Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thoughts On The 2014 PASS Summit Selections

The session lineup for the 2014 PASS Summit was announced today and I'm honored to be selected as a presenter. This will be my 6th year at the Summit and 5th as a presenter, and every year it's tougher to be picked as the PASS community - and the number of sessions submitted (over 900 this year!) - grows.

The increase in submissions year over year also makes it tougher on the program committee to review, select, and schedule the lineup. The committee is made entirely of volunteers who put a ton of hours into the selections - often a thankless task done behind the scenes - so I want to make sure the acknowledge their efforts. Every year there are people not happy about how the selection process works, that they didn't get selected, etc...and while there are things that can be improved on I don't fault any individual on the committee for having put the time and effort into trying to put together the best lineup of sessions possible.

As I look over the selections there are a few things that stand out worth mentioning. But first, a eye-candy filled analysis of the numbers for this year:

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What do I take away from looking at the numbers and the list of accepted sessions?

  • Most speakers are scheduled for 1 session. The majority of speakers with 2 (or more) are because they're delivering a full day precon in addition to a regular session.
  • There are some notable names missing from the list of Summit regulars who submitted but were not selected. I'll avoid naming names so I don't play favorites, but I think it shows that you don't get a session just because you're well known in the community. I do hope people who weren't selected are able to find other ways to attend.
  • No 90 minute spotlight presentations this year. First year that's happened?
  • No 500 level precons - maybe in part due to lack of submissions, maybe the ones that were submitted weren't the right fit...still, I'd easily pay for a 500 level DBA precon. Maybe next year?
  • Comparing the list of accepted speakers against the current PASS Board Members shows two sessions accepted, one by Jen Stirrup (a half day session) and one by Adam Jorgensen (a precon with John Welch and Buck Woody). I wish it were none - the Board has plenty to do that week on behalf of PASS without having to worry about delivering a session on top of it. I can understand why Jen wants to make the trip worthwhile since she's travelling to the US from Europe, but the other...
  • 3 Preconference sessions by Pragmatic Works employees are on the list, including one delivered by PASS Executive Vice President, Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen who is also President and Managing Partner of Pragmatic Works. I know a lot of folks that work at Pragmatic and they're good at what they do, but having 3 precon sessions (where presenters usually make good money from the sales) selected for the same company as one of PASS's execs...smells. I'd like to give PASS the benefit of doubt on this one, but I'll it's very hard to ignore, even if Adam wasn't one of the presenters.
  • The last chart highlights that 39% of the General sessions are BI focused. If the Summit were the only paid conference organized by PASS I'd be OK with that number, but now that we've got the Business Analytics conference I'm wondering if that percentage should be lower. I'd also be curious how many BA conference sessions are repeats at the Summit, though I realize that most of the people who attend Summit probably do not attend the BA conference.

All in all it looks like a good lineup - one that I'm happy to be a part of. I'm looking forward to this year's Summit and I hope that you are, too!

EDIT: Buck Woody is not one of the speakers for Adam's precon as I had initially written.

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