I did my first ever conference presentation last month at the Higher Education Data Warehouse (HEDW) conference. HEDW conference was held this year between April 19-22 in Normal, Illinois. The conference was held at a hotel but it was only few minutes away from Illinois State University. I was the only presenter from Arizona State University among 50 or so presenters from various higher education institutions. There were lot of folks this year. I don’t know the official count but it seemed liked there were more than 500 people.

Illinois State University

My presentation was on ASU Analytics SharePoint UI Customization, where I talked about how we customized our new Analytics portal built using SharePoint 2013. The slides are available in the link above only for HEDW members. You can become a HEDW member if you have a .edu email address. I also provided step by step instructions on customizing SharePoint for their own institutions and provided the entire code and instructions to the attendees. I’ll create a separate blog post that talks about the customization of SharePoint and how to create a custom theme with more elaborate details than what you can get from the slides.

Me presenting at HEDW

My presentation was at the end of the day so I was pretty much forced to be nervous all day, but the turnout wasn’t what I was expecting. It was less than I imagined, about 15 people I believe, but that probably made it a lot better since it was easier to deal with a smaller crowd. After the first few minutes I lost all my nervousness and felt really comfortable speaking. It was scheduled for an hour but I had almost 10 minutes left at the end of my presentation and had enough time to take questions. All in all I consider it a success for my first conference presentation.

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the slides from the presentation.

Presentation Slide

I really enjoyed most of the presentations and met lot of people. I got to see what other institutions does when it comes to Data Warehouse, Reporting and Analytics and Data Governance. You get to see new products and processes deployed at other Universities and their success stories (no one wants to talk about their failures). Data Governance and Cloud solutions were the big themes this year. The conference was exhausting. There were fours presentations going on simultaneously almost every hour from 8AM to 5PM. Even though it was busy for the four days I was there, I took some time to tour the ISU campus with flowers in full bloom and walk around downtown and also take a really long hike at the Constitution Trail. It was a really beautiful small mid-western college town and with the weather being awesome, the trip was memorable.

Illinois State University, Normal

Small Free Library at Constitution Trail, Normal