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Month: November 2010

Let your gray hair light your way through unfamiliar data

How do you approach unfamiliar data? An investment banker I talked to last week — one I know from a client’s whitepaper — rejects the “don’t think” method, advocated in my earlier post about Dan Murray. Instead, he thinks first, on paper.

“My approach is driven by having a bunch of gray hair,” says Michael Princi, managing director of ThoughtStorm Strategic Capital, a boutique investment bank and advisory firm in northern New Jersey. “I want to use my business acumen to tease out what might be the underlying issues.”

Experience counts The naive mind is prone to bad mistakes, he says. Take, for example, the 22-year-old analyst in India he employed who spotted this correlation: a firm’s revenue correlated with the number of Bobs in the workforce.

Hypothesize on paper “I first think through my hypothesis on paper,” he says. “‘It gives you a starting point.” If the model is wrong, as it often is, he just tries another one.

Test and repeat If the actual numbers are somewhat close to his expectations, he knows he’s on the right track. It’s the traditional consulting confirm-or-deny method. When the data does confirm his hypothesis, he’s able to run through the data again and again in iterations.

Test and repeat If the actual numbers are somewhat close to his expectations, he knows he’s on the right track. “It’s the traditional consulting confirm-or-deny method. It’s the quickest way I know. When the data does confirm his hypothesis, he’s able to run through the data again and again in iterations.

Does Michael Princi really analyze data differently from Dan Murray? They’ve never met, but Michael guesses not. He says of Dan, “I think he’s probably mapping it out intuitively.”

Do you have a routine for analyzing unfamiliar data? Please introduce yourself here.

Wayne Eckerson, BI explainer, jumps to TechTarget

One of the business intelligence industry’s best explainers, Wayne Eckerson, is leaving TDWI for TechTarget. For the everyday BI expert, it’s good gossip. — But for those still on the learning curve, it’s a cue to switch channels.

“It’s true,” he told me this morning about the rumors, “I’m departing the big TDWI in the sky for other pastures.” This week’s rumors were only the latest; I heard the first wave back in early 2009 that he was looking to jump the fence.

The new pasture, as of November 15, will be as director of research at TechTarget with BeyeNETWORK co-founder Ron Powell. On the side, Wayne will also run a consulting firm, BI Leader Consulting.

For him, it’s a leap. He’s been associated with TDWI since 1995, employed there since 1998. He leaves his marks everywhere: director of TDWI Research, creator of the Executive Summit, for a while director of education. See the long history in his blog post.

For us, it’s a moment to pause in appreciation. Few others I know of can explain basic BI concepts as well. Some of his long roots are in newspapering, and they showed its value in his book, Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (Wiley; 2005). It was the first book I ever read on business intelligence and a valuable primer. Without it, I couldn’t have penetrated most of the books, blogs, and articles I found later.

His jump happens to coincide, by the way, with the release of his book’s second edition — still on sale, at least as of Thursday afternoon, at the TDWI Bookstore.