May 25, 2017

Invest time in these CPD resources for your warm evenings

By Paul Laughlin

CPD resourcesAs the temperature becomes increasingly balmy & we enjoy lighter evenings, do you have more time to look over CPD resources?

We’ve mentioned previously the importance of Continuous Professional Development (CPD), both as a leader & an insight professional (data, analytics or research).

So, to complement those reflections on what breadth of content is relevant for Customer Insight leaders, this post shares a few more resources that may help. Once again, I’ve sought to cover a range of different topics that can be relevant.

I hope these resources help you and perhaps inspire further exploration, of a wider range of sources. Enjoy!

Increasing the variety of your Data Visualisations

This topic is so key, to insights having impact, that we are going to focus on Data Viz as an editorial theme next month. For now I have selected two different resources to help widen your repertoire.

If you are like the majority of analysts working in business today, your data visualisation toolkit is limited to what you can produce in Excel. That is not ideal, but there is still more that you can do with Excel than you may imagine. Jon Schwabish and his Policy Viz site produce some excellent resources, some of which focus on those using Excel. In this blog post, Jon shares how to produce Pixel Map graphs. A useful walk-through of how to produce these & an Excel file to download. This could help improve your options for communicating data with a geo-spatial dimension:

Pixel Maps in Excel – Policy Viz

I saw this interesting post from Len Kiefer yesterday about creating a Pixel map of the U.S. using R (which he based off this blog post by Colin Fay).

If you’re convinced as to the importance of learning more about data visualisation, I’d also like to recommend an event. Don’t worry, after Tony’s warning, it isn’t a mega conference in Vegas!

Instead, the OpenVis conference, happened earlier this year in Boston. So, why am I recommending an event in the past? Because they have done a great job of publishing all the content (for free) online. So, from the comfort of your favourite armchair, you can learn from experts and practitioners in the field. Enjoy the visualisation of themes for videos, as a way to navigate to the content you want to watch:

Digging beneath the spin to the real promise of AI

After having invested in honing your ability to present today’s analytics, how about taking some CPD time to consider the future?

Social Media is awash with content about Machine Learning, Deep Learning and other popular buzzwords. Having been working with Artificial Intelligence since the 90s, I still prefer to use that encompassing term. I’m also cautious to be more pragmatic, as I’ve seen past waves of enthusiasm about ‘expert systems‘ and ‘neural computing‘ fail to embed through real business change.

There are reasons to believe things will be different this time, both because of developments in technology and the resources (people & finance) being thrown at innovation in this area. But, still there is a need (as we cited for blockchain) to carefully select relevant ‘use cases‘ & answer the practical problems businesses currently face.

So, I found this video, published by Frank Chen, to be encouraging. In it Frank draws out some real world applications, as well as giving us insights into current research developments. His personable style helps bring to life how AI can help reduce costs in a number of areas. Interesting examples (including ‘cucumber sorter’) & worth thinking about the data & analytics that AI apps will need to conquer these problems:

Bringing GDPR compliance to life for ordinary citizens

I’ve shared previously some advice on avoiding a nasty shock (“getting bit on the bum“) from GDPR enforcement in one year’s time. My previous CPD resources post also suggested that understanding how your business needs to change, to comply with this key regulation, should be a critical learning topic for all data leaders.

However, I still hear plenty of clients & other insight leaders ask “what does good look like?” It’s unsurprising that companies want to understand what other firms are doing. Few want to risk the disruption (including cost) of complying more strictly than others (assuming they are not fined). But, more than that, I hear a desire to see positive examples, of organisations who have seen the opportunity to develop a new & stronger customer relationship from such permission-based transparency.

In this article from David Reed (the sage of DataIQ), he rightly points out that the MyBBC project has achieved just this & in so doing educated consumers better than public bodies are doing. Through clear communication and an Identity Relationship Management system, the BBC has been clear in the value exchange of requesting data & permission in exchange for more personalised & portable content. David pulls out a number of key points that it’s worth reflecting upon for your business:

BBC is doing a better GDPR education job than the EU

What does tailored content mean to you? Are you in the half of consumers who say it’s ok, as long as you have a choice? Or even the 9 per cent who enjoy it because it is beneficial? Or do you fall into the group who say they dislike it and…

To find out more about this positive example, it’s worth hearing this case study presentation by Phil Fearnley the leader delivering this change:

Keep protecting time for CPD resources

I hope you found at least some of that content useful.

Whilst these warm nights might make it harder to sleep, I hope you still manage to protect time to invest in your personal development. Finding sites, newsletters, podcasts, magazines & other sources that help you learn & spark new ideas – is always valuable time. I’ve yet to coach or mentor a leader who spends too much time on their own CPD, but meet many who neglect their own development.

So, let me encourage you to buck the trend. Protecting some of your time to increase your knowledge & consume CPD resources is still helping others. It is investing in your ability to help others better in future. So, as Stephen Covey put it years ago, don’t forget to “sharpen the saw“.