5 Resolutions for the Analytically Inclined


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 Resumé Noticed.

What resolutions have you made for a better year ahead? Do tell!

— Beth Schultz, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook, Editor in Chief, AllAnalytics.com

Beth Schultz, Editor in Chief

Beth Schultz has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor.  Most recently, she brought her expertise to bear writing thought-provoking editorial and marketing materials on a variety of technology topics for leading IT publications and industry players.  Previously, she oversaw multimedia content development, writing and editing for special feature packages at Network World. In particular, she focused on advanced IT technology and its impact on business users and in so doing became a thought leader on the revolutionary changes remaking the corporate datacenter and enterprise IT architecture. Beth has a keen ability to identify business and technology trends, developing expertise through in-depth analysis and early adopter case studies. Over the years, she has earned more than a dozen national and regional editorial excellence awards for special issues from American Business Media, American Society of Business Press Editors, Folio.net, and others.

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Re: Start Writing
  • 1/5/2014 12:15:33 PM
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Jasprice, certainly words have lot of power. If people can benefit from your knowledge and experience and make it work for their advantage, your objective of becoming a writer stands rewarded. Best of luck for your objective of 2014.

Re: Volunteerism
  • 1/5/2014 9:30:35 AM
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Sethbreedlove, God forbid that someone goes out of work but when he or she is then they should take out time to polish their skills. I agree that it is easier said than done but if one doesn't lose composure then it is an opportunity in a losing scenario. Having the right analytical skills means that one can find assignments even without going out of home.

Re: Start Writing
  • 1/3/2014 3:43:25 PM
NO RATINGS

@jasprice, if you're interesting in sharing your expertise in analytics, technology, and business here on All Analytics, let's talk! You can reach me by email: editors@allanalytics.com

Start Writing
  • 1/3/2014 10:57:03 AM
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One of my goals for 2014 is to begin writing again.   I had a brief stint a couple years ago in which I wrote articles about analytics, technology, and business.   Basically, some of the issues I faced with my day-to-day work and how I solved them.    It is time consuming but definitley well worth it, especially when you get in the habit of doing it on a regular basis.  It also helps others (and myself) connect real-world challenges with solutions.

Re: Volunteerism
  • 1/2/2014 5:59:50 PM
NO RATINGS

Volunteer work is how I've kept some of my analytical skills sharp.  You'd be amazed of how much of a need is out there. And if you are out of work, it is a good way to network and fill in any gaps on a resume. 

Re: Volunteerism
  • 1/2/2014 2:43:23 PM
NO RATINGS

Michael, it is true that all analysis that is performed has sole objective of bringing in money. For the systems and apps that cost a lot, this concept becomes more relevant as people want return on investment.

Readers are leaders
  • 1/2/2014 10:31:31 AM
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Beth, agreed on all 5 resolutions. I am a firm believer of the idea that 'readers are leaders' and in rapidly changing environment, this saying becomes even more relevant. People are writing a lot of stuff on how to manage change and go with what's in.

Re: Volunteerism
  • 12/31/2013 8:12:15 PM
NO RATINGS

I like the straight-forward framing of the impact of cash in an organization, be it sales or donations.  It's great that SAS works to include nonprofits in its examples, as they can lag a bit. But it is no worse than many for-profits, for sure. I am intrigued by rbaz's efforts and hope that similar opportunities come for many analysts and professional with rbaz's heart!

Re: Volunteerism
  • 12/31/2013 7:29:02 PM
NO RATINGS

I think the easiest approach may be to follow the money, Pierre. What does a nonprofit want? More donations. What does a business want? More revenue. So the tools that help with those goals are a smart way to get started. I know SAS (this site's sponsor) always runs demos of its software tools using a fictional nonprofit that's analyzing donor data to predict the best repeat donors.

Re: Volunteerism
  • 12/31/2013 6:29:56 PM
NO RATINGS

Beth,

I think Obama's success in his election campaigns have initiated further interest in leveraging data in an organization outside of business, certainly evident with Ghani's interview and insights

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