While doing a college hiring event , one bright student came up with this interesting question , he was first curious to know about BI (less than 1% engineering colleges teach BI in India as of now) and when I could somehow explained him what BI is, he got rather confused as to what he could do to become a successful BI professional. I was not surprised and could relate to his question because I know that the education system in India still follows once in a 10 year syllabus appraisal system and students still think that computer industry means C, C++, Java and .Net (in some colleges, in fact they still teach COBOL :-( ) So ultimately they fall in love with these languages and feel disheartened if somebody asks them to work on something new. This is specially true for BI as other IT work would have some amount of language programming (e.g. in Mobile/Web development etc.) but BI is mostly playing with software tools at junior level.

We will discuss about how to bring awareness in college students about Information Management Industry in a later post, for the time being we will discuss on what are the fundamental skills, knowledge and tools which bring out best in a BI professional.

I tried to keep this post short and did not elaborate on a particular role, left this to you, the readers, to discuss and maybe refine this together as we go along.

I believe that building up of knowledge, skill and attitude is a gradual process and we can not really measure all human being on a static scale, for that matter I would like to divide BI professionals in few major categories and try to figure out what they do

1. Freshers:

Anybody new to BI industry first need to understand what it is and then start working on coding assignments. Coding assignments on BI are typically working on few ready made tools and in some cases writing lengthy SQL code and testing

I would classify skill and knowledge in two categories, one technical and others soft skills.

Technical Skill:

    • Basic knowledge of Database concepts
    • Good knowledge of SQL
    • Good knowledge of BI concepts
    • Basic knowledge on BI/ETL/Analytics tools
  • soft skill:

    • Enjoy learning tools and new technologies
    • positive attitude
    • love for data, calculations and reports
  • 2. Junior Engineers:

    Junior engineers get some experience in the system and are expected to write test cases, write complex code on SQL and BI tools, review the work done by juniors, become expert on a small part of a tool (e.g. mastering on web reports of a BI suite), help in writing detailed specifications for a BI design.

    Technical Skill:

    • Good knowledge of Database concepts
    • Good knowledge of SQL
    • Good knowledge of BI concepts
    • Intermediate knowledge on BI/ETL/Analytics tools
    • Basic understanding of design/architecture
    • Good knowledge on testing and verification methods
    • Basic understanding of functional domain
  • soft skill:

    • Dedication towards BI technologies and tools
    • Adaptability
    • Analytical ability to crack the data puzzles
    • Communication skill
    • Mentor ship

  • 3. Senior Engineers

    The other side of the coin is that even companies who operate in these domains do not upgrade their employees on these skills. Why ? They have the best intentions which they mandate, but they do not have the money, time and manpower to do so.

    Technical skill:

    • Good on Database Concepts
    • Expert of SQL coding
    • Good knowledge of BI concepts
    • Expert knowledge on BI/ETL/Analytics tools
    • Good understanding of design/architecture
    • Expert knowledge on Testing and verification methods
    • Good understanding of functional Domain
    • Experience on creating BI/DWH Design

  • soft skill:

    • Analytical ability to understand the “big picture” and devise solutions
    • Inquisitive mind
    • Flexibility
    • Great Communication skill
    • Leadership qualities

  • 4. Leads

    Lead is really at the core of technological/functional aspects of BI solution, he has to master architecture , design and end to end delivery of a BI solution.

    Technical skill:

    • Expert on Database Concepts
    • Expert on SQL coding
    • Expert knowledge of BI concepts
    • Expert knowledge on BI/ETL/Analytics tools
    • Expert understanding of design/architecture
    • Good understanding of functional Domain
    • Expert knowledge on creating BI/DWH Architecture/Design
    • Good experience on working with Business Analytics to define the "Problem" area.
    • Good experience on working with Architect to define the "Solution" area.

    soft skill:

    • Excellent communication skills
    • Leadership Qualities
    • Ability to handle pressure
    • Disciplined and able to work on a fixed timeline
    • Good in planning and tracking

  • 5. Manager:

    Managers has to obviously manage a complete BI/DWH project but there could be different variant of this role based on company’s structure and work style. Manager could sometime be “Technical” and sometime they could be doing “People Management” role and in most of the cases they would be doing “both”

    Technical skill:

    • Expert in project management and planning
    • Expert in stakeholder management
    • Good in understanding the BI requirement and figure out the required resources in early game
    • Good knowledge of functional domain
    • Expert understanding of overall architecture
    • Good knowledge of production systems
    • Good understanding of Quality and Support processes

  • soft skill:

    • Good in "selling" the team's capability
    • Good rapport with all the upstream(interfacing) and able to convince them to provide the required information
    • Good in working as a liaison between project team and end users of BI
    • Excellent communication skill
    • Good people management skills
  • 6. Architect:

    Architect works as a magician, the person who knows everything about the system and can create a beautiful solution which would seems coming from heaven :-) Well in reality it is not a magic but the outcome of hundred days of hard work to understand and design a bulletproof system.

    Technical skill:

    • Expert/master of BI/DWH Architecture
    • Good knowledge of source systems and downstream systems
    • Expert on BI/DWH concepts. Should know various Architectural options and which one would be the best for the current requirement
    • Expert in Database concepts, can create logical data models
    • Good functional domain knowledge
    • Should have considerable experience in the BI/DWH environment and can create reusable components for development and production processes
    • Should be able to create a roadmap for BI

  • soft skill:

    • Excellent communication skill
    • Out of the box thinking capability
    • Logical and Analytical mind
    • Should be work with developers, testers, Business Analysts, end users and Management
    • Consistency in ideas and design approaches

  • I did not cover other important roles like Support engineers, Data Modeller, Business Analyst, End users, Sponsor and Business Development Managers etc. Those are for later posts.