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What a Mentor Taught Me About Being an Analyst - Part One

As I transitioned to becoming an industry analyst 25 years ago, I was fortunate to have a mentor that took me under his wing and taught me some important lessons that still guide me to this day.

“Mike” was a pretty polarizing figure. He was outspoken and could be sharply critical. His advice was pointed and could be harsh. You either liked him or you didn’t. But, if you asked him for help or feedback, he was supportive and generous with his time.  I decided early on to ask him for help, which ultimately made me a better analyst.

So, 25 years later, here are several of those lessons:

1)     Teach a process: Provide the tools to see a problem in a new light and successfully tackle it.

2)     Challenge “sacred cows”: Go against the grain of conventional wisdom, providing a broader and more informed perspective on a topic.

3)     Develop an expert: Arm people with insights to make them respected subject-matter authorities within their organization.

4)     Help save money: Supported with critical information and skills, help people make better investment decisions for their organizations.

These are the set of guiding principles behind our research and our upcoming Real Business Intelligence conference (July 11th and 12th on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, MA):

Our inaugural conference is designed to be small and intimate. It’s a single track event intended to ensure that each attendee receives 100% of the benefit of being there - as well as meaningful networking with peers and faculty.  

All sessions have been curated and staffed to support these guiding principles and each will help to make attendees subject-matter authorities and will help to save their organizations money. Many will also teach process and will challenge conventional wisdom.

Here are some examples of sessions that will teach process:

-         In the Performance-Directed Culture Workshop, Bill Hostmann and I offer a process for diagnosing an organization’s readiness, with some recommendations, towards becoming more fact-driven, transparent and collaborative. This session brings alive the diagnostic which I developed for my second book, Profiles in Performance, Business Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change.

-         In Secrets of Building Actionable KPIS, Mico Yuk presents a process for developing meaningful and impactful performance indicators using her famous BIDF methodology, which is documented in her book, Data Visualization for Dummies.

-         In David Dadoun’s session, Creating and Sustaining a Governance Program, he shares what a governance program actually entails, the associated benefits, and key lessons learned in developing a successful initiative. David is Aldo Group's Director of Business Intelligence and Data Governance.

-         In Jim Ericson’s Moving Business Intelligence to the Cloud, he’ll share our core research on the topic, as well as case studies and a decision structure to decide if you should move and to what degree. Jim is a VP and Research Director with Dresner Advisory Services, and coauthors much of our industry research – including Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence, in its sixth year of publication.

-         In Chuck Hooper’s Great Storytelling with Data, he teaches us the processes and components involved in telling any story, whether you are selling a product or service, asking for a raise, or, are an executive presenting to the media. Chuck documents these techniques in his book, 59 Minutes to Great Storytelling.

-         In Nathan Kollett’s Self-Service Business Intelligence: Separating Hype from Reality, he’ll discuss the do’s and don’ts of self-service Business Intelligence, focusing on the idea that, although technology is necessarily at the center of any BI analytics platform, it is the people and processes that ultimately make it work and enable you to transform your business. Nathan is a Senior Product Manager within the Analytics group at Wayfair.

In a future article, I’ll share with you some of those sessions which challenge many of the “sacred cows” in the industry!

In conclusion, Real Business Intelligence will deliver much more than a typical conference. We will deliver an experience, with a taste of the mentorship that I experienced early in my career.

I hope you can join us!

Best,

Howard

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