From QA to Business Intelligence: how I fell in love with data
By Vanessa Ramos, Business Intelligence Project Manager @ Xpand IT
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love what I do at my job. However, that was not always the case.
When I started my career fresh out of college, I didn’t really know which IT field I wanted to specialize in, and I stumbled upon a software quality assurance job almost by chance. Even if learning how to break software and scare developers was fun for a while, I couldn’t help but think that was not accomplishing me and I didn’t see a plan for myself.
And don’t get me wrong — especially after working as a tester for some time, I truly believe software quality is of the most importance. It has its challenges and rewards. The time I spent as a tester taught me valuable lessons that come in handy nowadays, making me a better professional. However, it was just not suited for me. Deep down, I knew I didn’t want to test a product made by someone else. I wanted to be in the driver seat and develop something myself! So, I decided to take a leap, change paths and pursue another career in IT.
My journey from quality assurance to business intelligence was pretty straightforward. I have always been interested in analytics, but I believed my limited academic knowledge on the subject would be an obstacle to get a job in this domain. I could not be more wrong!
Good testers are data-driven; they know how to explore software thoroughly; they have excellent database skills to “dig in” the data to uncover a problem. Plus, they need to understand the business inside and out. All these skills proved to be an asset during this transition.
It has been nearly five years since I took charge of my career and changed paths, so, to explain to you how I fell in love with data and business intelligence and why I think becoming a Business Intelligence developer was the right job for me, here it is a list of 5 reasons.
1 – You will never get bored
As a business intelligence developer, I work on end-to-end solutions. This means that I can analyze and design data warehouse solutions, build ETL processes and create reports and dashboards for the customers. I can work closer to the business and with several technologies and tools along different stages of the process.
2 – Stop guessing and argue on facts
Data never lies. It provides objective answers to business questions, and it can “put an end to an argument.” You can help businesses to get to know their products, their customers, the market and make safer informed decisions based on facts instead of deciding on gut feelings.
3 – Help others making sense of data
Data is everywhere. From the sales orders placed in a business to the marketing leads acquired, from the social media impact to the support tickets open, this list goes on and on. Still, most decision-makers in a company don’t have direct access to relevant information to make critical business decisions when they have to. Usually, they rely on asking someone else for the information and often lose momentum. Helping businesses to implement modern self-service BI solutions and empowering everyone to answer questions can be exciting and will naturally satisfy curious minds.
4 – Optimize business operations
One of the most rewarding aspects of this job is seeing the pure joy on customers’ faces when they witness their daily business operations’ repetitive tasks being automated, reducing errors and saving time to focus on other duties. For instance, I lost track of how many companies I consulted that were still using Excel for reporting. Every single month they had someone producing the same reports: fill information manually, clean data, produce PowerPoint dashboards and mail it to the same set of users. Showing business users how to automate and optimize this process can make them look at you like you are performing some kind of magic trick.
5 – Discovering new business insights
Visually exploring and navigating data using self-service analytics tools will allow you to unlock the data potential of a business. You can uncover relevant information, new business patterns and trends that were previously hidden. It’s all about that “ah-ah” moment when you find something new, that can make this data discovery process quite fun.
Summing up, changing paths and shifting my career from quality assurance to business intelligence was the right move for me. There are several other factors weighing on why I enjoy what I do professionally, but these are the main reasons why I love BI and why I think you should get excited about it, too!