SAS Talks Backstage Sneak Peek: Soft skills required for BI developers

Whether you call it Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, Visual Analytics, etc. - getting information to the users when they need it and make it actionable requires more than just software. BI Content Developers can have a certification but to be successful they really need to have an understanding of human behavior.

NEW: You can view a recording of the webcast that Eric Rossland, Tricia Aanderud and I participated in at SAS Global Forum 2012. We spoke to this as well as other organizational strategies to implement BI.

Old Text: As Eric Rossland, Tricia Aanderud and I discuss building better business intelligence this morning at 10am, and some of these topics will certainly come up.

  1. Highlighting issues via timely, relevant indicator ranges or dashboard/report traffic-lighting.
    If the measure is always red, people begin to ignore it. If the measure changes every couple of minutes, there is no time to take action to improve upon it. The technology isn't difficult and is well documented; you need to understand the data and make relevant ranges to cause users to take action when it is appropriate.
  2. Visually representing data in a meaningful way.
    Take pattern detection, we can run through heavy analytical models, describe statistical scores, etc. - but an investigator wants to see the pattern outright, needs to make inferences based on what is shown on the screen.
  3. Making the interface interactive.
    People like to click around; they like to 'play' with puzzles. Having the interface, dashboard, report look neat and interesting generates interest. Visually pleasing screens will keep users around. Adding puzzle pieces adds the 3rd component by getting users to ask questions and critically evaluate the content on the screen. Ultimately keeping users engaged on the site the longest.
  4. Getting into the nitty-gritty.
    Once the user decides to investigate an item further, they need more detail from there. The functionality of building linked reports, adding click-through to detail, or viewing pop-ups with relevant content immediately is not difficult to implement. The developer must need to understand what the user has to have right then to make appropriate decisions.

What other soft skills do you think BI Developers should have to be successful?

tags: SAS BI Book, SASGF

One Comment

  1. Posted May 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    One of the most important skills is to be a good listener. You have to hear what your customer says directly and what they say indirectly. For instance, consider this sentence, "I really need a report that but the vice president prefers ". You better probe that statement to find out who is really setting the requirements! Also how close or far apart the preferences really are - can you find a way to bridge the gap?

    ;-)

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