Category Archives: WORK-CULTURE

3-D’s of Business Intelligence

A friend of mine aspiring to become a BI professional asked me what it takes to become a Business Intelligence professional?

Since the answer to the question is not a one liner I thought of answering it in a post as it will helps others.Before we get in detail let me define BI first,”Business Intelligence is the process of getting useful  and simpler analytics about business from its raw data sources“.

With that being said, it takes one to master 3-D’s (Data Building. Dashboards and Decision Making) to become a successful BI professional.

Data Building: Building your data from raw data sources is fundamental and crucial part of Business Intelligence. One should not use the data directly from real time systems for analytics – the reason is most of the time a company’s data systems are designed in the form of numerical values for easy computing and the numerical data doesn’t makes sense unless Attributes are added to it. Data building is like laying a foundation to your house, so extensive care and research should be taken at this step to avoid future costs.

Depending on the organization size your data building specs might change.Say If you’re a small company, I wouldn’t suggest you for a data warehousing and you can build one Master table from your Work orders or invoices and add multiple metrics to it.

Say If your company is dealing with lot of media files, I would advise you to have a non relational Hadoop kind of database like Azure.

Say if you’re running a massive Billing and Support Call center and  has to deal with tons of invoices and call volumes, a good approach is to have a datawarehouse  and track everything.You can have a combination of Type1 and Type2.

Key Tools and Technologies: SqlServer,Oracle,Teradata,Apache Hadoop,Azure

Dashboards: Once your data is built, the next step is to derive useful information from data in form of reports. By saying reports, I don’t mean long tabular ones- Why do I say that? Working with executives made me learn this trick,let me say it out for you. “Data doesn’t lie at detail and summary level“. You don’t need to have long detailed tabular reports to understand your business you can have them summarized by multiple metrics in a single dashboard. What if you don’t have one?try to combine as many reports as possible and summarize them. Dashboards allows us to view the business through different angles and gives deeper insights in a single view.

Key Tools and Technologies: Power BI, Tableau, SSRS, Business Objects and Excel

Decision Making: One may think a BI professional’s job concludes by creating dashboards. I wouldn’t agree with it, go ahead and analyse the dashboard and try making decisions yourself as if its your own company. This will embark a business mind in you, you may not become a business person overnight but with time it will increase your learning curve and establish yourself as valuable asset to your organization.

Would’t it be nice if you hand over a deck to your supervisor and say “I looked at it and our sales are dropping due to less price offers by our competitors”

Key Tools and Technologies: Your own Brain and curiosity.

Hope it helps:)

Back From Vacation Syndrome and SSMS Shortcuts

Was just back to United States from a long vacation and started to work. The first two days were filled with replying to all pending emails and settling up issues reported while I was away. Slowly was out of jet lag and my routine work life started. My client did gave me a new requirement to build a report. Came to my cubicle, opened SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and started building the query for it. With me being away from work for few weeks, I thought I might have forgotten the tables, databases and relationships which exists between different database objects.

To my surprise, I didn’t forget any and I painted the whole picture of the report from different tables in my mind when my client gave the requirement. While building the query I noticed something strange, I have been stumbling with keyboard shortcuts I use with SSMS and just took a breath and yelled at myself (How could I?). Shortcuts are cool feature with SSMS and I love using them. I know I should get into my notes and brush up my shortcuts.

This time I wanted to know why did I forget them and started googling about it. The one word answer is Brain Plasticity. The ability of our brain to be flexible and adapt with new changes is called Brain Plasticity and our brain survives by forgetting too. The article I read quoted human brain doesn’t need to forget intentionally and any changes in the outside environment has an effect on our brain and it will make us forget to store new events. Think of it in this way, If I were to think about SQL and databases at my vacation it might have gone terrible right?, luckily I wasn’t and my brain was on vacation mode and now am back to work it will slowly store my work and daily life related data and events and might forget vacation mode and it keeps working!!!Amazing is our brain!!!

I just called it as Back from Vacation Syndrome:)

Here are the shortcuts I brushed up from my notes and would like every SQL Developer to be aware of it and forget only when they are on vacation:P

Ctrl + U  - To Change database connection

Ctrl + F6 – Toggle between query windows

Ctrl + F5 – To parse the code

Ctrl + R – To Toggle Result Pane

Ctrl K + Ctrl C – To Comment the code

Ctrl K + Ctrl U – To Un Comment the code

F8 – To view Object Explorer

Shift + Alt + Enter – To view in Full Screen

Ctrl + Shift + U – Converts the selected code to Upper case

Ctrl  + Shift + D – Converts the selected code to Lower case

Ctrl + Shift + Home – Selects the code from current cursor location to the beginning of query

Ctrl + Shift + End – Select the code from current cursor location till the end

Share with me if you find some more shortcuts are essential.


Your development time is as important as others

I worked in an agile environment where our team gave updates to our Team Lead every day at 8:45 am. Ours was a team consisting of 8 developers and over the days our team encountered issues like “I have sent email to such and such person and he/she hasn’t responded to me yet which stalls my development time” as matter of fact this wait happened within our own team members and the other member response would be, I was busy working on other request. I would simply call this scenario as Delayed Resource Response where one team member awaits response from the other developer or analyst which stalls his own development time.

Our Team Lead was the one, who insisted to record all the business requests and clarifications either via email or a chat system which is an accepted practice to communicate with clients and our team but sooner does he realized it isn’t going to work all the time. To illustrate further, Consider Developer A sends an email to Developer B asking for a clarification and he gets a response after 2 hours where Developer B is his own team member who sits across five cubicles from Developer A. The wait time for Developer A was 2 hours. In a team consisting of eight members working on a project with lot of dependencies, let’s assume each developer experiences this wait at least once in a week, which adds to 16 hours of development time being wasted and monthly it will be a whopping 64 hours of development time. It became a recurring issue in our team and we did see it hindered our development.

What fascinated me was how my Lead handled the situation? My Lead did a 180 degree turn from his stance and in one standup meeting he informed us not to rely upon email for clarifications anymore and to step into the developer or analyst cubicle and address them the concern directly. I still remember his words,” Just go to the Developer’s desk and ask your questions, I take my words back! And remember your development time is as important as others” which was a polite way of saying one should give equal importance to others development time like his own.

The outcome of this change was phenomenal and increased the member to member communication and augmented our development without waiting for responses. To keep in note, this change was done only for clarification type emails and for business requests we continued to keep them in email. To summarize, Emails are best ways to communicate within an organization but not always effective and we should be dynamically ready to adapt any sort of communication within an organization to help us serve better.

Disclaimer: Please don’t try to step in to a Developer’s cubicle if they are located offshore:P