A week or two back the entire Purple Frog and Power BI Sentinel team traveled over to Wales to attend SQLBits, which if you didn’t know, is the world’s largest data platform event! This year we had the privilege to go SQLBits wearing two hats; delegate and sponsor – go big or go home, right? I thought I’d share some insights into what I, and the team, thought about spending a week at the ICC Wales with overwhelming amounts of training to consume…

The Power BI Sentinel sponsored stand set-up at SQLBits with swag and televisions etc


Non-technical sessions are the essential bits and bobs that aren’t typically shared at a data conference but are always super important and interesting. This year SQLBits had more submissions for the non-technical track than any before, including a few submissions from the frogs on social media, business, and finance; all things a business should know, and need to know to succeed, some may say… 😊

One non-technical session I attended was by Hollie (AKA Chief Frog) which was all about why the people in your business are important and why you should invest in them so that the employees grow and thrive with the business, which had a great turn-out of in-person and virtual attendees. I even featured in a cameo when Hollie was talking about the advantages of apprenticeships, which was a nice touch!

There was also a great influx of mental health-related sessions by a range of speakers, which I think was a lovely touch for a conference to get involved in not only raising awareness but promoting and encouraging everyone to speak out. I would totally recommend the following non-technical session if you see them being presented elsewhere in the near future…

…and that’s just a few of the atypical sessions SQLBits had to offer that really stood out to me covering a full range of insights and importance that I believe are truly beneficial to everyone and anyone.

Hollie talks about digital skills and the importance of people in your business at SQLBits


Technical sessions

Moving on to technical sessions! As I land in a ‘non-technical’ role at Purple Frog, the team were the ones attending the majority of these sessions, however, I did get to peek into a few of the session presented by the other frogs throughout the week, which included:

Power BI Composite and Hybrid Models AND Power BI governance, disaster recovery, and auditing by Alex Whittles. As Alex is the founder of Power BI Sentinel, it’s no shock that his expertise lies in such an area (I mean, it’s literally in the name!) so to see a jam-packed room being taught how to take Power BI to the next level was no surprise here. As someone who is not a ‘techie’, to sit and watch how invested and attentive the audience is, was eye-opening as to the world of data and how knowledgeable the Purple Frog team is – and the feedback also helps write a picture that, as always, these were great sessions!

Lewis and Joe were both first-time speakers at SQLBits, going from a presentation in the office to a full-on stage is a huge achievement – kudos!

Lewis’ session was about machine learning and artificial intelligence, a rising topic in the data platform world as I’m sure you’re aware!  The exact title was ‘Model Creation in Azure AutoML and Ingestion Through Excel’ where he began at the basics of introducing ML and shared some basics concepts, which – to me – was great as it meant everyone can be involved and encouraged those just starting in the field that it isn’t as scary as can be assumed. Although there may have been some time management issues (not pointing ANY fingers 😉), it was an informative talk with a great share of live demos and knowledge shared about machine learning as a whole and Auto ML too.

We go back to the Power BI theme for Joe’s talk, which was presented in our sponsored room, as it revolved around Understanding and Managing Data Lineage in Power BI (with the help of Power BI Sentinel #NotAnAd) where Joe shared some of the features Power BI has on knowing where your data came from, the transformation it undergoes and how you can keep it safe (that Power BI Sentinel can do for you and MORE #StillNotAnAd). Overall, Joe presented a useful session revolving around how to monitor and manage data in Power BI from its source to the end-users who are consuming it and gave many examples of how to do so.

Joe presenting a Power BI Sentinel related session in our sponsored room at SQLBits


Evening events


Moving on to a topic at SQLBits that is sure to grab your attention, is the evening activities! The Purple Frog and Power BI Sentinel team really got involved in everything that was put on after-hours at SQLBits, including games night and a pub quiz night (AKA Trivia night) with little persuasion needed. Although we may not have won –or lost – on either night, it was a fun bit of team bonding to lift the spirits after a few days of learning. We would highly recommend coming to SQLBits as a full team, as there is something for everyone and the team get to share and disperse the knowledge they learned with one another while having fun spending time together.

The part where Purple Frog really knocked it out of the park was at the famous SQLBits party, we graced the party as a community of purple (naturally!) pointy-hatted wizards we were easy to spot from miles away!

The Purple Frog Systems Team sat dressed up as wizards on the SQLBits signage letters

The entirety of SQLBits was an opportunity we all grabbed with two hands and ended up having a brilliant time. So, would I suggest going to SQLBits as a team? Let me answer in a language you techies will understand, 100%!