New “Renaissance” in BI/DW Certifications

Good News for Companies, Employees, Efficiency and Revenues

BI certifications, which experienced a sharp decline for the past several years, are staging a comeback, with annual growth for the past two years trending significantly upwards.  There are many reasons for this reemergence of certifications, ranging from more accessible forms of test delivery to BI professionals’ desire to distinguish themselves in a talent-saturated field.  Also pushing certifications back to the forefront of BI is the continued popularity of outsourcing BI skills, with more and more businesses requiring that outsourcers demonstrate a certain level of BI / DW competency, often through certifications.

The Internet: Accessibility and Popularity

These exams can be taken via Internet-based testing (IBT) and can be administered at nearly any location with a certified exam proctor and an Internet connection, expanding the reach of these certifications to thousands of additional locations.

Big Data, NoSQL, Cloud Analytics: Unlocking the Door for More Certifications

A renewed focus on Business Intelligence, Big Data, and NoSQL has contributed greatly to the revitalization of certifications. With more and more large scale data feeds and undefined data sources occurring across both the public and private sectors, information alignment and asset measurement have become more important than ever.  The qualifications and skills of individuals charged with the management and identification of this data are now highly-scrutinized by corporations and government entities alike, making Business Intelligence certifications an easy way to validate proof-of-skill in the Data Vault arena.

The Data Vault model, methodology, and architecture provide the foundational and repeatable approach needed to seamlessly integrate the NoSQL and Big Data environments.  The Certified Data Vault 2.0 Professional (CDVP2) is more than equipped to adapt to these new technologies, allowing the projects to move ahead without sunk cost or lost investment.

Can BI Professionals Afford NOT to Certify?

BI professionals must now ask themselves: Can I afford NOT to be certified?  The perceived value placed on certifications by employers is obvious, and recent studies have shown the depth of this emphasis. Redmond Magazine’s 11th annual survey of compensation for Microsoft IT professionals, for example, found that in 2006, raises and bonuses increased for the third year in a row — as have salaries, climbing 3.3 percent from the previous year.   In the past decade that Redmond has conducted the survey, the overall finding is that certifications, in this case specifically through Microsoft, have had a positive effect on salaries.

Certifications show verification of knowledge and expertise as well. The need for specialized Data Vault knowledge has risen over the past few years with rapid advances in technology, resulting in a shortage of professionals qualified to fill positions requiring these narrow skill-sets.  College degrees show an individual’s topical education level, but do not dig deeply enough into real-world, practical skills and knowledge to show how a potential employee would deal with a particular technology issue or problem. For this reason, incorporating performance-based testing into an existing multiple choice exam is an effective complement.  Claiming knowledge of a given field is one thing, but even better is being able to hold up a certification as proof.  Clients and employers alike are prone to feel more confident with the Data Vault expertise received if they feel that the person helping them has the right abilities to get the job done correctly.

Along the same lines, employers are likely to believe that job candidates with an Data Vault certification are more qualified than candidates without.  Data Vault certifications can prove to be an effective bargaining chip when job hunting, especially when faced with non-certified competition, as well as when trying to negotiate salary, title and other issues.  This “edge” in the job market positively impacts certification growth.  Many employers of Data Vault professionals use certification as a pre-requisite for hiring consideration and often view a certification as proof that a job candidate knows their field.  Business Intelligence professionals have taken notice and often hold more than one – and sometimes as many as 20 or 30 – unique certifications.

Certifications do not stop working in the candidates favor after hiring, however.  Pre-existing or newly gained certifications show that the candidate takes initiative to grow and learn.  Similarly, development of new skills can help push a BI professional up the promotional ladder once in a position. If promotion candidates “A” and “B” are competing for the same position, it is likely that the candidate who has spent additional time and money on professional development, and thus increased their skill set and knowledge base, would be selected. The increased importance placed by employers on a well trained and up-to-speed BI workforce makes certifications invaluable to professionals in these instances.

The Third-Party Component:

What Does Certification Mean for Outsourcing and Nearshoring?

As companies have fallen under increased pressure to keep overhead costs down, some have turned to outsourcing, either domestically or abroad, to supplement in-house data warehousing skills. As companies increasingly turn to outsourced data centers for BI support, a Data Vault certification would seem an obvious and clear-cut way of determining which data warehousing centers are qualified and experienced enough to handle their business efficiently and effectively.

One challenge with outsourcing Business Intelligence is that there are often different standards, varying from industry to industry and region to region, of what knowledge level is acceptable in obtaining a BI position.  Increasingly, companies looking to outsource BI support are requiring certifications as a way to level-set standards and equalize expertise across borders and industries. Because many organizations are requiring a certain level of knowledge – and proof of it – outsourcing companies and domestic data centers alike are insisting BI professionals become certified.

The End Result of the Renaissance

Across the board, all signs point to Data Vault certifications experiencing a strong demand, thanks to multiple factors placing greater importance on validation of skills. For the professional, it offers immediately recognizable proof and credibility of their skill sets, a foot in the door when trying to land a new job and a significant advantage in career advancement.  Data Warehousing initiatives hiring certified Data Vault professionals benefit substantially by having a third-party validated knowledge base, which can lead to a better industry reputation and, therefore, more customers.  The more the cost efficiencies of keeping certified professionals on staff are realized, the more the demand for these skills will increase.