A few months ago I enrolled in the CBIP (Certified Business Intelligence Professional) certification program administered by the TDWI institute. I thought I'd share my experience as it might be useful to someone else doing this certification.
I have a finance background (MSc in Finance/ management and I am a CFA charterholder); however I enjoy various IT subjects and the data analysis in particular so I said why not giving the CBIP a go. I have already read a relatively large number of technical books on the business intelligence subject so I thought that the CBIP certification will give me at least a general guidance and a framework - in addition to being able to learn new things as well as putting nice 4 new letters on my CV :)
So far the course study was very interesting and I can say I have learned a lot. I have sat the Data Warehousing core exam - and passed with 77%. This week (Friday) I'm taking the speciality Business Intelligence & Analytics exam, fingers crossed. I'm already dreading a bit the last mandatory exam- IS Core, since I don't have an IT background it might be a bit of a challenge from what I hear. But hey, a good challenge ahead!
My strategy was and is to read books from the recommended reading list + some Wikipedia articles. Even though the exam guide book is expensive (cca. $100 if I recall well), it is very useful. It guides you through all of the exams with the topics outlines, gives you the list of the recommended readings and it has some sample exams as well. So my first advice would be - buy it.
As I already mentioned, my strategy is mainly reading some of the recommended books.Here is the list of what I have read so far:
For the Data Warehousing exam:
- Kimball & Co: The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit : VERY good book on data warehousing and very useful for the exam. It is quite a heavy read, it is stated to have cca. 500 pages but on my Kindle DX it looked more like 1500 pages. It took me a while to get through it and I read it from cover to cover but it is definitely worth it.
- Kimball & Co: The Kimball Group reader: this one is actually a formatted collection of articles that the Kimball group published over the years. I didn't read everything from it because some articles are a repetition from the above book - but it was still useful and I learned quite a few new things.
- Larissa Moss & Co: Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle : I read some parts of this book for the DW exam and some parts for the Business Analytics one. There is some overlap with this book and the Kimball ones. However this book doesn't only cover the Data warehousing side of things but also other aspects of the BI program/ project. Consequently it is not as complete as the 2 above books but it gives you a good overview and summary.
- I also read a few Wiki articles on subjects not covered by these books. Prior to enrolling on the CBIP I read a book by Roland Bauman: Pentaho Solutions: Business Intelligence and Data... I bought this mainly because of my work but found that it had several chapters that were very useful for the exam as well.
For the Business Analytics exam:
- David Loshin: Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager's Guide: I think this was the most useful book from the ones I read for the Business Analytics exam in terms of a match towards the topics outlines. It was good overall; the only problem I had with it was that I had the impression that the writing style of the author was switching several times between what I would call an easy reading and then quite a sophisticated one. Or maybe I was just tired after work when I read some more technical parts of it :)
- Thomas Davenport: Analytics at Work...: very good book. The author is a business analytics and management consultant and at least for me it was quite refreshing to read a book from a business perspective for a change. This one was the least technical from all books I have read so far but it was a very interesting read. And it was really funny at times as well.
- Larissa Moss & Co: Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle: as already mentioned before
- Carlo Vercellis: Business Intelligence: Data Mining...: this one was more of a stats and maths book and their application to business analytics. Despite the subject it was still quite readable. I haven't read everything (maybe 50% of the whole book) because some of the topics were more advances than what I needed. The book has 2 main parts - qualitative introduction to BI (data, warehousing...) and then statistical models and their application to BA problems.
So there we go, that's all for now. As I said I'll be sitting the Business Analytics exam this Friday so I will see whether my strategy continues to be successful or not.
You might say that I'm reading an unnecessary amount of materials for these exams. As I explained, I actually enjoy reading material on these subjects and my primary motivation is to learn while doing the exam, not just have the certification - although that will be nice :) I spent roughly 1.5 months preparing for each of the exams.
You might also say that I'm overly positive in my review of the above books. Maybe but the reason might also partially be that I'm only buying books on Amazon (with my Kindle) that already have very good reviews. The only times I found I didn't really like books I bought on these topics was when I bought books that were actually not what I was looking for or were too technical.
Till the next time!