It literally has been an “eventful” month or two – pun intended! After being on the road for multiple Microsoft product launches, SQL Saturday and attending SAP TechEd, I am ready to get back to the BI blog. I also made a deal to get some extra BI coverage at events by stepping back and letting in-memory database get all the spotlight coverage for a few weeks. My beloved BI seems to always be asked to step aside… that is until the new PASS Microsoft Business Analytics Conference, April 10-12, 2013, where Microsoft BI can finally be front and center stage with an Excel audience. Note that although there will be some BI professional topics at this new conference, it will not be structured like the former Microsoft BI Summit. The new Microsoft Business Analytics Conference is heavily targeting Excel user audiences and Excel topics versus SQL Server BI professionals and SQL Server BI related topics – be sure to check out the event web site to fully understand what will be covered in various tracks.

For those of you that just want a quick summary and some visuals of everything new across all recent BI events/highlights, check out my latest What is New for BI SQL Saturday deck, For further commentary, please read on.

For BI professionals there were some BI highlights at PASS Summit 2012. Most of the big news this year was around SQL Server relational in-memory database advancements. Teo Lachev has a good overview. Unlike Teo that thought SQL Server 2012 SP1 availability was his top BI announcement, my favorite BI announcements were 1) DAXMD preview will be coming soon that allows Power View to be used with SSAS multidimensional data sources 2) Update-capable Columnstore Indexes (xVelocity in-memory) that will be helpful for real-time reporting solutions 3) Polybase enables distributed SQL queries between unstructured Hadoop and structured PDW data warehouse without moving the unstructured data. Last year the ease of using the Excel Hive ODBC connector was shown and this year the future of combined unstructured with structured data solutions DeWitt described is really starting to take shape. 4) BI Power Hour was over the top as usual and the mobile BI Azure app by Patrick LeBlanc – that I won’t dare describe here – stole the show! I am still laughing about that one weeks later.

Then on to SharePoint Conference (SPC) 2012. I loved SPC 2012 – there was a lot of positive energy at this event and a lot more BI people than I expected. At SPC, SharePoint 2013, Office 2013 and Office365 launched. In the Business Intelligence track opening session, Microsoft native mobile business intelligence applications for Excel and Power View were demonstrated for iOS iPad and Windows 8 devices. There was a lot of good crowd buzz around the “sneak peek” native app demos. More information on those will be made in H1 CY2013. Another very cool BI project shown at SPC is GeoFlow. GeoFlow looks a little bit like Power View but it is an add-in to Excel for 3D geospatial data overlay visualizations. GeoFlow allows visual data exploration of geospatial data and records the steps for optional video replays. The heat mapping feature was fantastic. Note GeoFlow should be available for public preview soon. ExcelMashUp.com was showcased in BI booth demos, along with Excel Inquire, Excel Power View, Excel Flash Fill, Excel Quick Analysis, and many other Excel 2013 enhancements. Clearly Excel is getting all the BI love these days. Other great BI track sessions included Kay Unkroth’s Self-Service BI Governance, Kevin Donovan’s PerformancePoint deep dive and Excel session and all of Diego Oppenheimer’s Excel sessions.