You don’t want to be overwhelmed by the more than 41 million results you get google searching “business intelligence software.” It’s unpleasant.
I’ve searched the internet for the best BI resources, blogs and websites so you can avoid being overwhelmed, or underwhelmed, and just be whelmed.
Gartner’s popular “Summits” conference series also includes a BI/analytics conference. Holding a BI conference is hardly surprising, given that Gartner publishes the Magic Quadrant for business intelligence (paywall protected, but completely worth it), one of the most important pieces of research in the BI universe. Their annual conference is equally valuable, organizing such cutting-edge subjects as advanced analytics, bi-modal BI, data lakes and the role of the modern CIO into tracks like “Lead with Analytics,” “Control the Core,” and “Evangelize the New.” Gartner’s understanding of the market, combined with their talent for organizing and communicating data, makes attendance a worthwhile investment. Just ask the 2,000+ who attended last year’s.
Next conference March 6-8, 2017, in Grapevine, TX. Conference registration runs from $2,750 for public-sector employees, to $3,150. Early bird pricing is $2,950.
Corporate research firm Innovation Enterprise also hosts a yearly BI conference. This year’s speakers are an impressive group, with BI VP’s and execs from Machinima, Comcast, Pepsico, Philips Healthcare, and Just Energy. The 2016 conference will focus on several up-and-coming trends, like self-service analytics, machine learning and AI, and the approaching obsolescence of traditional BI platforms. Innovation summit is a particularly good networking bet for senior-level BI professionals: 54% of the attendees are Senior Directors or Directors.
This year’s conference is in Chicago, November 29-30. Registration options run from a $795 one day pass, to an all access pass that costs $2,395. There’s also a $600 On Demand Pass option that only includes access to presentation recordings, slide decks, and the ability to contact presenters.
If you want to network with other BI professionals, and like the potential of doing it on Splash Mountain, then this is the conference for you. From August 31st to September 1st, the Contemporary Resort in Disney World is putting their own spin on a data and analytics conference, with speakers like Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank and Jeffrey Ma, one of the inspirations of the film 21. Other speakers will represent successful brands like GoDaddy, Matrixx, and the Orlando Magic. Disney will also have a few of their own Disney Resorts data professionals on hand. If nothing else, the chance to see how data keeps the most magical place on earth magical is worth a look. Registration is $2,295 a person, with groups of three or more starting at $1,895 a head.
This year’s Indy Big Data, held on September 1st, focuses on “The Tipping Point” — from old ways of thinking to data-driven business practices. The conference features 19 speakers, from companies and projects as diverse as Google Cloud, Lilly, the state of Indiana, and IBM Watson Health. Indy Big Data will also provide a showcase for competitors in the Big Data Visualization Challenge, where participants had to find a way to “to visualize trends in cancer, such as side effects, medications, etc.,” based on 500,000 tweets. So long as I’m on visualization, the conference’s agenda is one of the cleanest and most attractive visualizations I’ve seen on any BI conference website.
Registration is $300 for individuals, with a $17.49 fee, and $250 per person for groups. If you’re a college student, Big Data offers a student rate, but you’ll need to email email@example.com for the registration code.
If you’re willing to cross the pond (or you’re already able to get to London), the 2016 Enterprise Data and BI Conference offers truly international networking. Last year’s conference boasted attendees from 28 countries. The list of subjects covered is similarly extensive, and Enterprise Data will have panels and workshops on everything from agile BI, to the role of big data in professional sports, to the intriguingly titled “Turning the Telescope – Humans as Data Systems.”
The Enterprise Conference splits its workshops into introductory or advanced workshops, so you’ll get some use out of this, no matter where you are in your career.
The conference takes place from November 7-10 at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel in London, England. Registration costs run from 954 pounds for one day, to 2,334 for the full four days.
There are plenty of LinkedIn Groups that are either ghost towns (>100 members, few articles posted) or talk shows (glorified excuses for people to plug their products or sites). This group is a delightful exception. The members post useful and interesting articles, like a Wired video that shows how frighteningly easy IoT hacks are, or a link to a Harvard Business Review piece on the frequent failures of analytics adoptions.
One way to determine a good LinkedIn group is the frequency of posts. Updates to this group are frequent (13 posts in the last 24 hours as of my writing, 9 the day before that). There’s enough solid information, despite people plugging their products, to make this group worth your consideration. There’s also a good chance that a question you post will get a helpful response; you could call this group a mini-Quora.
PBIRG is a nonprofit group that focuses on analytics and data as applied to the healthcare industry. They’re a nonprofit group that promotes and communicates business intelligence’s value to pharmaceutical manufacturers. They also offer education, support and professional development opportunities.
DAMAI, another nonprofit association, offers networking, education, and the opportunity to collaborate with other data and analytics professionals across borders. They also publish two impressive resources, the DAMA Dictionary, and the DAMA Data Management Body of Knowledge (DMBoK), the latter of which brings together a list of principles and best practices drawn from members worldwide. Membership is $50.
The Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences is another international networking group for analytics professionals. The largest such organization on earth, INFORMS covers the usual bases of a professional organization like networking, continuing education, and analytics advocacy. They also publish an impressive 14 scholarly journals related to the field.
If you use Microsoft’s SQL Server, you’ll want to look into PASS. Though founded by Microsoft, they’re now community-run, so the group’s primary interest is networking rather than sales. PASS offers resources, networking, and conferences to data professionals, and membership is free. They also have virtual chapters based on interests rather than locations. The virtual chapters hold monthly virtual meetings that cover cutting-edge topics. For example, the Business Intelligence chapter’s most recent meeting was on incorporating the R programming language into Microsoft’s SQL server. The BI chapter also has a Youtube account with some past presentations available.
If you only read one business intelligence publication this year, you need to read more business intelligence publications this year. But definitely make Solutions Review one of those. They provide thorough coverage of the BI marketplace, keeping up with such stories as Tableau’s rollout of their new BI software, and Workday’s acquisition of Platfora. They’re also a good starting place for other information, like a list of the current most popular business intelligence books.
KM World magazine covers all things “ knowledge management, content management, and document management.” Business Intelligence falls underneath that rubric, and they keep up a regular stream of articles on the topic. The count for BI-related articles is down in August, but their past record (12 in July, 13 in June, 9 in May, 13 in April) shows pretty impressive coverage for a publication not dedicated to BI.
Business Intelligence Blogs/Online Publications
BizTech Magazine, a general technology publication, publishes a range of pieces on business intelligence and business analytics. Their website design and organization is a one of their best features. While some articles are organized by traditional categories, they also have sections like Tips & Tactics and C-Suite, which group posts by the action-ability, rather than subject.
This might be unfair, but I judge blog posts, and blogs, based on the first paragraphs of the first post I read. It took four paragraphs of Joe Stangarone’s post to make me like him, and Smart Data Collective by association. Smart Data Collective’s blog approaches business intelligence with a wide-angle lens, both in terms of topics and contributors.
I’m listing Information Management’s BI blog here, but their entire Big Data section covers content relevant to BI. As for that BI blog, original content requires you to sign up for a free account to read, but the overall view of the analytics field you’ll get makes it worthwhile. IM also has free content pulled from other news services. They also provide web seminars in the analytics field, and keep an archive of past ones. Seminar downloads do require you to enter the usual information (job title, company size), but the topics make it worth your while.
ZD Net’s section on Big Data makes you reach for an adverb. Is it updated with ridiculous frequency? Frightening frequency? Amazing frequency? Whatever you choose, you should check it with the same frequency. Their content is primarily news updates, covering new products, corporate moves and acquisitions, and the intersection of BI and high-profile news stories like the Olympics.
When I searched the home page of Dataconomy writing this article, I was struck by how far-ranging it was. They had posts that could help a data science newbie, a data science veteran, and a bottom-line oriented business leader. Dig deeper down their blog’s data-related offerings, and you’ll find the same variety. As a heads-up, they are more focused on the broad picture of data than just BI. Still, Dataconomy’s worth a look.
Analytics is a put out by INFORMS (see above). Analytics’ comprehensive news coverage benefits industry insiders, and its accessible, personal style benefits newbies to BI (like myself). I have yet to find another publication that covers both industry trends like forecasting software, and quirky general interest stories like rating Sith lord effectiveness with data envelopment analysis.
Free Online Courses
Taught by Ilkay Altintas and Amarnath Gupta, two directors at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Intro to Big Data is designed for complete newbies. It’s the first of a six-course program in the Big Data Specialization, and will teach you the basics you’ll need to get started in big data. The course is free to audit, but access to graded materials, and the chance to earn a certificate, costs $59. The entire Big Data Specialization costs $453. Enrollment ends August 27th, so this is one to get on quickly.
This Duke University intro class, first of a broader series of business analytics courses, will ground you in the necessities of understanding BI and business analytics. Taught by Daniel Egger and Jana Schaich Borg, the course focuses on both teaching you how to use business analytics, from Excel to SQL, and illustrating analytics successes, like Amazon’s groundbreaking use of data. Auditing is free, but, again, taking part in graded assignments will cost you ($79 per course, in this case, or $355 for the full suite of five courses).
If you read the following slide decks in order, they’ll tell you the basics about business intelligence, flesh them out, and give you a heads-up of what to expect when you leave the virtual classroom and start exploring the real world of BI.
This little gem, originally an M.I.S. presentation by Anik Faisal, will give you the 5 W’s of business intelligence. Better yet, it’ll do it in an easily understood, visually appealing fashion, which is what BI is all about. Slides 8 and 9, particularly, are one of the best visualizations of what BI visualizations can do (how meta…).
Ready to fill out that knowledge? Click the above title, and come back to it once you’re done reading here. Kennesaw State University professor Jack Zheng’s concise, content-rich introduction to BI may be the best free comprehensive intro I’ve seen online. You’re basically getting the first-day lecture from one of his college courses. If you were to break the course’s cost down by classes, you’d probably be getting about $1-200 dollars’ worth of information, just by clicking above.
Since this deck’s designed by Tableau, it does end in a sales pitch. Still, the trends they’ve analyzed are relevant ones you’ll encounter reading around about BI, like data governance and self-service analytics. This is a good, five-minute-or-less intro to the chatter you can expect to see as you wade into the endless information about business information.
Help me whelm the world
If I’ve missed any events or resources, please let me know in the comments section below. Or, if you’ve used one of the above resources and want to give a shout out, feel free to do so!
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