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Month: March 2011

Running through a data analyst’s mind late at night

From an email to me this week. Quoted with permission.

I’ve been doing this ‘data analyst’ thing for almost a decade now and I’m not even sure I’m doing it right. Does anyone really know what a data analyst is? I’m a Microsoft Access guy that got lucky and learned SQL from a bunch of very sharp devs. Then I got lucky again when I met [name withheld] and discovered [name of tool withheld]. Now I get to play with data in a creative way. I guess that makes me a data analyst. I know there are better da’s out there that write ugly SQL, but they get the job done so I guess it’s not about coding. I think we’re riding a wave right now. Old bi, New bi … it’s all blurring together. … I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I know that sometimes I help people and sometimes the work I do makes it easier for them to do the work they do.  For me, that’s enough.

Antidote for too-dull-to-read case studies: fiction

Business intelligence involves the most triumphant stories. In the best cases, they meander all the way from "we were really screwed up" all the way down to "new knowledge, new profits." Yet too many case studies are too dry to stick. Marketers know that the human part of those stories is what makes them stick, yet it's hard to reveal anything publicly. Now a Financial Times writer argues that fiction — not non-fiction — is the best way to understand Libya under its dictator, so perhaps it's the best way to understand some organizations. So try fiction.

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