Where Are People Going to Keep up with the Latest in the Field of Business Intelligence?

A few tips on how to find worthwhile information in a noisy field without increasing your stress level.

What if you would just stop trying to stay up to date with the newest developments related to your work? There is no way that you could just stop learning and be certain that you deliver high quality work. With all the new publications, articles and technology coming out that are associated to BI, how to identify what is worth the time investment? Where should you draw the line? Does anybody else share the feeling that they might be missing something essential everyone else knows about?

The first step is to relax, and take a step back. BI means lots of things to lots of people and the term gets thrown around quite a bit in addition. In such a booming and active field, it can be overwhelming at times to try and keep up with just the high quality information which is relevant to your daily tasks and goals. Trying to know about every single tool and fad is a sure way for stress and lost time.

While there are excellent news sites and magazines, there is no one-size-fits all. Luckily you can create your own set of perfectly tailored information sources with a bit of effort. Before continuing, I would like to cite a quote, commonly attributed to Mr. Edison:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Be specific.

You need to get specific to find information that you care about. Start by writing down your current and aspired job title. Add a set of specific topics that you work with or are currently learning about, like data quality, visualizations, data governance or ETL. By searching for these topics and your peers you will find a part of what you are looking for. Communities, mailing lists, tutorials, blogs and other resources on these topics will lead you to people who care about them and like to share. Follow topics and questions that might interest you on Quora, find people who give worthwhile answers and find out more about their online activity. Twitter or groups on business networking sites are just as relevant, as highly targeted subreddits, such as /r/ETL or /r/businessintelligence with real people having real discussions instead of endless vendor promotions.

For the technical side of the craft, you can do the same searches for your tools of choice and the associated companies. In addition, local user groups can often be found through Meetup.com. Conferences or organizations such as DAMA or TDWI could be active in your viscinity and are probably worth checking out to get in touch with peers.

How do people use your work?

You don’t work in a vacuum. This is what makes BI such an interesting field - your work has direct impact on the speed and quality of important decisions and how well the company is doing. There is a lot to learn from trying to approach your work from the consumer side of things. What are the problems that you are solving with your work?

How do people consume the reports you contribute to, what do similar customers struggle with in the wild, how have other companies achieved similar goals. Are the processes comparable? Figure out how what you deliver affects or could have affected these and what changes can be put in place to accomplish them.

These are significantly harder to look for and the “what” and “where” are very specific to your industry and company, but the effort is worth the investment and will deliver better results for your career in the long term than idle browsing general purpose news aggregation sites could.

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