data analyst


I recently participated in a business analytics project for non-profits that, as the planning progressed, seemed like a perfect opportunity to implement an agile approach, except that the work was to be completed in two days! But all the developers would be co-located. We had three objectives that fit the profile of user stories. We would cleanse, analyze, and report on the data and, hopefully, discover some insights. We would have the business stakeholders in the room with us the whole time. But doing all this in two days seemed like agile on steroids to me. And it reminded me of an old Stephen Wright joke, “I put instant coffee in the microwave and almost went back in time!”

So, if you put agile on steroids, can you go back in time? Well, maybe not, but we did accomplish a lot in those two days! The project was a DataDive, a collaboration between the non-profit, DataKind, and Teradata, that was held the two days before the Teradata Partners 2014 conference.

Blog data dive teamsI was a Data Ambassador paired with another Data Ambassador to work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) to prepare for the DataDive and make sure we reached our goals. The NGO that DataKind assigned us to was iCouldBe, an organization that provides on-line mentoring to at-risk kids at over 250 schools in the U.S. Since I am not a data scientist or analyst, I found my role as gathering requirements from the business stakeholders at iCouldBe. I worked with them to prioritize the requirements and identify the expected business value. Sounds like the product owner role in “Scrum” -- right? My partner Data Ambassador worked with the head of IT at iCouldBe to identify the data we needed and worked to prepare it for the data dive. This is similar to a Scrum project, where preparatory work must be completed to be ready for the first sprint.

DataKind wanted us to identify the tasks to accomplish each user story, so I immediately thought about using a task board for the actual DataDive. I created one ahead of time in Excel that identified the tasks for each user story as well as the development and handoff phases for each story. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was creating a Kanban board (a portion of the board is shown in the picture) that allowed us to track workflow.

Blog - Data dive KanbanOnce I got to the DataDive, I recreated the Kanban board using flip chart paper and used sticky notes for the tasks, much the way it might be done for a real project. The user stories were listed in priority order from top to bottom. The tasks represented the metrics, dimensions, text and other analysis required to address the user stories. Some tasks supported multiple user stories, so we noted those and used that “re-use” to help prioritize. We placed these reusable tasks at the top of the board in the swimlane with the highest priority user story. (Click on the figure at left to enlarge - DataDive Kanban Board - Partial Workflow)


For example, the number of posts and words per post that mentors and mentees made in the online mentoring program was an important metric that iCouldBe wanted to calculate to help identify successful mentee completion of the program. Are mentees that write more posts and words per post more likely to complete the program? This question addresses the first user story. But number of posts and words per post can also be used to analyze the amount of engagement between mentors and their mentees and what areas of the curriculum need to be improved.

As the volunteers arrived, they chose tasks, focusing on the high priority tasks first, wrote their name on the sticky notes, and moved the note to the first development column, which was to review the available data.

blog data dive - whiteboardAt different times during the day, DataKind asked each team to review what they had done so far, and what they planned on doing next, similar to the daily standup in Scrum (and we actually did stand).

As the DataDive progressed to day two, only tasks for user stories 1 and 2 progressed across the board, but I reminded the team that some of the tasks we completed for the first two user stories also helped address the third user story. At the end of the DataDive, to better visually show this, I moved some of the sticky notes from user story 1 into the user story 3 swimlane. This way, we could show the business stakeholders from iCouldBe that, although we focused on the higher priority user stories 1 and 2, we had also partially addressed user story 3.

Although this project did not check all the boxes in being a standard agile implementation, it served as a great opportunity for me to put some agile practices in motion in a real project and learn from it. One of the most important aspects was the close collaboration between the developers and stakeholders. It was great to see how thrilled the stakeholders were with the work we had accomplished in just two days!

While I wish I could go back in time and do the DataDive all over again, as it was a great personal experience for me, instead I’ll look to the future and apply what I’ve learned from this project to my next agile project.

Blog ElissaElisia Getts is a Sr. Product Manager, Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and member of the Teradata Agile COE. She has been with Teradata for 15 years and has over 25 years of experience in IT as a product manager, business/IT consultant, programmer/analyst, and technical writer supporting industries such as travel and hospitality, transportation and logistics, and defense. She is the team’s expert on Scrum.


High Level Data Analytics Graph
(Healthcare Example)

 <---- Click on image to view GRAPH ANIMATION

Michael Porter, in an excellent article in the November 2014 issue of the Harvard Business Review[1], points out that smart connected products are broadening competitive boundaries to encompass related products that meet a broader underlying need. Porter elaborates that the boundary shift is not only from the functionality of discrete products to cross-functionality of product systems, but in many cases expanding to a system of systems such as a smart home or smart city.

So what does all this mean from a data perspective? In that same article, Porter mentions that companies seeking leadership need to invest in capturing, coordinating, and analyzing more extensive data across multiple products and systems (including external information). The key take-away is that the movement of gaining competitive advantage by searching for cross-functional or cross-system insights from data is only going to accelerate and not slow down. Exploiting cross-functional or cross-system centrality of data better than anyone else will continue to remain critical to achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.

Understandably, as technology changes, the mechanisms and architecture used to exploit this cross-system centrality of data will evolve. Current technology trends point to a need for a data & analytic-centric approach that leverages the right tool for the right job and orchestrates these technologies to mask complexity for the end users; while also managing complexity for IT in a hybrid environment. (See this article published in Teradata Magazine.)

As businesses embrace the data & analytic-centric approach, the following types of questions will need to be addressed: How can business and IT decide on when to combine which data and to what degree? What should be the degree of data integration (tight, loose, non-coupled)? Where should the data reside and what is the best data modeling approach (full, partial, need based)? What type of analytics should be applied on what data?

Of course, to properly address these questions, an architecture assessment is called for. But for the sake of going beyond the obvious, one exploratory data point in addressing such questions could be to measure and analyze the cross-functional/cross-system centrality of data.

By treating data and analytics as a network of interconnected nodes in Gephi[2], the connectedness between data and analytics can be measured and visualized for such exploration. We can examine a statistical metric called Degree Centrality[3] which is calculated based on how well an analytic node is connected.

The high level sample data analytics graph demonstrates the cross-functional Degree Centrality of analytics from an Industry specific perspective (Healthcare). It also amplifies, from an industry perspective, the need for organizations to build an analytical ecosystem that can easily harness this cross-functional Degree Centrality of data analytics. (Learn more about Teradata’s Unified Data Architecture.)

In the second part of this blog post series we will walk through a zoomed-in view of the graph, analyze the Degree Centrality measurements for sample analytics, and draw some high-level data architecture implications.


[2] Gephi is a tool to explore and understand graphs. It is a complementary tool to traditional statistics.

[3] Degree centrality is defined as the number of links incident upon a node (i.e., the number of ties that a node has).

Ojustwin blog bio

Ojustwin Naik (MBA, JD) is a Director with 15 years of experience in planning, development, and delivery of Analytics. He has experience across multiple industries and is passionate at nurturing a culture of innovation based on clarity, context, and collaboration.

Big Apple Hosts the Final Big Analytics Roadshow of the Year

Posted on: November 26th, 2013 by Teradata Aster No Comments


Speaking of ending things on a high note, New York City on December 6th will play host to the final event in the Big Analytics 2013 Roadshow series. Big Analytics 2013 New York is taking place at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in the heart of Midtown on bustling 7th Avenue.

As we reflect on the illustrious journey of the Big Analytics 2013 Roadshow, kicking off in San Francisco, this year the Roadshow traveled through major international destinations including Atlanta, Dallas, Beijing, Tokyo, London and finally culminating at the Big Apple – it truly capsulated the appetite today for collecting, processing, understanding and analyzing data.

Big Analytics Atlanta 2013 photo

Big Analytics Roadshow 2013 stops in Atlanta

Drawing business & technical audiences across the globe, the roadshow afforded the attendees an opportunity to learn more about the convergence of technologies and methods like data science, digital marketing, data warehousing, Hadoop, and discovery platforms. Going beyond the “big data” hype, the event offered learning opportunities on how technologies and ideas combine to drive real business innovation. Our unyielding focus on results from data is truly what made the events so successful.

Continuing on with the rich lineage of delivering quality Big Data information, the New York event promises to pack tremendous amount of Big Data learning & education. The keynotes for the event include such industry luminaries as Dan Vesset, Program VP of Business Analytics at IDC, Tasso Argyros, Senior VP of Big Data at Teradata & Peter Lee, Senior VP of Tibco Software.

Photo of the Teradata Aster team in Dallas

Teradata team at the Dallas Big Analytics Roadshow

The keynotes will be followed by three tracks around Big Data Architecture, Data Science & Discovery & Data Driven Marketing. Each of these tracks will feature industry luminaries like Richard Winter of WinterCorp, John O’Brien of Radiant Advisors & John Lovett of Web Analytics Demystified. They will be joined by vendor presentations from Shaun Connolly of Hortonworks, Todd Talkington of Tableau & Brian Dirking of Alteryx.

As with every Big Analytics event, it presents an exciting opportunity to hear first hand from leading organizations like Comcast, Gilt Groupe & Meredith Corporation on how they are using Big Data Analytics & Discovery to deliver tremendous business value.

In summary, the event promises to be nothing less than the Oscars of Big Data and will bring together the who’s who of the Big Data industry. So, mark your calendars, pack your bags and get ready to attend the biggest Big Data event of the year.

Santa Claus and Data Scientists

Posted on: December 3rd, 2012 by Teradata Aster No Comments


Who do you believe in more – Santa Claus or Data Scientists? That’s the debate we’re having in New York City on Dec 12th at Big Analytics 2012. Due to the sold-out event this panel discussion will be simulcast live to dig a little deeper behind the hype.

Some believe that data scientists are a new breed of analytic professional that mergers mathematics, statistics, programming, visualization, and systems operations (and perhaps a little quantum mechanics and string theory for good measure) all in one. Others say that Data Scientists are simply data analysts who live in California.

Whatever you believe, the skills gap for “data scientists” and analytic professionals is real and not expected to close until 2018. Businesses see the light in terms of data-driven competitive advantage, but are they willing to fork out $300,000/yr for a person that can do data science magic? That’s what CIO Journal is reporting with the guidance that “CIOs need to make sure that they are hiring for these positions to solve legitimate business problems, and not just because everyone else is doing it too”.

Universities like Northwestern University have built programs and degrees in analytics to help close the gap. Technology vendors are bridging the gap to make new analytic techniques on big data tenable to a broader set of analysts in mainstream organizations. But is data science really new? What are businesses doing to unlock and monetize new insights? What skills do you need to be a “data scientist”? How can you close the gap? What should you be paying attention to?

Mike Gualtieri from Forrester Research will be moderating a panel to answer these questions and more with:

  • Geoff Guerdat, Director of Data Architecture, Gilt Groupe
  • Bill Franks, Chief Analytics Officer, Teradata
  • Bernard Blais, SAS
  • Jim Walker, Director of Product Marketing, Hortonworks


Join the discussion at 3:30 EST on Dec 12th where you can ask questions and follow the discussion thread on Twitter with #BARS12, or follow along on TweetChat at:

... it certainly beats sitting up all night with milk and cookies looking out for Santa!