Needing a break from the taxing job of pulling together my personal New Year's resolutions, I started to think about ways in which analytics professionals could improve themselves for the year ahead. Here are a few quick ideas.
1. Do data for good.
You have analytical smarts to share, so undertake one project in 2014 that will help make a difference to the world around you. Think small, and personal -- volunteering to develop a spreadsheet program for your child's school, creating a database for the pet shelter you like, or helping a local club analyze its social media activity. Or, think more formalized and of broader scope, perhaps by checking out the project opportunities at organizations like DataKind
or helping out with next year's Hour of Code
. Perhaps you'll find inspiration in these posts: Needed for Social Good: Bright Data Minds
, DataKind's Jake Porway: Inspired by Data Volunteers
, and Data Scientists Do Good for Charitable Groups
2. Liven up your data presentations. Static reports are out, dynamic data visualizations are in. As appropriate, do your best to present data visually. Better yet, give the business users the opportunity to interact with the data visualizations you create. Being able to add in or take out variables, for example, will help them see, in an instant, what might happen in any what-if scenario they can imagine. You need to be an advocate for putting this type of power in decision maker's hands. Get guidance in these posts: Data Visualization Dos & Don'ts, 5 Tips to Help SMBs Get Visual With Data, and 4 Quick Tips for Data Visualization Newbies.
3. Read a few good books.
As analytics professionals, you're living in a world of rapid change. Keep pace by picking up a good book or three throughout the year. Your choices are plentiful, as this quick sampling of 2013 publications shows. Any of these books, which we've highlighted in our All Analytics radio broadcasts, would serve as a good starting point: Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data
, by Phil Simon (tune in for the A2 Radio interview
); Health Analytics: Gaining the Insights to Transform Health Care
, by Jason Burke (tune in to the A2 Radio interview
); and Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die
, by Eric Siegel (tune in to the A2 Radio interview
4. Learn a new skill. Being able to show continued development in your work will help get the attention of your boss, your peers, and potential new employers, as we pointed out here: Thinking MBA for Career Growth? Hang on.... If you don't know R, participate in an open-source development project and learn it. If you aren't familiar with customer link analysis, read up on it and try it out. If you haven't begun to work with visual analytics tools, play around. Test out new modeling techniques by participating in a data science competition. I could go on and on, but you get the idea!
5. Brush up your resume. Even if you love your job, do yourself a big favor in 2014 and freshen up your resume. Sometimes, the next greatest job opportunity comes when you least expect it, and you'll want to be prepared. Does your resume reflect current thinking on what's in-demand and what's not? Have you played up the skills that employers want today? Hopefully, you can deliver the best synopsis of yourself with a bit of editing. Then, if you do want a new job, applying will be that much easier. For some refreshers, check out: 8 Tips for Getting the Analytics Job You Want and How to Get Your Analytics Resum้ Noticed.
What resolutions have you made for a better year ahead? Do tell!
— Beth Schultz, , Editor in Chief, AllAnalytics.com