Puntarenas, Costa Rica – February 3rd, 2011
Exactly one week after being in a major snow storm in Philadelphia, I find myself boarding a ferry in Puntarenas, Costa Rica in 97 degree heat. I am on my way to visit my brother who currently is in the middle of the jungle in the Nicoya Peninsula.
I see a man wearing over 20 hats on his head that he is trying to sell. I think to myself that this is quite a good way to advertise yourself because he looks ridiculous and people cannot help but stop and look at him. Of course, I did look and he immediately saw the moment of hesitation in my eyes and pounced. I had to buy one, it was only $6 – what a bargain!
It also made me think about the multiple hats that many of us have to wear working in the field of business intelligence which includes so many facets including data warehouse design and creation, ETL (Extraction, Transformation and Load), data quality, universe views, reports and dashboards. While larger corporations and entities may have different people assigned to the individual tasks, most organizations will expect business intelligence personnel to do many or sometimes all of these tasks. Some actually have experience that allows them to take on all of the responsibilities but they often end up like the man in Costa Rica, wearing all those hats and looking somewhat strange as they try to do it all.
There are definitely advantages in specializing in the different disciplines, not least of which is that you will need dedicated expertise in them that covers both the business and the technical side of the area. To be a truly effective business intelligence report designer and developer for the finance department, you need to understand finance processes for finance, the finance data and the business intelligence tools.
As business intelligence becomes more and more significant in every organization, it might be worth thinking about getting more people to wear those different BI hats.