How to Master Your Data Journey

Covers of Info We Trust, Visual Analytics with Tableau, The Big Book of Dashboards
From ideas to dashboards: The Data Journey Canon

Last year I started lecturing a Data Analytics course at university (as part of an MBA program). In the meanwhile, I was refining the list of books that I highly recommend to read. Three of these books form the Data Journey!

What is the Data Journey?

The Data Journey is a human-focused approach to understand the evolution of data storytelling, the power of visual analytics, and the impact of data from real-world business scenarios.

1. Info We Trust: How to Inspire the World with Data

We start our Data Journey with the book Info We Trust. This book examines all parts of the data storytelling lifecycle across disciplines. The use of marginalia and hand-drawn illustrations give you both simple lessons to take away, and insights into where to find out more. The book is full of magnificent references that inspire further reading.

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Info We Trust: How to Inspire the World with Data
  • RJ Andrews
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Edition no. 1 (01.03.2019)
  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 272 pages

2. Visual Analytics with Tableau

Now it’s time for hands-on. Visual Analytics with Tableau covers everything you need to get started with Tableau (students get Tableau for free!). The book guides you from the first steps of connecting to data, creating different types of charts, and adding calculation fields to more advanced features such as table calculations, forecasts, and clusters, as well as R, Python, and MATLAB integration for sophisticated statistical modeling.

Visual Analytics with Tableau
  • Alexander Loth
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Edition no. 1 (31.05.2019)
  • Taschenbuch: 288 pages

3. The Big Book of Dashboards: Visualizing Your Data Using Real-World Business Scenarios

Back to business (as this course is designed for an MBA program). We close our Data Journey canon with The Big Book of Dashboards. This is a comprehensive reference book with real-world solutions for business dashboards and detailed analysis of do’s and don’ts. The examples in this book are well-organized and categorized by industry and functional business areas.

The Big Book of Dashboards: Visualizing Your Data Using Real-World Business Scenarios
  • Steve Wexler, Jeffrey Shaffer, Andy Cotgreave
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Edition no. 1 (02.06.2017)
  • Taschenbuch: 448 pages

[Update 10 July 2019]: Do you need more inspiration?

#MakeoverMonday: Improving How We Visualize and Analyze Data, One Chart at a Time

Because vizzing alone is only half the fun, you should not miss the #MakeoverMonday book. Eva Murray and Andy Kriebel are icons in the data visualization community (read the interview!) and they have curated the thousands of visualizations from the #MakeoverMonday project into a practical guide that will take your design and data communication skills to the next level!

#MakeoverMonday: Improving How We Visualize and Analyze Data, One Chart at a Time
  • Andy Kriebel, Eva Murray
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Edition no. 1 (04.12.2018)
  • Taschenbuch: 496 pages

Which books would you recommend for the #DataJourney?

Share your favorite data books in the blog post comments or reply to this tweet:

It’s My 10 Year Blogging Anniversary!

Photo from an early blog post: 2007 Hampi, a temple town in South India recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site
Photo from an early blog post: 2007 Hampi, a temple town in South India recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site (Flickr)

Woohoo, it’s already ten years since I started this blog. Can’t believe it! Thanks to all of those who read my posts, and who encouraged and inspired me. Without you blogging would be only half the fun! Now, let’s have a little recap…

2007-2009 SAP and India:

It all started in 2007. I was studying Computer Science, and decided to go for an internship abroad. China and India were on my short list. I decided for India, applied for a scholarship and asked some companies for interesting project work. Before starting the adventure, I published my very first blog post to keep family and friends in loop.

For the next seven month, I lived in Bangalore, and worked for SAP Labs India to develop prototypes for mobile BI apps. I spent plenty of weekends to explore India and surrounding countries. After returning from India, I continued to work for SAP at their headquarters while finishing my degree in Karlsruhe.

2009-2012 CERN:

CERN, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Lake Geneva, grabbed my attention during the end of my studies. CERN has tons of data: some petabytes! Challange accepted. CERN is known for its particle accelerator Large Hadron Collider (LHC). We applied machine learning to identify new correlations between variables (LHC data and external data) that were not previously connected.

2012-2015 Capgemini and MBA:

Back in Germany, I wanted to bring Big Data Analytics to companies. To one company? No, to many companies! So instead of getting hired as Head of BI for an SME, I started to work for Capgemini. I had fantastic projects, designed data-driven usecases for the financial sector, and gave advice for digital transformation inititives.

In order to keep in balance with all the project work, I dedicated many of my weekend for studies and got enrolled in Frankfurt School’s Executive MBA programme. During my studies, I focused on Emerging Markets and visited a module at CEIBS in Shanghai.

2015-201? Tableau and Futura:

I knew Tableau from my time as consultant. It is an awesome company with a great product and a mission: help people see and understand their data. That’s me! I joined Tableau to help organizations through the transition from classic BI factories to modern self-service analytics by developing data strategies, so that data can be treated as a corporate asset. This includes education, evangelism and establishing a data-driven culture.

In the evenings I’m working for Futura Analytics, a fintech startup, which I co-founded in 2017. Futura Analytics offers real-time information discovery, and transforms data from social media and other public sources into actionable signals.

What’s next?

Currently I’m looking forward giving my Data Strategy talk on TC17 accompanied by a TensorFlow demo scenario. I’m also learning Mandarin, the predominant language of business, politics, and media in China and Taiwan, for quite a while. Let’s see if that is going to influence my next steps… 🙂

How to unleash Data Science with an MBA?

Servers record a copy of LHC data and distribute it around the world for Analytics

My Data Science journey starts at CERN where I finished my master thesis in 2009. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and has some questions to answer: like how the universe works and what is it made of. CERN collects nearly unbelievable amounts of data – 35 petabytes of data per year that needs analysis. After submitted my thesis, I continued my Data Science research at CERN.

I began to wonder: Which insights are to be discovered beyond Particle Physics? How can traditional companies benefit from Data Science? After almost four exciting years at CERN with plenty of Hadoop and Map/Reduce, I decided to join Capgemini to develop business in Big Data Analysics, and to boost their engagements in Business Intelligence. In order to leverage my data-driven background I enrolled for the Executive MBA program at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management including an Emerging Markets module at CEIBS in Shanghai.

Today companies have realized that Business Analytics needs to be an essential part of their competitive strategy. The demand on Data Scientists grows exponentially. To me, Data Science is more about the right questions being asked than the actual data. The MBA enabled me to understand that data does not provide insights unless appropriately questioned. Delivering excellent Big Data projects requires a full understanding of the business, developing the questions, distilling the adequate amount of data to answer those questions and communicating the proposed solution to the target audience.

“The task of leaders is to simplify. You should be able to explain where you have to go in two minutes.” – Jeroen van der Veer, former CEO of Royal Dutch Shell