and cloud-born data.  How can you prevent this from happening?  Enter the modern data warehouse, which is able to handle and excel with these new trends.  It handles all types of data (Hadoop), provides a way to easily interface with all these types of data (PolyBase), and can handle “big data” and provide fast queries.  Is there one appliance that can support this modern data warehouse?  Yes!  It is the Analytics Platform System (APS) from Microsoft (formally called the Parallel Data Warehouse or PDW), which is a Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) appliance that has been recently updated (v2 AU1).  In this session I will dig into the details of the modern data warehouse and APS.  I will give an overview of the APS hardware and software architecture, identify what makes APS different, and demonstrate the increased performance.  In addition I will discuss how Hadoop, HDInsight, and PolyBase fit into this new modern data warehouse.

5/3/14, PASS SQL Saturday Dallas (slides)
5/22/14, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
8/12/14, Central New Jersey SQL User Group (slides)
9/30/14, Beyond Tech-Ed, Rochester, NY (slides)
10/7/14, Beyond Tech-Ed, Hartford, CT (slides)
10/9/14, Beyond Tech-Ed, Cambridge, MA (slides)
Presented to dozens of Fortune 500 companies over the last year

What exactly is Business Intelligence?

BI is the “Gathering of data from multiple sources to present it in a way that allows executives to make better business decisions”. I will describe in more detail exactly what BI is, what encompasses the Microsoft BI stack, why it is so popular, and why a BI career pays so much. I will review specific examples from previous projects of mine that show the benefits of BI and its huge return-on-investment. I’ll go into detail on the components of a BI solution, and I will discuss key concepts for successfully implementing BI in your organization.

4/13/2013, PASS SQL Saturday Chicago (slides)

Best Practices to Deliver BI Solutions

If your company is planning to build a data warehouse or BI solution, you need to be aware that BI projects have high failure rates. Gartner says between 70% to 80% of corporate business intelligence projects fail. And with “big data” adding more complexity you can expect even more failures. However, the major causes of these failures are well known and can be avoided by implementing a set of best practices.

I have worked on dozens of end-to-end BI projects and have seen my share of successes and failures. I will talk about the reasons BI projects fail and share best practices and lessons learned so your BI project will fall into the “successful” category.

8/6/2013, Pragmatic Works (slides) (recording)
5/10/14, PASS SQL Saturday Houston (slides)
9/27/14, SQL Saturday Boston BI Edition (slides)
10/4/14, SQL Saturday Charlotte BI Edition (slides)

Why a Company Should Consider DW/BI

What is a data warehouse and why should a company use one? What is business intelligence and why should a company use it? I’ll answer those questions, as well as discuss BI concepts, the types of BI solutions and the BI lifecycle. And end with a discussion about the Microsoft BI stack.

Client presentation (slides)

Power BI for Office 365

A demonstration-heavy presentation of Power BI for Office 365, showing you how all the various tools and technologies work together: Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View, Power Map, Power BI sites, Data Management, Power BI Admin center, Power BI for mobile, and Power BI Q&A.

With so many tools it can be hard to understand not only the purpose of each tool, but how you can develop a solution that uses the features of each tool.  This presentation will help to make this more clear and also show you the “power” in Power BI.  It really is a game changer.

Client presentation (video)

How to Make a LOT More Money as a Consultant

James will show you the ropes on how to double your income by going from a salaried permanent employee to an independent consultant. James will discuss: Differences between perm, consulting, contracting; Understanding how placement/consulting companies work; Salary vs W2 vs 1099; Using social media (blogging, twitter, LinkedIn) and job boards; Certifications; Most in-demand skills; Developing the needed technical and communication skills; Interviewing and resume tips; How to negotiate; Networking yourself; and the additional risks and higher expectations that go with being a consultant.

1/10/2012, Houston PASS (slides)

Introduction to Microsoft’s Master Data Services (MDS)

Companies struggle with consolidating the same set of data from multiple systems to accurately report on critical business information.  For example, having customer lists in multiple systems that often have the same customer in more than one list, sometimes with a different spelling.  Master Data Services is bundled with SQL Server 2012 to help resolve many of the Master Data Management issues that companies are faced with when integrating data.  In this session, James will show an overview of Master Data Services 2012, including the out of the box Web UI, the highly developed Excel Add-in, and how to get started with loading MDS with your data.

12/20/2012, PASS Data Architecture Virtual Chapter (recording)
2/12/2013, Houston PASS (slides)

Overview of Microsoft Appliances

Learn how SQL Server can scale to HUNDREDS of terabytes for BI/DW solutions.  This session will focus on Fast Track Solutions and Appliances, Reference Architectures, and Parallel Data Warehousing (PDW).  Included will be performance numbers and lessons learned on the very first production PDW deployment in the world and how a successful BI solution was built on top of it using SSAS.

Learn about all the different appliances and how they can save you a tremendous amount of time and money instead of building on your own: HP Business Decision Appliance (BDA), HP Business Data Warehouse appliance (BDW), HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance (EDW), and HP Database Consolidation Appliance (DBC).

If you are involved in the decision-making in your company for purchasing one or more servers to be used for SQL Server, this session will make you aware there are options outside of the usual ordering a server and internally installing the hardware, OS, and SQL Server.

3/13/2012, Houston PASS
4/21/2012, Houston SQL Saturday
4/11/2013, PASS Business Analytics Conference (slides)

Top BI enhancements for SQL Server 2012

SQL Server 2012 has an abundance of new features and enhancements, with business intelligence (BI) being one area given a lot of attention. Microsoft understands the importance of BI and continues to make things easier and more powerful for BI developers and end users. In this session I will cover the most important of these new features, broken out into the logical areas seen in a full end-to-end development of a BI solution: data integration, data management & warehousing, and end-user reporting.

3/12/2013, Houston PASS (slides)

Become a BI Independent Consultant!

If you are bold enough, you can enter the world of independent consulting and watch your income soar! BI is hot and with a little effort you can step out of your “comfort zone” and enjoy the benefits of being your own boss. James will show you the ropes on how to double or even triple your income by going from a salaried permanent employee to an independent consultant. James will discuss: Differences between perm, consulting, contracting; Understanding how placement/consulting companies work; Salary vs W2 vs 1099; Using social media (blogging, twitter, LinkedIn) and job boards; Certifications; Most in-demand skills; Developing the needed technical and communication skills; Interviewing and resume tips; How to negotiate; Networking yourself; and the additional risks and higher expectations that go with being a consultant.

Transitioning to a BI role

Business Intelligence is an extremely hot career.  If you are a DBA or have another IT position, how can you transition to a BI role?  I will describe what exactly BI is, what encompasses the Microsoft BI stack, why it is so popular, and why a BI career pays so much. Then I will delve into the steps to take to become a BI expert and how I made the transition, going from a salaried DBA to a high-in-demand and high-income BI consultant.  If I can go from a complete unknown to building a personal brand that allowed me to present at the PASS Business Analytics conference in just two years, so can you!

2/13/2013, PASS Professional Development Chapter (recording) (slides)
10/19/2013, PASS SQL Saturday Charlotte (slides)

End-User Microsoft BI tools – Clearing up the confusion

Excel, SSRS, Report Builder, PowerPivot, PerformancePoint, Power View. Which one should I use? I will discuss the pros and cons of each and give demos of all the tools so you know the best tool for each situation.

Given two types of underlying data sources (a data warehouse and a OLAP cube built from the data warehouse) there are many different possible presentation layers (client tools) that serve different user communities with varying usage profiles. There is a lot of confusion on what is the best tool to use. This presentation will hopefully clear up the confusion and give you some guidance on the best tool for each situation.

Client presentation (slides)

Methods for Populating a Data Warehouse Each Day

Designing and creating the process to extract the data from the source system is usually the most time-consuming task in the ETL process if not the entire data warehousing process. Source systems are usually very complex, with tables and fields in the databases that are difficult to understand and poorly documented. This makes determining the data which needs to be extracted a challenge. And usually the data needs to be extracted on a daily basis to supply all changed data to the data warehouse in order to keep it up-to-date. Moreover, the source systems usually cannot be modified, or its performance or availability adjusted, to accommodate the needs of the data warehouse extraction process. The focus of this session will be the technical considerations of having different kinds of sources and extraction methods. We will discuss the most common techniques used for extracting data from source databases and the ways to determine the data that has changed since the last extraction.

Transitioning from self-service BI to corporate BI

Self-service BI is all the rage as many power users are using PowerPivot to build their own reports.  But what happens if those users want to make those reports available to everyone?  How do you make those reports available to the enterprise?

Self-service allows power users to build PowerPivot reports, proof-of-concept reports, and ad-hoc queries.  This session will discuss these benefits, then talk about how to take those reports to the next level, which is team/workgroup BI via PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint, and the next level after that: corporate/organizational BI via SSAS.

Master Data Management (MDM) Hub Architectures

There are three basic styles of architecture used for Master Data Management hubs: the registry, the repository, and the hybrid approach.  I will provide details of all three so you can make the most informed decision when creating your MDM hub.

The Master Data Management (MDM) hub is a database with the software to manage the master data that is stored in the database and keep it synchronized with the transactional systems that use the master data.  There are three basic styles of architecture used for Master Data Management hubs: the registry, the repository, and the hybrid approach.  There are also a few other popular variations.  I will provide details on all these styles as well as present real-world examples so when you come away from the session you have a solid understanding of all the styles and then have the confidence to determine the right architecture for your company.

Enhancing your career: Building your personal brand

In three years I went from a complete unknown to a popular blogger, speaker at PASS Summit, and a SQL Server MVP.  Along the way I saw my yearly income triple.  Is it because I know some secret?  Is it because I am a genius?  No!  It is just about laying out your career path, setting goals, and doing the work.  It’s about building your personal brand and stepping out of your comfort zone.  It’s about overcoming your fear of taking risks.  If you can do those things, you will be rewarded.  I will discuss how you too can go from unknown to well-known.  I will talk about building your community presence by blogging, presenting, writing articles and books, twitter, LinkedIn, certifications, interviewing, networking, and consulting and contracting.  Your first step to enhancing your career will be to attend this session!

5/10/14, PASS SQL Saturday Houston (slides)

What exactly is big data and why should I care?

You may understand what a data warehouse is, but what is big data?  And why should I care about it?  How will it help me?  I’ll talk about the things to look at to understand if you have big data, and cover those buzz words you may have heard but don’t know what they mean (data scientist, Hadoop, Internet of Things, data lake, modern data warehouse).  I’ll also give examples of how big data is making companies make better business decisions.

8/26/14, Tableau Users Group (slides)

Other topics:

Professional Development

  • How to use LinkedIn to enhance your career
  • How to nail that Interview: Tips and tricks, PLUS The art of negotiation: How to negotiate your salary/pay rate
  • How to find a contract/perm job: Networking yourself so the jobs find you by building up your personal brand
  • Blogging: All you need to know to start blogging and reap the benefits
  • Consulting vs contracting vs perm: Pros and cons of each
  • What is it like to work at Microsoft?
  • Step out of your comfort zone: keys to a high-paying career

Business Intelligence/Data Warehouse

  • SQL Server Analysis Service (SSAS): The perfect source for BI
  • SQL Server Analysis Service (SSAS): Comparing the new tabular model vs the Multidimensional model
  • What are the new BI-related features in Excel 2013?
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence: New certifications for SQL Server 2012
  • Fast track data warehouse reference configuration
  • Introduction to Data Quality Services 2012
  • The new BI enhancements in PerformancePoint and SharePoint 2013
  • The new enhancements in SSIS 2012
  • BI in the cloud – SQL Azure Reporting, SSRS, SSIS
  • Why You Need a Data Warehouse
  • Using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for your data warehouse
  • The future of BI

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