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John Brand

John Brand

Vice President and Principal Analyst

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John Brand's Advice

think differently and try different approaches

My advice to these professionals is to think differently and try different approaches if they're not working effectively. There's no point trying t... more>>
The Journey:Early days to How I got here
Through my career I have often started in technical roles and then moved up into management roles in the same organisations. I guess the key message there is to be always thinking about the business issues, even when you're technically skilled. There's no point being an expert in anything if no-one knows how to make use of you! It might seem quite odd but I've never consciously tried to scale the ladder at all. Doing a good job and making sure I'm focused on the right things for both the organisation and our customers is really the only thing I've ever been focused on.    
Decisions That Mattered
To be relevant to the business and committed to doing a good job - even if it means going against the tide sometimes. I've found that you can have just about any opinion in business but those that do well in their careers know how to articulate their opinion reasonably. It's no good just being right or wrong. The key is making sure you can ignore the irrelevant and focus on the important and always to be able to communicate why you're doing what you’re doing.   

The Turning Points
Becoming an industry analyst was probably the major inflection point for me. I was always opinionated and outspoken about technology related issues and so it really fit my personality. Before that, the major inflection points were always to do with people believing in me and giving me a chance or a unique opportunity.  
Lessons Learnt
Be genuine, be open minded, be critical. Not necessarily in that order but always in equal measure. 
Must have skills in BI.. As I see them
BI that is connected to, and driven more by the mobile device, rather than the repository. This is not just about having a data warehouse and exposing BI capabilities through mobile devices. There is a complete change in the way BI is implemented and delivered based on the unique device characteristics - like location, proximity, speed and direction. This will be an interesting market opportunity because the possibilities are endless. However, there are very few people and organisations who will be able to do it really well. There is just as much art in delivering BI in this way than there is science.  
Two Years Down the Line
Probably just a little older. There's not much that I would really want to change at this point. I really like dealing with some very interesting global companies and large government organisations to try and help them make better decisions about technology. If something better than this ever came along I'd probably not even recognise it.
Work and Role: Then and Now
It is unrecognisable from when I started Technology has been through some incredible changes and I've either seen or had to deal with all these changes over the years. I look at some of my friends and marvel at the fact that they've only had to deal with a single industry (often doing things exactly the same way) through their entire working life. I feel like I've had at least 4 major careers over the same period.
Trends to Watch Out For
I'm particularly interested in following the evolution of big data and how this is being impacted by things like mobility and cloud computing. I'm also following the "invitation based access control" approach to security that is emerging out of some of the social media usage. I think this will have a major implication on the way we design, develop, deploy, manage and use technology in the enterprise in the future.
Books/Websites I recommend
More than reading books or browsing websites I suggest talking more to BI users. Get their ideas, think about their possibilities openly and then seek solutions to help solve their problems without any bias or closed thinking about how it should be done. Some off the best solutions I've seen out there are technically the simplest. It's all about the implementation and making sure that it's fit for purpose. Sometimes we become far too focused on the topic and technicalities of BI and forget that it's people like us that use them.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
My advice to these professionals is to think differently and try different approaches if they're not working effectively. There's no point trying to do the same thing over and over again if its not perceived as valuable to the users. If something is not working, or is too costly or complex, try something else. Theres a pervasive force in the area of BI and analytics that says that there's a right way of doing things. The reality is that there are many ways of doing things. Some are more right than others at certain periods of time. But you need to be able to distinguish when something needs to change and why and then be able to make it happen. BI is always in the top 5 list of the CIOs concerns. That's a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity. But far too many organisations make poor technology choices because they believe there is only one clear and right way of doing it.
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