Finally, with many companies downsizing, make it a priority to invest in you. Fortunately, demand for business intelligence is strong, and several analyst firms are still predicting growth in deployments in 2009. But that's not to say that BI professionals won't become casualties of the weak economy. Thus, you don't want your BI skills to be outdated or too company-specific. Now is the time to ensure that your certifications are up to date. A number of vendors offer product-specific certifications. If you are a general BI practitioner, consider TDWI's certified business intelligence professional (CBIP) training to set yourself apart.
Many companies offer training as a benefit and as part of employee development programs. Far too often, though, overworked and overscheduled professionals fail to make time for training. Resolve to make time by, for example, attending at least one conference and training course a year. If your company has reduced travel and training budgets, look for local or regional opportunities. Kimball University, DAMA, and TDWI all offer regional courses.
Don't let a reduced training budget be an excuse, either. Many vendors offer regional conferences, road shows and user-group meetings for free or nominal fees. And if you're not attending at least one Web seminar a month, you're losing out on yet another economical opportunity to hone your skills. Arguably, some Webinars are marketing tools that may lack substance. But most provide solid educational content.
Finally, given the hectic pace of business, discretionary tasks like reading often fall by the wayside. Reading is a low-cost way to invest in you. Set aside time to scan industry articles or listen to podcasts. To help you stick to this resolution, block out one lunch hour a week for reading. In addition to magazines, online articles and white papers, make a list of books you'd like to read in 2009. If you can't afford to purchase all of these books, check with local libraries, which can often get technology books through inter-library loans.
Get a Fresh Start
If you are a resolution-believer like me, you know that step one is to make your resolutions a matter of record – whether on paper or an internal Web site. Sharing resolutions with colleagues increases the chance that you will stick to them. In that spirit, I welcome you to add your own BI resolutions in the comments area below. Take stock as the months unfold, and at the end of the year, let us know how well you stuck to your resolutions.
Happy New Year!