The most frustrating question you have to answer all the time

Picture of a Business Intelligence Professional shaking handsWe hear this question all the time. We ask this question. And depending on the scenario it can be really hard to answer. What do you do?

No.  That IS the question, “What do you do?”

For the Business Intelligence professional, you know what’s coming next, “What is that?” it’s either mixed with a smirk because it sounded like you were being evasive, or a doubtful look, because they think it’s some fancier way to say your job, like a custodial engineer or domestic manager of a small labor force. Either way, you analyze how long you have with this person and their level of interest before you respond. Here are three canned responses we suggest.

1. Interest level low and time is short

For this scenario you can say,

“It’s a combination of Marketing, Sales and Information Systems work… slightly geeky, but fun.”

Many of the terms are recognizable and while they may not “get it” they can at least put you into a box and walk away.

2. Interest level high and time is short

For this scenario you want to pontificate and tell them all about your projects and interactions with management and your ownership of processes, but there just isn’t time. We recommend something to this effect,

“It’s a mixture of working with other managers and people in the business to get information and help the company know what it’s doing and where it’s doing it. Think of it like a Special Ops team and fortune teller mixed.”

The last part will stick with them and it puts you in that position of smart and action oriented.

3. Interest level high and there’s some time

Obviously, this is our favorite scenario because we get to talk about ourselves. At this point, we will remind you that all conversations about work and your job are potential interviews either as a customer or possible employer, so don’t bore them. Lately we’ve noticed if you mention too many IS items, then they will quickly put you into a box “Oh, he does reporting and is a computer guy”. This may be okay for how you want to be portrayed, but Business Intelligence is about making solutions and helping the company get smarter. So in this scenario we usually will start with,

“it’s a good industry to be in, the real gist of this type of job is to make solutions for those in the company, for example…”

At this point list two of your favorite or recent projects. Then say,

“…there is an Information Systems (IS) bend to the role, but a lot of it is also making the company smarter, i.e. helping sales call on the right people, helping Marketing know what they are doing is affective and helping management make quick and informed decisions.”

If you go any further you’re monopolizing the conversation. Either turn the question to them, or ask what challenges they’ve been having in their business. If you have some solutions then go that route and make sure to get their business card. Always be networking…
Have you found a better phrasing for a Business Intelligence professional? We’d love to hear it, and will try it out at the next office party or afterhours event.

Photo Credit: buddawiggi

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