Going through my notes, I thought I’d highlight some of the most fun or innovative local user group presentations I’ve been to so far this year.

Atlanta is fortunate to have many user groups, two specifically which I attend are the “Atlanta MDF” user group which usually meets the 2nd Monday of each month, and is typically focused more on the core SQL Server technologies and the “Atlanta BI” user group which usually meets the last Monday of each month and is focused on BI-specific topics.  There are a number of other user groups, such as .NET and Excel, but its hard to find time to visit them all on a regular basis.

It is common for each user group meeting to have a main event, which is usually a speaker speaking on a topic for 1 – 1.5 hours or so.  While it is great whenever anyone wants to volunteer their time to teach others, there have been a couple this year that really stood out to me, either for their creativity, content, or “fun” factor.

In March, a couple of the guys from Slalom, Dave Tangren and Nelson Davis, gave a talk on the benefits of Power BI vs. Tableau at the Atlanta BI meeting.  This is interesting in of itself since these two products are direct competitors which are in an active battle, but what made this presentation really fun was that they modeled it as a political debate, with each product being a candidate.  They had a moderator who would ask questions and then each candidate would give his answer.  A really creative way to present this information!

Dave Tangren and Nelson Davis presenting “Comparing Power BI to Tableau” at the Atlanta BI March Meeting.

In April, Mike Bruce and Alex Higgins from Acuity Brands presented “Using Power BI to Track Software Development Performance,” in which they talked about their experiences using Power BI to connect to Visual Studio Online’s TFS repository to track their Agile projects.  This was very interesting for a number of reasons — the integration between these sources of data, what they were trying to accomplish (and the road they’d traveled so far to get there) and their projects in general.  Completely unrelated to Power BI, the store of how Acuity had transitioned from a manufacturing company (manufacturing lighting) to a software company (developing highly intelligent lighting technology, including lights which interface with retail store apps to locate a person in a store) was very interesting.


In August,  Rob Collie presented “Ten Things Power BI Can Do For You” at the Atlanta MDF August Meeting.  In this talk, Rob gave a history of Power Pivot (Project Gemini) from his time at Microsoft as well as his experiences in transitioning to a consulting organization specializing in Power Pivot.  The entire presentation was non-technical and talked about the benefits of using Power Pivot (and DAX) with or without Power BI.  A very interesting topic and Rob was a very good speaker, not afraid to call things as they are.  I got a bit of an Office Space vibe from the style (in a good way!)  I highly recommend you check out one of Rob’s presentations if he ever presents again in the area!


Rob Collie presenting “Ten Things Power BI Can Do For You” at the Atlanta MDF August Meeting.


Those are a few of the presentations from local user groups which have  really stood out to me so far this year.  Here’s to hoping for many more excellent presentations to come!