Chapter 16. Reporting, Business Intelligence, and Dashboards

DATA ANALYSIS DOES NOT JUST CONSIST OF CRUNCHING NUMBERS. IT ALSO INCLUDES NAVIGATING THE CONTEXT and environment in which the need for data analysis arises. In this chapter and the next, we will look at two areas that often have a demand for data analysis and analytical modeling but that tend to be unfamiliar if you come from a technical background: in this chapter, we discuss business intelligence and corporate metrics; in the next chapter, financial calculations and business plans.

This material may seem a little out of place because it is largely not technical. But that is precisely why it is important to include this topic here: to a person with a technical background, this material is often totally new. Yet it is precisely in these areas that sound technical and analytical advice is often required: the primary consumers of these services are “business people,” who may not have the necessary background and skills to make appropriate decisions without help. This places additional responsibility on the person working with the data to understand the problem domain thoroughly, in order to make suitable recommendations.

This is no joke. I have seen otherwise very smart people at high-quality companies completely botch business metrics programs simply because they lacked basic software engineering and math skills. As the person who (supposedly!) “understands data,” I see it as part of my responsibility to understand what ...

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