What’s in your toolkit?

I was lucky enough to visit the Data Insights Conference in Seattle earlier this year and the hunger for data and love thereof was apparent from all the speakers and how they engaged with their subjects. There were a few standouts, but one of the concepts that resonated with me personally was deprecating the boring, static, repetitive bits and to focus on where we really add value. This is valuable advice for any profession, but what does it mean for those of us that roll up our sleeves and dig into data all day long?

We need a toolkit. In our work there are a large number of repetitive, repeatable patterns that you will carry with you from client to client. These can be basic concepts like tally tables, date dimensions and simple logging structures. They can be more advanced and look at CDC load patterns, BIML accelerators for data loads. Or the real value adds like fair measures that you can apply to different environments or exception reporting frameworks that deal with business related problems rather than data related problems. But fundamentally they are all there to be tools that you can pull out of your toolkit to remove some of that initial construction overhead. They are the patterns that you implement or need multiple times across different clients. To get to the bits where you are doing basket analysis or predictive analytics or other interesting, larger value add pieces of work.

A toolkit is also a very personal thing. You should have one that is your own. When you write or research an interesting piece of work, save it. Put it in a toolkit that lives on some cloud storage or document storage where you can readily retrieve it, make it available and use it. For myself, I have a combination of Azure, OneNote and OneDrive to help with demonstrations, code samples, documents and patterns that get me to the end-game faster.

I think the value of getting away from the mundane, simple tasks and into the real value adds is worthwhile and this is one more tool to get you there faster.¬†Over time I’ll share some of the pieces I’m adding into mine and I’d also like to hear what is in yours.