Congratulations to User Group Leader, Vivek Patel and the Toronto PUG on Winning the September PUG Leader Challenge. We sat down with Vivek to find out more about the Toronto User Group. Here are his answers.
What motivated you to start a PUG?
o My Power BI Journey is a passion for BI which turned into motivation. My BI journey started in 2001 with excel > 2004-Reporting Services > 2009-Performance Point Server 2007 > 2010-PowerPivot for Excel 2010 and PowerPivot for SharePoint > 2012-Power Pivot + Power View > 2013-Power Query + Power Map and on July 24, 2015 to Power BI.
o By Understanding Power BI capabilities at an early stages and amazing picture you can paint with data, my passion changed to motivation. Motivation to share Power BI knowledge within my company.
o Being ambassador for Power BI in my organization for few months, Miguel Martinez blog post on November 3, 2015 (Power BI User Groups are here! :- Power BI User Groups are here!) was the best post I ever read. It was the opportunity I was waiting for to share Power BI knowledge and facilitate a forum for Business Intelligence professionals in the Toronto area to network, share experiences and learn from peers and industry experts about the Microsoft BI solution.
o Microsoft Power BI Toronto group was approved on 01/04/2016. On 02/28/2017, we added 2 additional tools Power Apps and Microsoft Flow to our user group. Because of this change, our user group name changed to Toronto Power BI, Power Apps, Flow Meetup.
How did your group get started?
o As mentioned earlier, Miguel Martinez blog post on November 3, 2015 (Power BI User Groups are here! :- Power BI User Groups are here!) was the starting point. Our first meetup was at Mississauga library on 01/08/2016 with 4 participants and today we have 617 active members. Our group membership increased significantly in the last few months and have user group organizers. Ashraf Ghonaim and Miguel Myers have accepted to be organizers and are helping me with user group activities.
o Toronto Power BI, Power Apps, Flow Meetup Statistics
o Group started on 01/04/2016
o Total 49 events = 1044 Participants
o 188 members joined in 2016
o 429 members joined in 2017
§ 202 members joined in last 2 months
How do you encourage your members to network and share best practices?
o Arranging meetings on a monthly cycle, carefully selecting, organizing and presenting topics that inspire members to attend a meetup, a venue close to members, food and convenient timing are very critical for members’ participation. Toronto is a very large area and we do not want to miss any opportunity to help our community. We go where members are and that is the reason our user group organizes 2 meetups (Repeat sessions) every month- Toronto Downtown for the east end of the city and Mississauga for the west end.
o Our meetings are usually 3 hours; two 1-hour presentations (we invite and encourage community members to present), 30 minutes on latest Power BI monthly update and 30 minutes for networking.
o Occasionally our members present personal success stories using Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.
o Apart from Power BI, we cover 2 integrated technologies (PowerApps and Microsoft Flow) which are popular amongst early adopters. We recently arranged a beginner session on PowerApps + Microsoft Flow and meetup was well received with 88 RSVP and 62 Attendees.
o To sum it up, we try our best to provide maximum value for the time members are investing by coming to meetups. We also share presentation materials after each meetup.
What do you think makes your group successful?
o Understanding/listening to member’s needs and Interests
o Improving existing service and Experimenting with new options to add value:, eg. A recent addition was an “Ask the Expert” area during the Meetup
o Coffee with Power BI: - Small informal group discussion
o Active participation by members: - Presentation, Meetup volunteer, prompting via member’s network.
o Using social media to brand “Toronto Power BI, Power Apps, Flow Meetup” as the best place for Business Intelligence professionals in the Toronto area to network, share experiences and learn from peers and industry experts.
o There are individuals who equally contributed to PUG success.
o Sandy Rivas during initial preparation for PUG
o Chuck’s team for constantly feeding latest information via webinar. We post webinar links on Meetup for members to RSVP.
o Dynamic communities (Quinne Germain, Rose Spitzer, Bob Buresh and Akshay Anikhindi-redesigning new user group site) for above and beyond effort helping user group.
o Local Microsoft Support: - Milos Glisic, Eduard Davidzhan, Filip Karadzic, Kim Li, Teresita Migia
o Senior Member participation: - Simon Nuss, Spence, Jerome, Rayis Imayev
o Finally, the effort from my team at Aecon Group Inc for helping me organizing events.
Tell us about your plans for the rest of the year
o Planning and organizing Power BI world tour-Toronto event on October 4-5 is our biggest opportunity to grow the community. Our team and Dynamic communities are working hard to make this event successful.
o Conducting survey and collecting feedback during the world tour to enhance the user group experience.
o Exploring new ideas to increase community engagement
o Collaborating with user groups in the Toronto region.
o Virtual Meeting – Looking for support (Tool) from Microsoft.
o Finding Gold sponsor for user group events, which takes up maximum effort and time currently.
o Involving community members to be: - Co-Organizers, Volunteers and experts to help community