(CAP) Confessions of Analytics Professionals<!-- --> | <!-- -->Assume Wisely
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(CAP) Confessions of Analytics Professionals

Posted: June 5, 2023

Hi, my name is Max, and I am mistaken. I sit in a brightly lit room, adorned with charts and graphs, I can't help but feel a sense of relief mixed with trepidation. This isn't your typical support group, but rather Confessions of Analytics Practitioners (C.A.P.)—the gathering place for data analysts like me who are trapped, ensnared in a conflict of metrics. It used to be Mistaken Metrics Anonymous but the MMA shorthand drew the wrong crowd. One too many nerds were forced to tap out and the name changed. Little do I know that this humble meeting would become the turning point in my journey, where I will find solace, humor, and the courage to face the challenge of deciphering the truth hidden within a tangle of numbers.

My story isn’t that unique. In the fast-paced world of data analytics, I find myself tangled in a web of confusion. I’m tasked with delivering reliable key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to the boss, Stacie Dime, a decisive leader who relies on me both for crucial business decisions as well as inane questions. The work ahead, behind, and all around is strewn with challenges and conflicting values.

Day in and day out, I scour reports hoping to find the needle of truth in the haystack of numbers. The more I search, the more I feel trapped in a data-driven version of "Where's Waldo?" The sheer volume of information is overwhelming. I chase from minut detail to minut detail. I never seem to find the truth. I hate the feeling that I'm wrong. That feeling, I tell the group, is where my story begins.

I smell color.

Stacie Dime

“We’re f*cked!”

The words reverberate in my mind. Stacie Dime repeats them again and again. How many times can she utter that phrase before deciding to fire me? I am about to find out. It’s even worse when your boss . . . is also the owner. Owners are always worse. It’s more personal for them.

I poured my heart and soul into . . . hours of effort condensed into a single document. Stacie dismisses it with a fleeting glance. The numbers, apparently, are all wrong.

The weight of those two words hung heavy in the air. If our reporting lacks reliability, the business suffers. The message hit hard. I glanced around the room, Harper seems very focused on not making eye contact. Everyone else looks away.

If we can’t have reliable reporting, we’re f*cked. Message received.

I recount the countless hours spent poring over reports, meticulously coding my SQL, and striving for perfect formatting. I believed I had cracked the code. That of course was before Stacie saw it.

I finish my story. I look across the room to see empathetic nods and knowing smiles. I'm not alone.

I exhale.

I feel a little better.

Serge Sookram

A tantalizing scent wafts through the air, calling for an end to the meeting. It's food time. The food is usually pretty good and today—it’s from a New York deli food truck. I can't resist a juicy pastrami sandwich. It’s piled high with dill pickles and a bag of salt-n-vinegar chips. As I take a big bite, a voice from beside me exclaims, "Nice choice! I'm Serge, an analytics engineer with an appetite for everything that'll kill me: fast food, fast cars, & fast women.”

We laugh.

“I feel your pain,” Serge empathizes. “Truth be told, I'm sure my analyst said as much. I know I said it plenty, in part that drove me into analytics engineering. I subscribe to the Papa Johns school of cooking: better ingredients, better pizza. Same goes for working with data. Garbage in. Garbage out. Better data means better insights.”

“Said?” I question. “Your analyst said as much. You mean as in now they don’t?”

“I’d like to think so.” Serge leans back, a mischievous grin playing on his face, and says, "You know, Max, there was a time when I encountered a metric so absurd, I had an existential crisis. It’s all BS. Why even bother? I questioned the point of it all, ya know?" His words pique my curiosity, and I lean in. His eye twinkles, Serge begins his story, transporting me to a world where data anomalies run rampant and the quest for truth takes an unexpected turn.

Serge begins his story.

Serge’s story

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I smell color.

Git Sum (un)common sense,

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