Two analysts’ stories

July 21, 2009
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Yesterday I asked business analysts at the Tableau conference in Seattle about their work. Here are two quick sketches.

• One of the two arrived at her present employer six years ago to do the company’s first analysis of its website sales. She used several years of accumulated data to show which content was making money and which wasn’t. When she had organized the job into a routine, she handed it off to someone else and moved to the next question: What parts of the marketing was working? Again, she worked it into a routine and gave the task away. Next: what were visitors doing on the site? And now she has begun to answer similar questions for the company’s new site.

Not long ago, she was put into the IT group, among a bunch of guys coding in Java and doing other work she knows little about. She flashes a grimace at the mention.

She worries about her career. “How would I market this?” she asks.

• Another analyst was practically a librarian 15 years ago. People from other departments told him what reports they wanted — for example, SEC filings — and he delivered. Then some people asked for summaries, which made him think about other ways he could add value.

At some point,

Yesterday I asked business analysts at the Tableau conference in Seattle about their work. Here are two quick sketches.

• One of the two arrived at her present employer six years ago to do the company’s first analysis of its website sales. She used several years of accumulated data to show which content was making money and which wasn’t. When she had organized the job into a routine, she handed it off to someone else and moved to the next question: What parts of the marketing was working? Again, she worked it into a routine and gave the task away. Next: what were visitors doing on the site? And now she has begun to answer similar questions for the company’s new site.

Not long ago, she was put into the IT group, among a bunch of guys coding in Java and doing other work she knows little about. She flashes a grimace at the mention.

She worries about her career. “How would I market this?” she asks.

• Another analyst was practically a librarian 15 years ago. People from other departments told him what reports they wanted — for example, SEC filings — and he delivered. Then some people asked for summaries, which made him think about other ways he could add value.

At some point, the value-adding incorporated data analysis, which grew. For years, he was the only analyst, but now he manages four others.

He’s the bridge between the data-generating IT department and the data-craving marketing department. He seems unconcerned about his career.

Complete versions may come next week.


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