When I first started going to the PASS Summit, I was enthralled with the speakers, no matter what the topic. Meeting Kalen Delaney at the first Summit was a milestone in my career. In those early years, there weren’t many speakers, and they submitted the talks they were interested in giving. The program committee made their decisions, and many of us went to watch whatever was available. The surface area of SQL Server was much smaller, so we could probably guess many of the topics, and that worked out well.
As SQL Server has grown, some of us have questioned the makeup of the sessions over time. At one point it seemed we were very light on BI, almost as if the conference hadn’t kept pace with the changes in the platform. It seemed that the next conference was based on ratings and attendance from the previous Summit, but that’s a slowly changing way to pick talks.
Things changed, and for a number of years PASS has been trying to understand what content you’d like to see. There have been surveys and polls to understand not only what worked last year, but what changes should happen this year. Last year’s tracks were set not by technology, but by the Analyze/Build/Design/etc. monikers. I’m not sure I loved that, but it was a worthy experiment.
There’s a survey open from PASS from now until Feb 14, trying to understand what you’d like to see. Once again, they are asking what you’d like to see. I’d encourage all of you to fill it out, as you can truly influence the balance of sessions that will be presented. Do you want more ML/AI/bots, and other advanced topics? Do you need more beginning content for your junior DBAs? Is the core engine still important for you, or are you looking for SSIS, SSRS, or other content. Power BI on your radar?
Speakers often have preferences, and I see no shortage of conferences that just pick talks from what they get. This can make a disjointed event at times. I like the idea of having submissions in areas that I might not consider as an organizer, but I also think that inviting speakers to talk on specific topics is good. I’m glad PASS does a mix of these things, inviting some speakers, asking for topics, and also taking community submissions. Many of us that present are happy to slightly tailor our talks if we know that’s what the audience wants.
So take the survey, with a chance to win a Summit admission. Tell the committee if DevOps and testing are important (they are), or if you want to see more SSAS content (are there that many of you using this?). Even if you aren’t going, it’s useful for us as a community to learn what’s of interest to everyone. I’d also request that you ask PASS to release the data, which will help SQL Saturdays and other events better plan their schedules.