Earlier this month I wrote about an approach to training business intelligence specialists used by Information Control Corp., a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of IT services, including software development, technology infrastructure, business intelligence and project services. I found much to like in the company's approach, not the least of which is its commitment to keeping jobs in the local community.
ICC's training program incorporates a series of intensive learning sessions, a course of self-study and placing trainees on project teams composed of a senior architect/developer, senior quality assurance analyst and three junior developers. The team structure is "very portable across various disciplines," ICC's manager of BI Partner Channels told me, so ICC can form teams around data integration, ETL (extract, transform, load), the analytics layer or other desired skill sets. The composition also allows ICC to offer a blended team rate and bring its pricing models in line with those of offshore competitors providing similar BI services.
What's not to like? And today, reading an excerpt from "Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results," it occurs to me that ICC's approach would be just as relevant for employees with some experience under their belts.
The excerpt, which appears on CIO Insight and covers providing internal training so employees can keep up with rapid shifts in business analytics technologies, mentions that Procter & Gamble's central product supply analytics group offers a course called Analytics with Spreadsheets to help front-line workers get more value out of their preferred analytics tool. And trucking firm Schneider National's central analytics group offers an Introduction to Data Analysis and Statistical Process Control in Services.
These types of courses could help identify employees who show a natural predilection toward BI. This kind of training would probably also help employees make better use of data mashups and other tools that can make BI accessible to more users.
Another idea mentioned in the excerpt is rotating assignments so experienced analysts can keep their skills sharp in a variety of areas and bring new insights to their usual work. This sounds quite similar to what ICC does with its entry-level folks, moving them from team to team to help them gain new skills. GE Money does this through a formal job rotation program, according to the excerpt.
For companies trying to identify business users who might want to make the leap into more advanced BI, I'd suggest using ICC's advice. Look for SQL skills, as they provide a solid foundation for different areas of BI, including analytics.