How to Become a Data Ninja and Develop a Data Ninja Culture

Creating a BI Roadmap, getting a BI Competency Center in place, and investing in training your team will allow you to flourish as a data-driven organization. 

When you think about a ninja, what traits come to mind? 

Agile? 
Quick-thinking? 
Respected?
Ability to rise-to-the-challenge?
Strategic knowledge? 

Those are just a few that come to mind for me.  And I think it’s fair to say that anyone in the BI industry wants their data analysis skills to be described like this, right? 

So how does a data analyst become a data ninja? What will it take to get you there? And how can you become a catalyst and respected leader to promote change to develop a data ninja culture in your own organization? 

On the journey to becoming a data driven organization, there are three components that often get neglected and can separate the average business analyst from the data ninjas. 

  1. BI ROADMAP
    You must first ensure your company has a clear BI roadmap and will support a data driven culture.  Successful BI initiatives depend on successful BI strategies and having a clear roadmap for the future.  
  2. BI COMPETENCY CENTER
    You need to create a competency center that will foster and drive user adoption throughout the organization.
  3. TRAINING
    You need to prioritize training, continuous learning and custom mentoring for yourself so that you can maximize your ROI. By investing in yourself and improving your skills, you will truly become a ‘master’ of your trade.    

But before we can talk about training for you and leading a data-driven company culture, we address the first component, making sure you have the most important piece in place…

BI ROADMAP

Surprisingly, a lot of senior leaders can’t answer simple questions such as:

“What should our analytics efforts focus on?” or
“What questions can we answer with our data?”

The latter especially results in a massive laundry list of ‘asks’ for various reports and data analyses with no tie to the business.  

Yet, 55% of high achieving companies say analytics are absolutely critical (and an additional 35% say it’s very important) to driving their company’s overall business strategy and operational outcomes according to Salesforces’ State of Analytics 2015 Report.

Setting up a roadmap involves aligning your BI activities to your company values and objectives and determining which activities will make best use of information to advance the business.   

BI should serve everyone in the organization no matter their role.  The challenge is to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time to maximize achievement of organizational objectives. 

The BI strategy must guide users along the path of continuous change, continuous improvement, and pragmatic delivery of high value information so that it changes behaviors. It will affect data collection, integration, access, and analysis. It will include methodology, processes, framework, governance, systems, and technology.  

Just like a ninja, you must think strategically and act tactically when you develop your roadmaps.  You don’t want to be on a quest to nowhere; you must envision your journey and align your strategy to the business.  

GET STARTED ON A BI COMPETENCY CENTER

Now that you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you can begin to champion and promote the rest of your team and your company to adopt BI tools and strategies. 

Having a clear BI strategy will set the stage for developing your BI Competency Center, which will aid in managing your deployment and resources more efficiently and secure commitment and credibility through consistency. 

Simply put, a BICC provides oversight of the BI implementation and will lay the framework for corporate standards/governance and architecture. It promotes re-use and data quality as well as application and data consistency.  

Creating a BICC is one of the first steps you can take in increasing the likelihood of company-wide buy in of your BI system. 

Howard Dressner from Dressner Advisory Services recently released research suggesting that having BICC in place seems to “kickstart” your BI adoption throughout the company. The research also suggestions organizations with BICC are more likely to be successful with BI. 

  

Doug Henschen, the Executive Editor of InformationWeek provides seven steps to a successful BICC

  1. Start with a strategic mission.
  2. Get C-level support.
  3. Structure and fund appropriately.
  4. Prepare for ongoing support.
  5. Establish authority and make tough choices. 
  6. Communicate goals and successes.
  7. Be responsive. 

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

With a clear roadmap in place and a BICC team active and fostering user adoption, you can then start to think about additional training for your users. Training reduces the likelihood of project failure, speeds up implementation and system adoption, and teaches users how to maximize the power of your BI tool.  

The sad truth is that training is often an afterthought for many organizations, when it should be at the forefront. Implementing a BI tool without sufficient training often results in additional cost and wasted time. 

Implementing a BI tool without sufficient training often results in additional cost and wasted time.
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Every training situation is different regarding the best delivery method, number of students, schedule, and location. That's why we provide multiple training options to accommodate any situation including standard training, customized training, online training, mentoring, and training help desk support. 

Choosing the right training program is important, so here are a few things to consider as you draft your training plan, including if you want tool specific training or general and strategic BI training.

These are typical ways we see clients using two types of our trainings:

Certified Tool Training (select members going to training)

  • Users are new to your company’s BI tool of choice (even if they are experienced with other BI tools)
  • Users with experience with BI Visualization tools, but self-trained, or trained by another developer on-the-job
  • Users are experienced with BI technologies, but trained long ago and have not been plugged into the BI tool’s Community or user groups

If an organization has a strong system in place to mentor people (part of the BICC), training would be a great option as only a few need to go through training and pass along best practices.

Mentoring or Custom Services Engagement (bringing in a consultant)

  • You need help setting up a BI Roadmap or BICC
  • Users are experienced with BI visualization tools but need help with specific topics, e.g. incremental load, adding security to an app, adding additional extensions
  • Your application or server architecture needs performance optimization
  • Not enough budget for full training 

Developing a ‘ninja culture’ is key—otherwise, you have people creating reports of no use and lots of wasted time and nothing to show for it.  As Mr. Miyagi said in The Karate Kid, "You trust the quality of what you know, not quantity." 

So, after seeing some of things that most organization overlook, can you step into the gap and be the one to develop a ‘Ninja Culture’ in your organization? 

With you taking charge and leading the shift to a ‘ninja culture,' you too can be ‘the best around’  

Taryn Medlin's photo
Account Executive
Taryn works with the team in the East Region out of the Raleigh office. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live music and discovering local bands, exploring new cities and eating ALL THE FOOD, and hanging out with her Jack Russell, Peaches.

 

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