The past few years have witnessed a steady democratization of data. The sheer volume of data generated by present day businesses puts the role of a Business Analyst in particular focus. Gartner holds out 2017 as ‘The year that Data and Analytics go mainstream’. This creates a strong demand pull for capable and skill ready Business Analysts, and the Internet provides ready access to a treasure trove of free resources that ought to be a part of every Business Analyst’s Toolkit.
Follow Leading Analytics Blogs
The best things in life often come free. So do these blogs which are insightful, informative and allow the reader the comfort of reading and upskilling at one’s own pace. Some of the most notable mentions are:-
- IBM Big Data Hub
- Business Analyst Learnings
- Bob The BA
- BA Times
- Modern Analyst
- The Analyst Coach
Reading these blogs will serve two key purposes. On one hand, they will render an industry overview of the current best practices to the reader. On the other hand, they will provide pointers on which direction the individual should proceed in order to further develop him/ herself.
Shadow Analytics Influencers
The analytics space is clustered with data scientists and veterans who have championed the field. Many of them regularly share interesting knowledge nuggets that are worth absorbing and pondering over. A few of these influencers are:
- Jeremy Waite: Jeremy heads Digital Strategy for Salesforce’s EMEA Marketing Cloud and can be followed here.
- Ben Lorica: Ben is O’Reilly Media’s Chief Data Scientist and Director of Content Strategy and an authority on Big Data. He can be followed on Twitter here. He blogs here.
- Bernard Marr: An astute analytics practitioner and author, Bernard can be followed here.
- Kirk Borne: Renowned in the data community especially as a data scientist, he posts here.
- James Kobielus: Spearheading IBM’s thought leadership projects in analytics, his posts are available here.
- Avinash Kaushik: An Indian focusing his data knowledge around web analytics and customer satisfaction, Avinash’s blogs are a delight to read.
- Paul Shapiro: Being a digital marketer behind data, Paul takes a slightly different approach than other influencers and focuses on the analytics behind marketing.
The follower can make a weekly list of all fact based tidbits that are shared and also use this list for further online research and study.
Webinars are seminars conducted over the web. In spirit, they are the closest thing to classroom coaching with the added convenience of the viewer’s home. Webinars provide participants some great opportunities to pick up new concepts. Here are some effective webinar sources to follow –
- Gartner: This is an expansive repository to learn anything about Analytics. From how to measure customer experience to building a data-centric organization – everything can be found here.
- Dataversity: Slightly more advanced, the content here relates to the details of data governance, data modeling and how to monetize.
- Kissmetrics: The sessions here are built around embedding analytics in eCommerce and SaaS businesses.
All of the above will help arm an individual with the know-how of what is needed for analytics assignments and how to go about them.
Start Playing with Data
It is one thing to learn theories and quite another to put them into practice. Having picked up the concepts, the individual should start living with and loving data. Several online portals such as Analytics Vidhya provide various data sets and challenges for users to solve. The more time the user spends solving such challenges, the better he/she gets. There are also data hackathons and online challenges all of which can be good communities to connect, share and grow. Some of the better-known resources are:-
Visualize, Visualize, Visualize
Finally, analysis is only half the battle, while presentation is the other. Every Business Analyst worth his/her grain of salt knows how important a well-designed dashboard or report is. A user must learn the tips and tricks to build a visually appealing dashboard that is intuitive and instantly connects with a business expert.
Tableau is a leader in this respect finding place in Gartner’s 2017 Magic Quadrant. It allows for one year’s free installation and uses for learning purposes. There is a steady community of help and support around this. Blogs like Analytics Vidhya, provide a step by step guide on how to get better at the visualization game.0