Needing a break from the taxing job of pulling together my personal New Year's resolutions, I started to think about ways in which analytics professionals could improve themselves for the year ahead. Here are a few quick ideas.
1. Do data for good. You have analytical smarts to share, so undertake one project in 2014 that will help make a difference to the world around you. Think small and personal -- volunteering to develop a spreadsheet program for your child's school, creating a database for the pet shelter you like, or helping a local club analyze its social media activity. Or, think more formalized and of broader scope, perhaps by checking out the project opportunities at organizations like DataKind or helping out with next year's Hour of Code. Perhaps you'll find inspiration in these posts: Needed for Social Good: Bright Data Minds, DataKind's Jake Porway: Inspired by Data Volunteers, and Data Scientists Do Good for Charitable Groups.
2. Liven up your data presentations. Static reports are out, dynamic data visualizations are in. As appropriate, do your best to present data visually. Better yet, give business users the opportunity to interact with the data visualizations you create. Being able to add in or take out variables, for example, will help them see, in an instant, what might happen in any what-if scenario they can imagine. You need to be an advocate for putting this type of power in decision makers' hands. Get guidance in these posts: Data Visualization Dos & Don'ts, 5 Tips to Help SMBs Get Visual With Data, and 4 Quick Tips for Data Visualization Newbies.
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