Join me in New York City May 5 and 6 for SQL Saturday NYC

May the fourth be with you, but May the fifth and sixth I hope you’ll be with me – in New York City!

Registration is now open for SQL Saturday NYC 2023, and it’s likely to fill up pretty quickly given the great schedule and exciting lineup of speakers. The event is hosted at Microsoft’s Times Square offices, and attendance is capped at 400 people.

If you’re interested in a free day of data-centric learning with some career-focused sessions[1], please register today and block your calendar. You can register here for the free SQL Saturday event:

If you’re interested in an extra learning day focused on organizational maturity and adoption of a data culture with Power BI, you should also consider joining me and Melissa Coates for our full day focused on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Adopting Power BI in Your Organization.” At the risk of hyperbole, this session presents the most important information that you need to succeed with Power BI, and to increase the return your organization gets on its investments in data, in business intelligence, and in you.

The most important information that you need to succeed with Power BI

The more I think about it, I honestly think the risk of hyperbole here is very low. The Power BI adoption roadmap is based on the experiences of hundreds of enterprise Power BI customer organizations. The agenda of this pre-conference session is what Melissa and Matthew believe is most important for most audiences based on our collective decades of working in this space. This is the best of the best, the most important parts of the most important subject[2].

Most sessions teach you how to drive, or teach you some interesting aspect of driving. This session gives you a map, teaches you how to read the map, teaches you how to find out where you are on the map, and then provides best practices for navigation. If you’re driving for the sheer fun of driving, maybe this session isn’t what you’re looking for. But if you actually need to get somewhere, this session is going to give you what the other sessions won’t, and it will make all of the driving sessions more valuable.

You can register for this full-day not-free pre-conference here:

I hope to see you in New York!

[1] Including one from me, as I reprise my “Unplanned Career” presentation for the first time in 2023!

[2] I wonder if it’s too late to increase the price. It probably is. (It is.)

Look for me on Mastodon

I’ve deleted my Twitter account.

I started using Twitter in 2011 as a work-adjacent social network, because that’s where the Microsoft data platform community hung out. When I left Facebook in July 2018 it became my primary social network. Back in November I created an account on Mastodon, and stopped using my Twitter account. Now that Twitter account is gone.

My reasons for leaving won’t be surprising to any long-time reader[1] but that isn’t why I’m writing this post. For anyone who wants to continue following my social media presence, you can find me at After a few months my experience on Mastodon is very similar to my experience on Twitter, just with fewer abusive trolls, more alt text for images, and missing a few familiar faces here and there.

If you’re interested in checking out a social media platform that feels more like Twitter used to feel before its recent decline, the best place to start is probably If you’re interested in telling me that I’m a “wokester” and am just “virtue signaling” the place to reach me is probably Twitter.

[1] This post from December should sum things up for you if you need a refresher.

The Power BI Scanner API keeps getting better

Power BI includes capabilities to enable users to understand the content they own, and how different items relate to each other. Sometimes you may need a custom “big picture” view that built-in features don’t deliver, and this is where the Scanner API comes in.

No, not this kind of scanner

The Power BI Scanner API is a subset of the broader Power BI Admin API. It’s designed to be a scalable, asynchronous tool for administrators to extract metadata for the contents of their Power BI tenant[1]. For an introduction to the Scanner API, check out this blog post from when it was introduced in December 2020.

The Power BI team has been updating the Scanner API since it was released. This week they announced some significant new capabilities added to the API, so administrators can get richer and more complete metadata, including:

  • Scheduled refresh settings for datasets, dataflows, and datamarts – this will make it easier for administrators to review their refresh schedules and identify problems and hotspots that may have undesired effects.
  • Additional RDL data source properties – this will make it easier for administrators to understand paginated reports and the data sources they use.
  • Additional “sub-artifact” metadata for datasets – this will make it easier for administrators to understand table- and query-level configuration including row-level security and parameters.

There’s more to it than these highlights – check out the announcement blog post here:

The Scanner API is a vital tool for any organization that wants to deeply understand how Power BI is being used, with a goal of enabling and guiding adoption and building a data culture. These updates represent an incremental but meaningful evolution of the tool. If you’re already using the Scanner API, you may want to look at how to include this new metadata in your scenario. If you’re not yet using the Scanner API, maybe now is the time to begin…

[1] One of the key scenarios enabled by the Scanner API is integration with Microsoft Purview and third party data catalog tools like Collibra. When these tools “scan” Power BI to populate their catalogs, they’re calling this API.

Looking back: Five years on the Power BI CAT team

Five year ago this week I joined the Power BI Customer Advisory Team, commonly known as the CAT team.[1]

I didn’t know it at the time, but in early 2018 I made the most positive change in my two-plus decades working in tech. The work since then has often been challenging and difficult, but I have never felt more satisfied or more appreciated[2] than I have on this team. As I’ve shared before, I’ve worked in tech for over 25 years, but my time on this team has been the best of the lot, by a wide margin.

Why has my time on the Power BI CAT team been so amazing? Looking back over the past five years I see five key factors to my success.

A team that needed the unique strengths I bring
In 2018 the Power BI CAT team already had some of the world’s leading experts on Power BI and the Microsoft business intelligence platform. Although I’d been a data professional in my pre-Microsoft career, I was feeling a little stale on the hands-on side of things, and was definitely feeling my share of impostor syndrome as I started my new role.

What I found was that my product management, data warehousing, ETL, and data governance experience filled gaps in the team’s existing strengths. From the beginning I was welcomed and empowered to make suggestions and implement solutions to problems that the team had not previously been able to solve. Given the prevalence of “not invented here syndrome” in some parts of Microsoft, this welcome wasn’t something I could take for granted.

A team with strengths that complement my weaknesses
When I joined the Power BI CAT team I was anything but a Power BI expert.[3] I honestly don’t know why they hired me, because even in retrospect I don’t believe I was a great fit for the team’s priorities when I joined. Although I did bring my own unique strengths, the fact that I didn’t know the difference between Live Connection and Direct Query[4] had the potential to introduce challenges.

The entire team had my back. When I reached out to request assistance or to ask “dumb” questions, everyone stepped up to help out. They valued me and my unique background and perspective. They knew that it was a smart investment to help me get over these “new to space” speed bumps, and to get up to speed on the ins and outs of Power BI. They were right, of course, but given the competitive nature of some past teams, this support also wasn’t something I could take for granted.

A manager who consistently provides opportunity, trust, and support
It’s taken a real effort to keep this post from becoming fawning Marc Reguera fan appreciation, but I cannot overstate the impact made by having a great manager.  I’ve worked for some wonderful and helpful managers over the years, but I have never before worked for anyone with Marc’s gift. He deeply understands people’s strengths – what people are good at and what gives them joy and energy. He then finds high-value problems for them to solve using their strengths, and which align with the evolving goals of the team.

Time and again Marc enabled me to try new things, and provided a safe space for me to work outside my comfort zone. Marc tirelessly promoted my work and the results I delivered, and he consistently pushed me to do more and to think bigger. Marc saw strengths in me that I didn’t recognize in myself, and he gave me the opportunities to exercise those strengths. I put in the hard work, but Marc provided the environment for my work to deliver the most impressive results.

A leader and sponsor who earns and maintains my trust
How has Power BI gone from a new offering in 2015 to being the clear leader in business intelligence for many years running? This is a bigger question than I can answer in a blog post, but a lot of the answer is understanding what customers need, and relentlessly delivering improvements based on this understanding.

When I joined the Power BI team in 2018 we already had well-established channels for listening to users, and a team culture that prioritized acting on user input. What we didn’t yet have was a similarly strong channel to understand what large enterprise customer organizations needed to drive broad adoption and manage a complex user base. Much of what I’ve done since then has been building this channel and expanding on its scope and impact… but what does this have to do with leadership I can trust?

When you’re building a new customer feedback channel, sometimes you’ll learn things that don’t align with the status quo. Sometimes the feedback you’re sharing contradicts current understanding and plans. In my experience this is one of the most telling tests of an organization’s culture. I’ve worked on teams where sharing truths that don’t fit leadership’s narrative was a career-limiting move, but this is not the case on the Power BI team.

Instead, I’ve found the strongest executive sponsorship I can imagine, with leaders who are eager to learn about customers’ lived realities, and who are willing to change plans and priorities based on what they learn. At every step of the way, Arun Ulag and his leadership team have championed my work, and empowered me to make a bigger difference than I could ever had made otherwise. Having an executive sponsor isn’t only important for building a data culture.

A global pandemic that normalized remote work
This factor doesn’t really fit in with the other four, but if I’m being honest with myself I need to include it. Over the past few years I’ve written and spoken publicly about some of my personal mental health challenges, and how I’ve worked to find and apply the unique strengths produced by these challenges.

One challenge I never truly appreciated until remote/virtual work became the norm was how much energy I spent every day on face-to-face social activities. Walking to a conference room, making social chit-chat as people filter into the room, maintaining appropriate eye contact and body language throughout the meeting, walking to the next conference room, and repeating this pattern all day long. I’m exhausted just typing it.[5]

In all seriousness, I probably expended 30-40% of my total daily budget of emotional and intellectual energy[6] on these non-value-add activities. When I was working in person I could get the job done, but when everyone was working remotely I could thrive. It was like someone had removed a great weight I had been carrying so long I didn’t know it was there, and once that weight was gone I had so much more of everything to give.

Patrick seems excited that I made it through my list of Power BI CAT success factors

This post has ended up very different than the post I intended to write when I sat down at the keyboard, but it’s apparently the post that needed to come out. Sometimes you need to share your gratitude for the people and circumstances that have made your life better in important ways, and an anniversary like this is one of those times.

Five years ago I felt like my career had stalled, and it wasn’t clear to me what I should do next. Since I can’t begin to claim that the past five years of growth and success were planned, the next best thing is sharing a personal retrospective. I hope you’ll be able to look at these factors for my successes and find their parallels in your own life. If you find yourself on a team like this, you may want to stay there. If you find yourself on a team that’s the opposite of the Power BI CAT team, you may want to start looking for your next opportunity.

Here’s to another glorious five years.

[1] Let’s get it out of the way early: Yes, the T in CAT stands for Team. No, I don’t care. Work with me here.

[2] Yes, this appreciation includes bigger numbers with dollar signs next to them, but that is definitely not the most important part of the story.

[3] Let’s be honest – compared to most of my CAT counterparts, I’m still not.

[4] Seriously.

[5] I suspect that readers who have autism spectrum behaviors will be nodding along at this point. I know that it’s not just me.

[6] Or spoons, as my teenager assures me the kids no longer say.

Upcoming Power BI Adoption Pre-Conference Sessions

If you’re going to be near Copenhagen in September[1], Dublin in June, or New York City in May – I have exciting news for you!

On Friday May 5th, I will be joining the incredible Melissa Coates to co-present our “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Adopting Power BI in Your Organization” full-day pre-conference session as part of SQL Saturday NYC.

On Thursday June 8, Melissa and I will be on the other side of the Atlantic presenting “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Adopting Power BI in Your Organization” as a full-day pre-conference before the Data Ceili conference in Dublin, Ireland. I’m very excited to be returning to Dublin this year – I was scheduled to speak at Data Ceili 2020, but for some reason that trip didn’t happen as planned.

Finally, on Thursday September 21 I’ll be in Copenhagen, Denmark to deliver a full-day pre-conference session: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Power BI Adoption Roadmap as part of the amazing Power BI Next Step conference.

It’s unlikely that Melissa will be able to join me for Power BI Next Step. I’ll still be using the content framework she’s built, but the bottom line is that we’re less likely to stay on schedule during the day, and more likely to have slightly off-color stories to punctuate key learning topics. Depending on your learning style and priorities this could be a blessing or a curse.

If you missed our initial delivery of this session at the PASS Data Community Summit last November, please consider joining us at one of these sessions. Event details and registration links are below!

New York, NY, USA: Friday, May 5, 2023

Decorative SQL Saturday icon

Matthew and Melissa will be co-presenting at the SQL Saturday event in New York City on May 5th. This event will be held at the Microsoft office in Times Square. It’s an in-person session.

Pre-con registration: Hitchhikers Guide to Adopting Power BI – NYC May 5

Dublin, Ireland: Thursday, June 8, 2023

Matthew and Melissa will be co-presenting in Dublin, Ireland at the Data Ceili event on Ju

ne 8th. It’s held at the gorgeous Trinity College. It’s an in-person session.

Pre-con registration: Hitchhikers Guide to Adopting Power BI – Dublin June 8

Copenhagen, Denmark: Thursday, Sept 21, 2023

Decorative event icon for Power BI Next Step event

Matthew will be presenting solo at the Power BI Next Step event in Copenhagen, Denmark on Sept 21st. It’s an in-person session.

Pre-con info: Hitchhikers Guide to the Power BI Adoption Roadmap – Copenhagen Sept 21

[1] If you’ve never visited the Nordic countries in the fall, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ll always be partial to the islands of Stockholm, but Copenhagen is a close second on my list of places I want to be in September and October.

[2] Believe me, I know how you feel. An entire day with Matthew is a lot.

[3] Shamelessly copied from Melissa’s blog post, of course.

Power BI and PowerPoint integration – “Storytelling” is now generally available

Whether you love PowerPoint or whether you hate it,[1] PowerPoint is one of the most commonly used communication tools in organizations around the world. If you want to reach an audience with information, odds are you’re going to use PowerPoint.

One of the key goals in building and sustaining a healthy data culture is to have more people working with more of the right data in more of the right ways as part of their day to day work, replacing tribal knowledge with data-driven insights and actions. To achieve this goal, you need to bring the right data to the places where people are already working – to meet them where they are today.

As often as not, people are working in PowerPoint today. This is a signal that emerged strongly from the customer conversations I’ve had since joining the Power BI CAT team – enterprise customers[2] want the ability to seamlessly include Power BI reports and visuals in their PowerPoint presentations, to increase the reach and value of their investments in data and BI.

The Power BI team announced today that the “storytelling” integration between Power BI and PowerPoint is now generally available (GA) for Power BI customers everywhere, including customers using national clouds. The GA feature includes functional improvements based on feedback during preview, including the ability to embed individual visuals and to add “smart insights” generated from Power BI and added directly to the PowerPoint slide.

If your organization uses Power BI and PowerPoint, you should take a few minutes today to check out this important new release, and look for ways to incorporate it into your work.

[1] Or like me, both love and hate it!

[2] These are the customers I work with the most. I suspect there’s a similar signal waiting to be discovered from smaller organizations as well.