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SQLBI - Marco Russo

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Not selected as a speaker at PASS Summit 2013 #sqlpass #sqlfamily

I received the communication from the PASS Program Committee that none of my proposals have been accepted at PASS Summit 2013. Probably this year there was too many proposals and I made a mistake not using all the possible proposals available per speaker. In fact, I just proposed one pre-conference day and two regular sessions:

  • From 0 to DAX (preconference)
    DAX is the new language for creating Business Intelligence in the Microsoft stack. You can use it to query and program both Microsoft PowerPivot for Excel 2013 and the new SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular model. Learning the basics of DAX is very simple, but mastering it is a different story because it requires a mindset that involves some study, both for BI Professionals and Information Workers.
    During this one-day workshop, we will guide you in the process of learning the DAX language, through many examples and scenarios that help you understand what are the important concepts of DAX and how to leverage them in your everyday work.
    The seminar is useful to many profiles: BI developers who want to learn the DAX language and information workers interested in exploiting the many interesting features of PowerPivot for Excel 2013.
  • Optimizing Data Models in Tabular & PowerPivot (regular session)
    Is your new Tabular solution performing at its best? Are you using the best practices to reduce memory footprint, increase query speed and get the best out of the new engine? In this session, we will look at several techniques that can really make the difference in a Tabular solution. Distinct count reduction, join optimizations, condition consolidation, pros and cons of normalized data models, selection of the columns to store in the database are some of the topics covered in this session, which will highlight not only the best practices, but also practices that were best in Multidimensional and became worst in Tabular. As we are used to teach: if you known Multidimensional, you need to forget it in order to let the new concepts of Tabular shape your model.
  • Time Intelligence with DAX (regular session)
    Time Intelligence is probably the most used feature of any analytical solution. Computing Year To Date, Month To Date, Same Period Previous Year is quite easy in DAX. However, the DAX formulas start to be harder to write as soon as the requests for time intelligence involve working days evaluation, complex and custom calendar shapes, seasonal pattern recognition, ISO-based weeks handling, 445 fiscal calendar.
    In this session, we start showing how to compute the classical time intelligence by using the built-in DAX functions. Then, we will see some more complex time-intelligence formulas that require thinking out of the box, using advanced data modeling and querying techniques to produce interesting and useful formulas.

I have been informed that this year a new selection process has taken place. Abstracts reviews and speakers reviews have been made by two separate teams, and a final judgment has been made by combining the two ratings. In particular, abstracts team didn’t know the speaker’s name of each session. It seems a smart way to handle 850 submission in a transparent way. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of this new process.

In the last years, I and Alberto Ferrari had too many sessions selected, so the board decided to assign us only a few of them and the selected ones wasn’t always the best ones (because it wasn’t possible for us to establish an order of preference in case more submissions were selected). For this reason, this year we limited our submissions to the sessions that were more likely to be interesting, considering the current request on the market, the questions we received usually and the need to avoid presenting something already presented in the previous year. So we made a small selection of sessions avoiding to submit the maximum number of sessions per speaker. But this has been a wrong choice, because based on the new evaluation system, it would have been certainly better to propose more sessions and not only in the area in which we are most specialized.

I am not saying I have proposed sessions that was better than others selected. I have seen the proposals here and there are very interesting sessions (I still don’t know which ones have been selected at the moment of writing). I would have just proposed at least other 2 regular sessions more advanced and focused on specific use cases. Being part of a board selecting sessions in other conferences (like this) I know that every selection process has some drawbacks and the best thing you can do is to communicate very well how the selection process will work, so that everybody is able to help the board producing the best proposals. I thought that proposing a lower number of session would have been better, but I was wrong.

Well, I have been a speaker at PASS Summit in the last 4 years in a row (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), so it’s probably time to take some rest from speaking!  Smile

Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 4:05 PM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)



Vidas M said:


I honestly believe PASS committee made huge mistake by not selecting you as a speaker. Unfortunately this is big loss to PASS attendees. I have no idea how committee would not select one of the few top professionals in the world in BI area and consider that they did a decent job. I have been to many of your sessions in the past and consider them to be absolutely top level! I believe that sessions you choose were excellent, I would have love to see them!

What a bad bad decision by PASS committee...

May 22, 2013 10:10 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Vidas, I really appreciate your compliments. I think that nobody has a granted place anywhere, so it's ok that I stop this turn. My only regret is that I would have made more proposals if only I knew in advance the changes in selection process.

That's life!


May 22, 2013 10:26 AM

Andreas Wolter said:

Vidas M just made the Point. Can't say it any better.

This could happen to almost everyone not especially invited.

Hopefully you get a spot still..


May 22, 2013 11:13 AM

Ed Allison said:


I heard you, Alberto and Chris Webb speak at SQLBits in Nottingham this year.  Your sessions were excellent.  I must echo Vidas's view.  This is very much PASS's loss.

May 22, 2013 11:28 AM

Paul S. Waters said:

It will not be the same without you speaking.  You have presented every year that I have attended PASS and your talks are always one of the highlights of the summit for me.  Also, I need a refresher on your accent every year, so when I read your books and articles, I can make the voice in my head sound like you. :)

May 22, 2013 11:29 AM

Jason Thomas said:

As Paul said, your sessions have always been the highlight for me in the PASS Summit as well as SQLBits. It is going to be a loss for the attendees and I am still hoping that there is a process for getting people like you in!

May 22, 2013 1:16 PM

Julie Koesmarno said:

I agree with Jason. Marco, your sessions the past couple of years have taught me a lot about Analysis Services and PowerPivot. I am disappointed to hear that your sessions did not get selected. Hopefully there is a community voting process similar to SQL Rally last year where we can support you to present at the Summit.

May 22, 2013 2:45 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Andrea, Ed, Paul, Jason, Julie: thank you so much for your kindly words.

I looked at agenda now and I have to say that the number of sessions related to DAX and Tabular has been reduced very much, whereas PowerPivot has a small presence, that I consider a good one considering PASS is not a BI conference.

There are 7 sessions about SSAS. Only one about DAX, mixed to MDX (the excellent session from Christian Wade I've seen at SQLBits!) and much more Multidimensional than Tabular.

So in reality the board choices seems about the topics and not about the speakers. I'm curious to see whether Microsoft' sessions will fill the gap here or not.


May 22, 2013 3:34 PM

Greg Low said:

Wow - I find that so hard to understand. It's a big loss for the summit Marco. Don't feel bad about it.

May 22, 2013 10:01 PM

Anthony Sammartino said:

I am very surprised and disappointed that you will not be speaking this year. This is the first year I am attending and was very much looking forward to attending your sessions. I submitted a session on DAX for T-SQL folks and it was not accepted for the reason max allocations submitted for this track. I hope there are more sessions on DAX.

May 22, 2013 10:59 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

@Greg: I'm personally ok, as I said in my previous comment I'm wondering more about the balance between Tabular and Multidimensional this year. From a very reduced presence of Multidimensional, we now have a low number of Tabular sessions. Absence of DAX in particular seems strange to me, considering where Microsoft is investing now.

@Anthony: same as before - the choice seems no DAX this year. Which is strange, of course.

May 23, 2013 1:43 AM

Cosmin Ioan said:

Marco/Alberto/Chris.  I second Vidas' opinion.  This year, there has been a 50% turnover of speakers, meaning that out of approx 200 speakers from last year, approx 100 are not back.... and as far as I can tell, some of the brightest minds, in Analysis Services as well as SQL.  Too bad, for SQLPass.  This is the *first* year I am NOT attending, precisely for lack of top notch speakers such as yourselves.  SQLBits is once again, my go-to reference, for level 300-400 information!!    Keep up the great work, and maybe, see you on your side of the (big) pond :-)

September 20, 2013 8:08 AM
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About Marco Russo (SQLBI)

Marco Russo is a consultant, writer and trainer specialized in Business Intelligence with Microsoft technologies. He runs the SQLBI.COM website, which is dedicated to distribute resources useful for BI developers, like Integration Services components, Analysis Services models, tools, technical information and so on. Marco is certified as MCT, MCDBA, MCSD.NET, MCSA, MCSE+I.

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