How to Fix an Import Specification Error in Microsoft Access

There are certain aspects of Microsoft Access that can be downright frustrating and puzzling to debug. I want to share a tip with you that will hopefully save you hours of frustration. There is nothing more foundational than importing data into Microsoft Access so most likely you’ll appreciate the fix for this run-time error if you are attempting to use VBA.

If you encounter the following Microsoft Access Error:

“Run-Time error ‘3625’: The text file specification ‘My Saved Access Import Spec’ does not exist. You cannot import, export, or link using that specification.”

Most likely you have confused a saved set of “import steps” with a saved “Import/Export specification” while trying to use the Docmd.TransferText command; or at least I did.

Consider the following sample VBA code that uses the Docmd.TransferText command to import a delimited file (from a path stored in string variable strInputFileName) into a table named “tbl_Access_Import_Data” using an import specification.

Private Sub cmd_Import_Table_Click()

Dim strInputFileName As String
‘Set Path to Local CSV File. This file will be imported into an Access Table.
strInputFileName = “C:\Users\Desktop\Access Data\Access_Import_Data”

‘ Use a Macro to Import a delimited file
‘ “My Saved Access Import Spec” = Import Spec
‘ “tbl_Access_Import_Data” = Destination Access Table
‘ strInputFileName = hardcoded path to source csv file

DoCmd.TransferText acImportDelim, “My Saved Access Import Spec”, “tbl_Access_Import_Data”, strInputFileName

End Sub

4. Error 3625 Edited 2

Let me show you where I went off track. I saved “import steps” and then tried to reference the saved “import steps” with the Docmd.TransferText method. You cannot reference “import steps” with this method, only “Import/Export specifications”.

1. Import Text Wizard Edited

I used the Import Text Wizard to define and delimit the columns in a specified .csv file and indicated the table I desired to have that data imported into. Afterwards, I pressed the finish button.

2. Import Text Wizard Blurred

Once I hit “Finish”, on the very next screen I saved the “import steps” that I previously defined. Notice the verbiage next to step 1 (i.e. “Save import steps”).

3. Saved Fake Spec Blurred

As you can see above, I created a saved “import step” erroneously named “My Saved Access Import Spec”. This name was the value that I erroneously passed to the Docmd.TransferText method in code.

4. Error 3625 Edited 2

These actions result in ‘Run-time error 3625’ that we will fix.

5. Import data Secification Edited

In order to save a legitimate Import/Export specification that can be successfully referenced with the Docmd.TransferText method, make sure to hit the “Advanced” button before you hit “Finish” when you come to the last window of the Import Text Wizard.

Make sure to hit “Save As” (Step 2 above) on the right hand side of the window.

6. Capture Edited

At this point, name and then save your true Import/Export specification name and hit “OK”.

Now when you come to the same window again you can hit the “Specs…” button to observe the names of all of the saved Import/Export specifications.

7. Specs Button Edited

In the pic above I only have 1 Import/Export specification named “My Real Saved Access Import Spec”.

7.5 Import Complete Edited 2

Observe, once the true Import/Export specification is referenced in VBA code, the code executes as intended.

Additional Tips

I am not aware of how to edit Import/Export specifications. The best advice that I have is to recreate and then overwrite the existing specification or save the new revised specification with a different name.

If you place the following SQL code in a blank Select Query, you can view all the true specification names along with field names and respective field widths.

SELECT
MSysIMEXSpecs.SpecName,
MSysIMEXColumns.FieldName,
MSysIMEXColumns.Start,
MSysIMEXColumns.Width,
MSysIMEXColumns.SkipColumn
FROM MSysIMEXColumns
INNER JOIN MSysIMEXSpecs
ON MSysIMEXColumns.SpecID = MSysIMEXSpecs.SpecID

ORDER BY MSysIMEXSpecs.SpecName,
MSysIMEXColumns.Start,
MSysIMEXColumns.Width;

8. SQL Results Edited

The results of that query from my example database are shown above. All due credit goes to stackoverflow for this SQL tip.

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/34295360/the-text-file-specification-does-not-exist-when-importing-into-access

3. Saved Fake Spec Blurred

Furthermore, if you are intent on referencing saved import steps in VBA code (not to be confused with the aforementioned Import/Export specification), then use the Docmd.RunSavedImportExport method.

To execute the “import step” shown in the picture above using VBA, I would use the following command:

DoCmd.RunSavedImportExport “My Saved Access Import Spec”

I hope this helps solve your “how to fix Run-Time error 3625 in Microsoft Access” question. Good luck!

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Add a “Reset All Filters” Button to Your Tableau Dashboard

Help users navigate your Tableau dashboard with less effort. In this video I will show you how to create a “Reset All Filters” button on a Tableau dashboard. We achieve the desired effect by using a Tableau action that runs on select of a mark.

The data I am using for illustration purposes is primarily sourced from Mockaroo.com and is loosely based upon data from an actual client of mine. All vendor names, dates, amounts and other data are changed substantially from original form. Feel free to contact me if you need an analysis of your Accounts Payable ERP data from PeopleSoft, JD Edwards or any other source!

Broadcom & Qualcomm: The Largest Deal in the History of Technology That Never Happened

One hundred and twenty one billion dollars; the number was staggering as it potentially represented the largest deal in the history of technology. While neither Broadcom nor Qualcomm are household names like Samsung or Intel, the combined company would have created the world’s third largest chip maker.

On November 2, 2017 Hock Tan, the chief executive of Broadcom, announced the company’s intent to redomicile its headquarters from Singapore to the United States. Mr. Tan made this announcement from the Oval Office while the current president of the United States looked on approvingly in the background.

Mr. Tan was effusive in his praise of America and its newly overhauled corporate tax rates. He preached that many of his direct managers and a majority of Broadcom’s board members and shareholders were also Americans. “America is once again the best place to lead a business with a global footprint” according to Mr. Tan. The ulterior motive of this patriotic show was revealed just four days later when Broadcom announced its intent to buy notably larger competitor Qualcomm for $105 billion dollars. The hostile takeover deal was eventually bumped up to $121 billion after being rebuffed by Qualcomm. Broadcom eventually retaliated by nominating its own directors to Qualcomm’s board to force a potential deal.

While calling the timing of the Qualcomm takeover announcement a “coincidence”, Broadcom was betting its chips (pun intended) that relocating to the U.S. would placate U.S. regulatory bodies and ingratiate itself with a protectionist American president who is averse to foreign competition. Furthermore, if Broadcom were classified as an American company, it could avoid the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIS). CFIS has broad powers to review the national security implications of foreign investment in domestic companies.

Ultimately, the political maneuvering was all for naught as an executive order shut down the possibility of a merger on national security grounds. However, Broadcom has indicated that it still plans to redomicile to the U.S. from Singapore by April 2018; a move that could be advantageous in its hunt for future domestic acquisitions.

Broadcom’s Acquisition Mentality Starts at the Top

Broadcom’s CEO Hock Tan immigrated to the United States from Malaysia and eventually became a naturalized citizen in 1990. He earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT and subsequently furthered his education with an MBA from Harvard’s much vaunted Business School.

It was in 2006 that he became the CEO of Broadcom’s predecessor Avago Technologies Ltd. which itself began as a division of Hewlett Packard. At the helm of Avago, Hock Tan has demonstrated remarkable expertise in deal making and value creation via acquisition. Mr. Tan (for better or worse) brings a private equity mentality to acquired companies. He targets businesses with high profit margins and then either significantly cuts or sells off the less successful parts of the business. Broadcom maintains a focus on its main customer bases of handset makers and data-center operators.

After bringing chip makers LSI and Emulex into the Avago portfolio, Tan’s crown jewel acquisition came about in 2015 when his company purchased the original Broadcom Corporation for $37 billion and renamed the merged company to Broadcom Limited. At the time of the merger, Broadcom Corporation’s revenues were twice the size of Avago’s.

“‘He ran through Broadcom with a machete,’ says Stacy Rasgon of Bernstein Research. According to Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group, a consultancy focused on semiconductors, Mr. Tan eliminated an entire layer of management at Broadcom and now has around 20 business units reporting directly to him.” – The Economist, Nov 9th 2017

Horizontal Integration Doesn’t Work, Until it Does

Although horizontal integration is frequently touted by firms as a way to create “synergies” and improve strategic positioning in their industries, I learned from noted Georgia Tech strategy Professor Frank Rothaermel that mergers and acquisitions, on average, destroy rather than create shareholder value as the anticipated synergies never materialize (see AOL-Time Warner, Daimler-Chrysler, HP-Compaq, etc). This happens due to the blending of disparate corporate cultures, high management turnover and a tendency to underestimate potential merger issues. However, if a firm can continue to successfully merge, acquire and integrate to its benefit, this can serve as a source of competitive advantage.

“Although there is strong evidence that mergers and acquisitions, on average, destroy rather than create shareholder value, it does not exclude the possibility that some firms are consistently able to identify, acquire, and integrate target companies to strengthen their competitive positions. Since it is valuable, rare, and difficult to imitate, a superior acquisition and integration capability, together with past experience, can lead to competitive advantage.” – Frank T. Rothaermel

With Hock Tan at the helm, Broadcom has flaunted a stellar acquisition and horizontal integration capability to become the world’s fifth largest semiconductor company. The company’s revenues continue to climb as a result of its deal making proficiencies. Even now Broadcom is seeking approval for a $5.9 billion acquisition of data and storage networking products company Brocade.

Broadcomm Revenues

In an apparent Russian nesting doll scenario, the Wall Street Journal reported that industry heavyweight Intel would have considered an offer for Broadcom if the Broadcom-Qualcomm merger was greenlit. Intel would have been trying to ingest Broadcom, which had tried to merge with Qualcomm, which is currently trying to acquire Dutch semiconductor company NXP.

The semiconductor industry continues to move towards an oligopolistic industry structure as firms look to lower their costs by gaining scale. Scale helps chip companies manage the capital intensive nature of their industry.

Research and Development: Show Me the Money

Broadcom and Qualcomm are similar in one respect; they are both fabless (i.e. fabrication-less) chip companies. They design and market processors while relying on an outsourced manufacturer for production. Despite never owning fabs (like Intel & Samsung), they both have become industry leaders. Outsourcing manufacturing allows firms to invest more capital into research and development and subsequent new products.

“In the absence of manufacturing differentiation, semiconductor players that design the most functionality and performance into their products in the shortest amount of time wield distinct competitive advantage. That puts product-development productivity at center stage.” – McKinsey&Company

Where Qualcomm differentiates itself from its peers is in the relative amount of dollars it invests in research and development. Aside from Intel, Qualcomm spends more on R&D than any other chipmaker ($5.15 billion in fiscal year 2016 and $40 billion over the past decade). To put these numbers in perspective, Qualcomm spends more on research and development than both Apple and Amazon.

This focus on research and development is in sharp contrast to Broadcom which operates with a private equity style philosophy that prioritizes cutting both jobs and research after acquisitions to boost short term profits. In theory, less money allocated for research and development leads to weaker products in the future which leads to a loss of competitive advantage. Broadcom tried to counter this criticism by announcing that they would increase Qualcomm’s research and development budget and create a $1.5 billion fund to train American engineers.

Qualcomm Makes Money Off of Every iPhone Sold! (In Theory)

Although Qualcomm may not be a household name, If you own a mobile phone, then most likely you are using Qualcomm’s patented technology. The company’s innovation bona fides were established by helping to bring about mobile standards like LTE. It is also the United States’ champion in the coming 5G revolution which is why it garnered so much political protection.

Qualcomm is a leader in processors that manage cellular communications in smartphones. It competes with Broadcom in the manufacturing of baseband processors that manage a device’s wireless connections. A combined Broadcom-Qualcomm with more market power in Wifi and baseband chips would not make buyers comfortable (see Porter’s Five Forces: Bargaining Power of Suppliers).

In accordance with Qualcomm’s high R&D spending, it owns a veritable trove of patents that are deemed essential to building cellular phones that adhere to wireless standards. The thousands of patents that the company owns allows it to engage in a unique business model that accounts for two thirds of its operating profits. Qualcomm charges device makers (e.g. Apple, its biggest customer) for use of its patents, it does not issue licenses on its patents to rival chipmakers.

These (device-makers) usually pay for the entire patent portfolio, rather than individual patents. And Qualcomm typically charges a percentage of the total selling price of a device—5%, according to insiders. – The Economist, Jan 28th, 2018

In case you missed that, Qualcomm makes money off of the total price of every iPhone sale.

Apple, among other things, claims that per-device royalties mean Qualcomm is taxing its innovation: it must pay up for new features, such as a new kind of camera, even if these are unrelated to Qualcomm’s patents. – The Economist, Jan 28th, 2018

Qualcomm’s Woes

Even though the takeover threat from Broadcom has dissipated, there are various storm clouds hanging over Qualcomm. As would be expected, Qualcomm is engaged in a protracted legal battle with Apple in regards to its business practices. As a result, Apple has withheld billions of dollars in royalty payments that have put downward pressure on Qualcomm’s stock price.

“Qualcomm’s 2019 forecast includes between $2.5 billion and $4 billion in payments it assumes would flow from resolving its customer disputes. It leaves out a further $5 billion to $7 billion in so-called catch-up payments that Qualcomm has said Apple and Huawei will owe by then for royalties they have withheld.” – Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2018

Qualcomm’s loss could be Intel’s gain as Apple has switched over to Intel chips for some of its devices and could completely cut Qualcomm out of the next cycle of iPhones. This scenario would play in Intel’s favor as it looks to diversify away from the PC market which has been in decline.

Qualcomm is also subjected to charges brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission for abusing its monopoly power on certain chips. Adding to its woes, Qualcomm is dealing with additional anti-trust reviews in Europe and Asia as a result of its patent and royalty-centric business model. The European Commission fined the company for $1.24 billion for abusing its position in regards to LTE baseband chips

China fined Qualcomm $975 million (the largest in China’s corporate history) and also forced the company to lower its patent royalty rates in 2015. Since roughly 65% of Qualcomm’s revenues originate from China and Hong Kong, the company had no choice but to comply.

As it fought off being acquired, Qualcomm was also playing the role of acquirer. The company is trying to complete a $47 billion dollar acquisition of Dutch semiconductor company NXP. On paper, the acquisition would bolster Qualcomm’s portfolio of intellectual property in chips for automotive and IoT devices. The deal was announced in 2016 but is currently held up in anti-trust review in China. The United States’ stifling of the Broadcom deal and current trade war tensions with China have not helped Qualcomm in gaining Chinese approval.

Last but not least, boardroom drama surfaced as Qualcomm recently removed its Chief Executive (scion of the company’s founder) from the board after he made public his desire to bid for the company.

Why the Deal Fell Through

Acquiring Qualcomm would have greatly expanded Broadcom’s position in smartphone and cellular communications chips. However, there is a technology arms race occurring between the United States and China over the future of 5G, and Qualcomm is the designated American champion in this race. America has held its own in 4G innovation but has fallen behind Asian countries in the application of 5G. 5G is touted as the fifth generation of mobile networking technology that will power a new wave of innovative services and applications; think self-driving cars and IoT devices. Although currently there is no defined standard for 5G, it promises to be a faster communications medium than current 4G technology.

The U.S. government and other Western industry CEOs fear that if China gains the lead in 5G technology, then China will gain a technology edge in the next wave of products that will take advantage of the faster speeds and interconnectivity; cyber-espionage tools included.

“China, under President Xi Jinping, has launched an ambitious plan to dominate mobile technology, supercomputers, artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge industries, putting huge resources behind an effort that it considers crucial to the country’s government, military and economy. Beijing wants to build its own technology champions and is encouraging companies to acquire the engineering, expertise and intellectual property from big rivals in the United States and elsewhere.” – New York Times. March 6, 2018

Although Broadcom has stated that it wouldn’t sell “any critical national security assets to any foreign companies”, its private equity reputation of cutting research and development to boost profitability caused more harm than good. The bottom line is that a takeover of an American firm by a perceived foreign competitor with a reputation for cutting research and development, risks strengthening Chinese competitors like Huawei and Xiaomi. The perceived political and national security ramifications of this scenario were deemed unacceptable.

It is for this reason that the biggest merger in the history of technology never happened.

References:

CNBC. March 1, 2018. Beware, Qualcomm: Broadcom is used to winning battles with hostility, as Amazon knows. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/01/broadcom-ceo-hock-tan-aggressive-negotiations-with-amazon-hpe-others.html

The Economist. Nov 9th 2017. Broadcom’s $130bn Qualcomm bid highlights a ruthless chip industry. https://www.economist.com/news/business/21731121-worlds-biggest-ever-technology-deal-would-face-antitrust-scrutiny-globally-broadcoms-130bn

The Economist. Jan 28th, 2017. Qualcomm is again under attack for living large off its patent portfolio. Its biggest customer, Apple, is suing it for $1bn. https://www.economist.com/news/business/21715705-its-biggest-customer-apple-suing-it-1bn-qualcomm-again-under-attack-living

McKinsey&Company. McKinsey on Semiconductors. Autumn 2013. https://www.mckinsey.com/client_service/semiconductors/~/media/32ae520663114c6eb1250bbdb92673c2.ashx

The Motley Fool. Feb 21,2017. Here’s Why Qualcomm, Inc.’s Research and Development Spending Dropped in 2016. https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/02/21/heres-why-qualcomm-incs-research-and-development-s.aspx

New York Times. March 6, 2018. The New U.S.-China Rivalry: A Technology Race. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/business/us-china-trade-technology-deals.html

New York Times. March 7, 2018. Broadcom’s Other Regulatory Hurdle: How It Treats Customers. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/technology/broadcom-qualcomm-customers.html

Rothaermel, Frank T. 2015. Strategic Management 2nd Edition. New York: McGrawHill, Irwin (2nd edition).

Wall Street Journal. March 6, 2018. Qualcomm’s Spending Buys the Right Friends. https://www.wsj.com/articles/qualcomms-spending-buys-the-right-friends-1520366524?tesla=y

Wall Street Journal. March 9th, 2018. Intel May Intervene in Broadcom’s Effort to Buy Qualcomm. https://www.wsj.com/articles/intel-considers-possible-bid-for-broadcom-1520633986

Wall Street Journal. March 19, 2018. Qualcomm Evaded Broadcom’s Bid; Now, CEO Has a Lot to Prove. Fending off Broadcom still leaves the chip giant with patent disputes and a takeover fight from within. https://www.wsj.com/articles/qualcomm-ceo-steve-mollenkopf-faces-fights-on-many-fronts-1521457200

Copyright: gmast3r / 123RF Stock Photo

Penetration Testing: The Legal Way to Hack

The penetration test is the activity in which a security vendor or white hat hacker will deploy their skills acquired from training, certification and practical experience. The aim of the penetration test is to discover system or network vulnerabilities and exploit those vulnerabilities with the consent of the system owner(s). The penetration test scans for vulnerabilities and looks to actively exploit any uncovered vulnerabilities; it is a complement to the vulnerability scanners used during a vulnerability assessment. The penetration test helps identify which vulnerabilities are real and discern whether they can actually be exploited. “Vulnerability scanners can tell what potential risks are, but pen tests can provide the actual facts about the risks, including if they are exploitable and what information could be exploited if they were” (Howarth, 2010a, para. 2).

There are many different flavors of pen testing. A manual or automated test may be executed. The manual test is more involved and typically more costly if an outside authority is used as it requires significantly more expertise than an automated test. The automated testing approach is carried out via the logic, rules and or AI embedded in a software product. One such commercial product on the market is SAINTexploit, which not only exposes vulnerability points but also exploits those vulnerabilities to prove their existence. SC Magazine for security professionals rates SAINTexploit as an overall 4.75/5 star product for automated penetration testing. The annual cost of the product is $8,745 for 1,000 unique targets; the product must be renewed annually for continued usage (Stephenson, P., 2013). “Automated tools can provide a lot of genuinely good information, but are also susceptible to false positives and false negatives, and they don’t necessarily care what your agreed-upon scope says is your stopping point” (Walker, M., 2013, Chapter 11).

The two types of penetration testing as defined by the EC-Council (the certification body for the Certified Ethical Hacker designation) are external and internal. External assessments test and analyze publicly available information, as well as conduct scanning and exploits from outside the network perimeter. The internal assessment is the opposite and is performed from within the network perimeter.

The concept of black, white and grey box testing also come into play with respect to determining what information is known beforehand in order to carry out the penetration test. Walker (2013) notes that in a black box test the attacker has no information of the system or infrastructure beforehand. The black box test requires the longest to accomplish and is the closest simulation to an actual attack. White box testing simulates an insider with complete knowledge of the systems and infrastructure, who carries out the penetration test. Finally the grey box test provides limited information on the targeted systems and/or infrastructure.

Another parameter that can make the pen test more closely resemble real world conditions is the incorporation of social engineering. The white hat is given permission to use phishing attacks in order to gain access to passwords or other sensitive information. With phishing, the ethical hacker can design any number of email messages, websites, or even utilize phone calls under false pretenses in order to get a user to install malicious software or hand over sensitive information. The organization can gauge the results of these controlled social engineering attacks to see which users need a refresher in the company security policy or to determine if the current security policy is effective.

An organization carrying out an external penetration test by using an outside company should have the scope and the rules of the test clearly defined in contractual or service level agreement terms. In the event of a disruption of service or any other catastrophic event, both parties should know ahead the responsible party for correcting any issues. Graves (2010, Chapter 15) asserts that the documents necessary to have signed from the client before conducting a white hat a penetration test are:

  • “Scope of work, to identify what is to be tested”
  • “Nondisclosure agreement, in case the tester sees confidential information”
  • “Liability release, releasing the ethical hacker from any actions or disruption of service caused by the pen test”

Although penetration testing is widely used by organizations to test for system, network or human vulnerabilities there are some limitations to their effectiveness. All of the potential varying client parameters around the pen test (e.g. financial systems are out of scope, no social engineering, etc..) can work to hide exploits that would still be vulnerable to an actual black hat attack. Real world attacks can use a combination of social engineering, physical, and electronic methods often coordinated by an experienced team. The aforementioned combination of methods and expertise is very hard to simulate in a controlled environment. “The [enterprise’s] board and other stakeholders will not care about a clean network pen test if an attacker enters the building and, through a combination of social engineering and other low-tech gadgets like the hidden camera tie, steals your protected information” (Barr, J., 2012b).

References:

Barr, J. G. (a) (November 2012). Recruiting Cyber Security Professionals. Faulkner Information Services. Retrieved March 23, 2013

Graves, K. CEH—Certified Ethical Hacker—Study Guide. Sybex. © 2010. Books24x7. Retrieved March 24, 2013

Howarth.F. (2010). (a) Emerging Hacker Attacks. Faulkner Information Services. Retrieved April 17th, 2013

Stephenson, P. (2013). SAINTmanager/SAINTscanner/SAINTexploit v7.14 Retrieved March 23, 2013 from http://www.scmagazine.com/saintmanagersaintscannersaintexploit-v714/review/3797/

Walker, M. CEH Certified Ethical Hacker: All-in-One Exam Guide. McGraw-Hill/Osborne, © 2012. Books24x7. Retrieved Mar. 24, 2013

Create a Hex Map in Tableau the Easy Way

There are may different ways to create a hex map in Tableau. The hex map helps visualize state geographic data at the same size which helps to overcome discrepancies that make smaller states harder to interpret. Also, larger states (e.g. Alaska) can overwhelm a traditional map with their size.

I’ve found that the quickest and easiest way to build a hex map is to leverage a pre-built shape file. Shape files can be found at various open data sources like census.gov or data.gov.

In this video I will use a shape file created by Tableau Zen Master Joshua Milligan who runs the blog vizpainter.com. He has a blog post where you can download the shape file I reference. Hats off to Joshua for creating and sharing this great shape file!

Tableau Quadrant Analysis Part 2: Dynamic Quadrants

There are a couple of tweaks that can be made to the Quadrant Analysis video I showed you earlier. We can enhance upon the first iteration of the analysis by making the visualization interactive. I will create parameter driven quadrants where the reference lines are not static at a 50% intersection.

You can tweak the instructions to suit your actual visualization as necessary, but the concepts will remain the same.

We’re going to create two new parameters and have those parameters dynamically control the placement of our reference lines. Then we’re going to update the calculated field which defines the color of each data point or mark, with the parameters we created. In this manner, the colors of each mark will dynamically update as the references lines are adjusted.

To put this in English, as you change the parameter values, the reference lines will move and the mark colors will update.

Watch the video above and/or follow along with the instructions below.

Remove Existing Reference Lines:

Step 1:

  • Remove all existing reference lines from the original quadrant analysis. Simply right click on a reference line and select “Remove”.
  • Also remove the annotations from the 4 quadrants.

Create Parameters

Step 2:

  • Create a parameter named “Percentile FG Pct” (without quotes). Select the dropdown triangle next to “Find Field” icon and choose “Create Parameter”.

QA2

Make sure your parameter is setup as a “Float” and the Range of values reflects the picture below. The Display Format will be set as “Percentage” with zero decimal places.

QA3.png

Step 3: Duplicate Your Parameter

  • Right click on your new parameter and select “Duplicate”.
  • Right click on “Percentile Wins” and select “Edit”.
  • Name the new parameter “Percentile Wins”.

Step 4: Show the Parameters Controls

  • Right click on each parameter and select “Show Parameter Control”.
  • Right click on each drop down triangle in the upper right corner of the Parameter Control and select “Slider”.

QA4

Step 5: Add Reference Lines

  • Right click on the Percentile of FG% Axis at the bottom of the viz. Select “Add Reference Line”. The Line Value should refer to the X axis parameter (i.e. Percentile FG Pct). For the Line Formatting I choose the third dashed lined option.

QA5

  • Right click on the Percentile of Wins Axis on the left side of the viz. Select “Add Reference Line”. The Line Value should refer to the Y axis parameter (i.e. Percentile of Wins).

At this point you should have two parameter controls that adjust the placement of the respective reference lines on the visualization.

However, you’ll notice that the colors of the marks do not change as the reference lines move in increments.

Step 6: Edit the original calculated field to use parameters instead of hardcoded percentage values

Right click on the calculated field (i.e. “Color Calc” in my case), select “Edit” and change all references of “.5” to the corresponding parameter name.

  • The original calculated field:

IF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) >= .5 AND RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) >= .5 THEN ‘TOP RIGHT’

ELSEIF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) < .5 and RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) >= .5 THEN ‘TOP LEFT’

ELSEIF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) < .5 and RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) < .5 THEN ‘BOTTOM LEFT’

ELSEIF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) >= .5 and RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) < .5 THEN ‘BOTTOM RIGHT’

ELSE ‘OTHER’

END

Is edited to become:

IF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) >= [Percentile FG Pct] AND RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) >= [Percentile Wins] THEN ‘TOP RIGHT’

ELSEIF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) < [Percentile FG Pct] and RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) >= [Percentile Wins] THEN ‘TOP LEFT’

ELSEIF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) < [Percentile FG Pct] and RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) < [Percentile Wins] THEN ‘BOTTOM LEFT’

ELSEIF RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([FG%])) >= [Percentile FG Pct] and RANK_PERCENTILE(SUM([Wins])) < [Percentile Wins] THEN ‘BOTTOM RIGHT’

ELSE ‘OTHER’

END

In the above formula both [Percentile FG Pct] and [Percentile Wins] are parameter values that have replaced the hardcoded values of “.5”.

Final Result:

As you change your parameter values on the parameter control, the corresponding reference line moves and the color of each mark changes automatically to fit its new quadrant.

QA8

Before w/ Static Quadrants

Notice how the marks are colored according to their respective quadrant in the screen print below.

QA7

After w/ Parameter Driven Quadrants

I hope you enjoyed this tip. Now, get out there and do some good things with your data!

Anthony Smoak

Quadrant Analysis in Tableau

Release your inner Gartner and learn how to create a 2×2 matrix in Tableau. In this video I will perform a quadrant analysis in Tableau using NBA data to plot FG% vs Wins. Since the data points will be compact, we’ll use percentiles to expand the data and create a calculated field to color the data points per respective quadrant.

Make sure to check out part 2 of this series where I will show you how to make the quadrant boundaries interactive.

If you’re interested in Business Intelligence & Tableau subscribe and check out my videos either here on this site or on my Youtube channel.

The Definitive Walmart Technology Review

Did you know that the legal name “Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.” was changed effective Feb. 1, 2018 to “Walmart Inc.”? The name change is intended to reflect the fact that today’s customers don’t just shop in stores.

I’ve kept an eye on Walmart because historically the company was the leading innovator in regard to advancing retail focused technology and supply chain strategy. Even though Walmart isn’t the typical “underdog”, in the fight for online retail supremacy it currently finds itself in this position; and everyone can appreciate an underdog (see Philadelphia Eagles). Currently Walmart is locked in a fierce battle with Amazon to carve out a more substantial space in digital and online retail. As such, the company is bolstering its capabilities by focusing on technology enabled business processes, training and digital growth to keep pace with Amazon’s world domination efforts.

Walmart is experimenting with cutting edge technology such as virtual reality, autonomous robots, cloud storage platforms, cashier-less stores and even blockchain. It’s also formed various online retail and technology-based alliances to keep pace with Team Bezos. Walmart’s kitchen sink technology strategy seems to be paying dividends from an online sales perspective. E-Commerce industry luminary Marc Lore and his influence can been seen in some of the innovative technology plays.

Blockchain

Walmart, yes Walmart is getting in on the blockchain ledger revolution (or hype). The company plans to team up with IBM, JD.com and Chinese based Tsinghua University to create a blockchain food safety alliance.

Here is how the partnership will work according to ZDNet:

  • Walmart, JD, IBM and Tsinghua University will work with regulators and the food supply chain to develop standards and partnerships for safety.
  • IBM provides its blockchain platform
  • Tsinghua University is the technical advisor and will provide expertise in technology and China’s food safety ecosystem.
  • Walmart and JD will help develop and optimize technology that can be rolled out to suppliers and retailers.

Walmart has shown that blockchain technology has reduced the time it takes to trace food from farm to store from days to seconds. During product recalls this capability could prove useful for the retailer.

If Walmart were to offer a more investor appealing use of blockchain (e.g. a “Sam’s-Coin” ICO), you could count me in for a high two figure investment.

Ok Google

Goole Home Walmart

Image courtesy of ZDNet

Straight from “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” playbook, Walmart and Google announced a partnership to make Walmart’s items available on Google’s shopping service, Google Express.

The New York Times reports that “it’s the first time the world’s biggest retailer has made its products available online in the United States outside of its own website”. We can readily see what Walmart gets out of the alliance (expanded presence on the dominant search engine) but interpreting Google’s angle requires a bit more perspicacity.

Google fears that its search engine is being bypassed by consumers who go straight to Walmart to search for products. Google, (you may have heard) dabbles a bit in search and online advertising. A substantial shift in product search behavior that favors Amazon is bad for business. If Google can expand its own online marketplace with Walmart’s appreciable offerings as well as entice customers to use Google Home and the mobile based Google Assistant to locate products, then the company can retain a greater share of initial product searches. Google Express already offers products from Walmart competitors Target and Costco although Walmart’s collaboration offers the largest number of items.

“Walmart customers can link their accounts to Google, allowing the technology giant to learn their past shopping behavior to better predict what they want in the future. Google said that because more than 20 percent of searches conducted on smartphones these days are done by voice, it expects voice-based shopping to be not far behind.”

An existing Walmart application feature called “Easy Reorder” is slated for integration with voice enabled shopping via Google Assistant. Currently, when a consumer logs into the Walmart mobile app, they can easily see their most frequently purchased in-store and online items and easily reorder those items. Integration with Google Express provides an additional data channel to bolster the effectiveness of this Walmart offering.

The Matrix:

Virtual reality would not be the first technology play that one would likely associate with Walmart. However, the company’s tech incubator (Store No. 8) has purchased Spatialand, a VR development tools company. Spatialand has previously worked with Oculus, Intel and “rap rock” artists Linkin Park to create virtual content.

Walmart’s intent is to use Spatialand to develop “immersive retail environments”. My expectations aren’t high that this acquisition will pay off in the near to medium term, but the company is demonstrating that it is trying to be on the vanguard of future retail technology. One can imagine this acquisition eventually enabling Star Trek “holodeck” capabilities where customers can enter virtual stores or dressing rooms and interact with products while in the comfort of their homes.

I propose that Spatialand and Walmart owned Bonobos would make ideal mash-up partners. Instead of trekking to a physical Bonobos store and trying on shirts and or slacks, consumers can create an avatar with similar dimensions and play virtual dress-up in 3D. The garments can then be shipped directly.

Additionally, Walmart is actually using Oculus headsets to train employees at its 170 training academies. The company has partnered with STRIVR, a virtual reality startup based in Menlo Park. I envision virtual customers stampeding through entrances on a Black Friday opening.

“STRIVR’s technology allows employees to experience real-world scenarios through the use of an Oculus headset, so that employees can prepare for situations like dealing with holiday rush crowds or cleaning up a mess in an aisle.”

There’s an App for That:

Walmart is trying to balance keeping its in-store traffic high while accommodating its growing mobile customer base. The company recently enhanced its Walmart application with a new “Store Assistant” feature that activates when a customer walks in the door. The app will allow customers to build shopping lists, calculate costs and locate in-store items at all of its domestic locations.

“So-called mobile commerce revenue — mostly generated via smartphones — will reach $208 billion, an annual increase of 40 percent, EMarketer forecasts.” – Bloomberg

Channeling its inner Tim Cook, Walmart launched a nationwide rollout of the Walmart Pay system as an additional application enhancement.

“To use the three-step payment system, shoppers link their chosen payment method to their Walmart.com account, open the camera on their smartphone and snap a photo of a QR code at the register. That notifies the app to process the customer’s payment. Shoppers can link their credit or debit cards, prepaid accounts or Wal-Mart gift cards to their payments; however, they still cannot use ApplePay.” – CNBC

Rise of the Machines:

As labor costs rise and technology increases, we can be sure of one thing. Robots are coming to take all of our jobs and Walmart isn’t doing much to disabuse us of this notion. As part of a pilot, the company is employing autonomous robots to about 50 locations to help perform “repeatable, predictable and manual” tasks. Primary tasks include scanning store shelves for missing stock, inventory calculations and locating mislabeled and unlabeled products. The robots stay docked in charging stations inside the store until they are activated and given an autonomous “mission”.

According to Reuters, Walmart’s CTO Jeremy King states that the robots are 50% more productive and can scan shelves three times faster at a higher accuracy. Walmart’s current carbon-based units (my words) can only scan the shelves about twice a week.

While Walmart insists that the robots won’t lead to job losses, I say to remember that technology always marches forward. Today’s “repeatable, predictable and manual” tasks are tomorrow’s non-repeatable, unpredictable and automated tasks.

Walmart scanner

Image courtesy of Walmart

Additionally, in 2016 the company “patented a system based on mini-robots that can control shopping carts, as well as complete a long list of duties once reserved for human employees.” Keep an eye on those robots as Walmart does not have a reputation for overstaffing.

In all seriousness, shelf inventory checks ensure that customer dollars aren’t left on the table due to un-shelved items. If Walmart can significantly lower the occurrences of un-shelved products with its army of shelf scanning Daleks, then the robots will pay for themselves.

Mr. Drone and Me

walmart drones

Never missing an opportunity to improve supply chain efficiency, reduce labor costs and keep pace with Amazon, Walmart is experimenting with drones. The company’s Emerging Science division has been tasked to consider future applications of drone technology to enhance operational efficiency.

Currently, inventory tracking at the company’s fulfillment centers requires employees to use lifts, harnesses and hand-held scanning devices to traverse 1.2 million square feet (26 football fields) of warehouse space; a process that can take up to a month to complete. If you consider that Walmart has close to 190 distribution centers domestically, the inventory process consumes a significant amount of labor hours when aggregated across the company.

The current plan is to utilize fully automated quad-copter drones mounted with cameras to scan the entire warehouse for inventory monitoring and error checking.

“The camera is linked to a control center and scans for tracking number matches. Matches are registered as green, empty spaces as blue, and mismatches as red. An employee monitors the drone’s progress from a computer screen.”

Drones would eventually replace the inventory quality assurance employees.

Millenial Digs:

Walmart Austin ATX
The lobby at Walmart ATX in downtown Austin. Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

In an effort to increase its appeal to the young, hip and tech savvy, Walmart has opened a new engineering tech design center in Austin. The new millennial digs are located in a renovated 8,000 square foot space. “Walmart ATX” will house minds that work with cutting edge technology such as machine learning, artificial Intelligence, blockchain, internet of things and other emerging technologies. Factors such as a deep talent pool and low cost of living drove the creation of this Austin hub.

Here’s hoping Amazon decides to stay far away from its retail rival and brings its talents to Atlanta, Georgia.

E-Books

The saying goes that Amazon is trying to become more like Walmart and Walmart is trying to become more like Amazon. Walmart teaming up with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten to sell e-books solidifies this sentiment. It should go without saying that Amazon has a sizable lead in selling e-books. However, Walmart is leaving no stone unturned as far as offering products that keep e-commerce shoppers from Amazon’s web presence.

Online Grocery Pickup:

Walmart is experimenting with allowing customers to place their orders online for pickup at a local store. The scheme currently requires the company’s human employees (eventually robots) to walk the aisles using a handheld device in order to fulfill customer orders. The device acts as an in-store GPS that maps the most efficient route to assemble the customer order.

Customers then pull into a designated pickup area where live human beings (eventually robots) will dispense the pre-assembled order.

I’m not kidding about “eventually robots” dispensing the pre-assembled order. Walmart currently has an automated kiosk in Oklahoma City that dispenses customer orders from internal bins. Customers walk up to the interface and input a code which then enables the kiosk to retrieve the order. Hal, open the pod bay doors; the future is here and apparently its name is Oklahoma City.

Walmart kiosk

Courtesy of The Oklahoman

These approaches address the “last mile” problem which plagues large e-commerce players and start-ups alike. As consumer preferences shift from physical stores to online channels, repurposing stores into dual e-commerce fulfillment centers wrings additional utility from these assets.

In Home Delivery:

Another innovative e-commerce “Last Mile” proposal from Walmart involves the creation of a smart home delivery pilot. By partnering with a smart lock startup company August Home, outsourced delivery drivers will be supplied a one-time passkey entry into a customer’s home to unload cold and frozen groceries into the refrigerator. The home owner is alerted via phone notification that the driver has entered their property and can watch the in-home delivery livestreamed from security cameras. An additional notification is sent to the consumer when the door has automatically locked. This limited scale program is only being piloted in Silicon Valley (of course).

Per the Washington post:

“This is a group of people who are already used to a certain level of intrusiveness.. But God help the teenager playing hooky or the family dog who’s not expecting the delivery man.”

I can envision a future sci-fi use case involving “smart fridges” and automatic home replenishments. This pilot move is a search for an advantage in grocery delivery as Amazon recently purchased Whole Foods without overtly signaling what disruptive services may emerge from the amalgamation.

Smart Cart Technology

Jet Smart Cart

When Walmart made the largest ever purchase of a U.S. e-commerce startup with Jet.com for $3.3 billion, the company was looking for a way to ramp up online sales and infuse itself with fresh perspectives for online selling.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Jet.com has the potential to infuse Walmart with much needed digital innovation. This fresh perspective has the potential to add tremendous value to the organization as a whole. The “old guard” rooted in Walmart’s core business model needs to allow acquisitions to thrive instead of imposing the more conservative legacy culture.

The Jet infusion of innovative ideas back to the mothership is happening. Current Walmart e-commerce head Marc Lore launched Jet.com around an innovative “smart cart” system that offers the potential of lowering the price of customer orders. Here is how it works according to Forbes:

“If you have two items in your cart which are both located in the same distribution center and can both fit into a single box, then you will pay one low price. If you add a third item that is located at a different distribution center and cannot be shipped in a single shot with the other two items, you will pay more. As you shop on the site, additional items that can be bundled most efficiently with your existing order are flagged as ‘smart items’ and an icon shows how much more you’ll save on your total order by buying them.”

The order price can be further lowered if customers use a debit card or decline returns. This smart cart process is expected to launch on Walmart’s flagship site in 2018.

Who Needs Cashiers?

Customers shopping at roughly 100 stores across 33 states can participate in Walmart’s “Scan and Go” service. Via a dedicated mobile app, customers can scan the barcodes of items as they shop, pay through the app using Walmart Pay, and then exit the store after showing a digital receipt to an employee. As customers shop and scan with their phones, they can observe the running total of their purchases. This service is currently available at all Sam’s Club locations.

In this case Walmart is keeping pace with grocery competitor Kroger which is also experimenting with digital checkout experiences. Kroger has a “Scan, Bag & Go” service rolling out at 400 grocery chains.

Additionally, Walmart’s skunkworks retail division “Store No. 8” is working on a futuristic project codenamed “Project Kepler”. This initiative goes a step further and eliminates both cashiers and checkout lines by using a combination of advanced imaging technology on par with Amazon’s “Amazon Go” concept. As customers take items off of shelves, they are automatically billed for their purchase as they walk out of the store. The Jet.com acquisition is in play here as this initiative is being led by Jet’s CTO Mike Hanrahan.

Grocers already operate on razor thin margins therefore removing cashier interaction from the shopping equation fits in with the goal of lowering labor costs. Walmart employs approximately 2 million reasons to turn this future technology into reality.

Send in the Clouds:

According to the Wall Street Journal, Walmart is telling some of its technology vendors that if they want to continue being a technical supplier then they cannot run applications for the retailer on the leading cloud computing service, Amazon Web Services. Vendors who do not comply run the risk of losing key Walmart business. This is where we open our strategy textbooks to Porter’s Five Forces and key in on “Bargaining Power of Buyers” in the retail information technology provider space. The Economist reports that in 2015 Walmart poured a staggering $10.5 billion into information technology, more than any other company on the planet. To misquote E.F. Hutton, when Walmart speaks, you listen if you’re a technology vendor. The company’s cloud ultimatum is responsible for an uptick in usage of Microsoft’s Azure offering.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Walmart is known for its “build not buy” philosophy in regard to technology. Most of its data is housed on its own servers or Microsoft Azure which is the primary infrastructure provider for e-commerce subsidiary Jet.com. According to CNBC, about 80 percent of Walmart’s cloud network is now in-house.

Walmart’s cloud application development is facilitated by the company’s own open source cloud application development platform named OneOps. The aim of OneOps is to allow users to deploy applications across multiple cloud providers (i.e. allow users to easily move away from Amazon Web Services). Walmart has also been a huge contributor to OpenStack, which is an open source cloud offering and has been working with Microsoft, CenturyLink and Rackspace.

OneOps was originally developed by Walmart Labs and has since been released as an open source project so that Walmart can benefit from a broader community that’s willing to offer improvements. The main codebase is currently available on GitHub (https://github.com/oneops/).

Foreign Investment:

flipkart

 

Walmart is currently challenging tech titans Amazon and China’s Alibaba for a lucrative stake in India’s burgeoning online retail market. India’s expanding middle class makes its online market a lucrative target. The market is purported to reach $220 billion by 2025 according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Walmart is essentially barred from outright owning physical store locations in India due to the country’s restrictive foreign investment regulations. Foreign ownership for multi-brand retailers is limited to 51% and retailers must source 30% of its goods from small suppliers which poses a difficulty for Walmart. Walmart uses its global buying power to squeeze deep discounts from major suppliers such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble. Smaller Indian firms will have more difficulty yielding to exorbitant price concessions.

Therefore, Walmart is currently in talks to purchase a sizable stake in Indian online retailer Flipkart. Flipkart is a highly attractive opportunity because it has been able to effectively compete with Amazon in India despite being outspent by Team Bezos. Flipkart currently has a 44% market share in India which is running ahead of Amazon’s share at 31%. Walmart’s multibillion dollar investment will likely value Flipkart at $20 to 23 billion.

An infusion of capital from Walmart makes sense for both parties; Flipkart can hold off attacks from Amazon while Walmart gets a piece of the action in a growing and lucrative online market. Amazon has stated its intention to invest $5 billion in India in order to beef up the number of its fulfillment centers. Ironically, Flipkart was launched in 2007 by two former Amazon employees, Sachin and Binny Bansal.

Walmart isn’t the only company looking for a piece of Flipkart as Google is also purported to make a sizable investment in the Indian firm at a valuation of $15 to $16 billion.

Walmart has had difficulties operating in India previously as evidenced by its now disbanded partnership with Bharti Enterprises. The two companies built 20 superstores branded as Best Price Modern Wholesale, but the venture fizzled due to aforementioned regulatory restrictions.

Meanwhile in China, Walmart partnered with JD.com which is a fierce Alibaba rival. Walmart and JD will merge their membership systems, so members can receive similar discounts at both retailers. In addition, the two companies will jointly work to create a system that enables JD.com to fulfill customer orders from Walmart inventories. Walmart initially had its own Chinese marketplace named Yihaodian but sold it to JD in 2016 due to its small market share in comparison to both JD and Alibaba.

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Advanced Bar Chart Labeling in Tableau

Here is a quick and easy, yet advanced tip for placing your labels just to the inside of your bar chart. This tip will provide you another alignment option in addition to the default ones. Credit to Andy Kriebel for the tip.

If you’re interested in Business Intelligence & Tableau subscribe and check out my videos either here on this site or on my Youtube channel.

My Journey to Obtaining the Certified Business Information Professional (CBIP) Certification

As of the date of this blog post I can proudly say that I have completed the certification suite of exams that comprise the Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) designation. My aim in taking the test was threefold.

  1. Discover how my knowledge and experience stacked up against professional standards issued by a reputable body in data and computing.
  2. Find additional motivation to constantly educate myself regarding data and business intelligence since the certification requires renewal.
  3. Bolster credentials, because it never hurts one’s bottom line to show you have expertise in your profession.

If you’ve found this page via search, you’re no doubt already acquainted with this certification offered by The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI). I started with what I though would be the most difficult test based upon what I have researched; the Information Systems Core (i.e. IS Core). However, this was not the case as the specialty exam was the most difficult in my opinion.

Test 1: Information Systems Core (i.e. IS Core):

12/15/17: I wish I could share some detailed information about the test but that is not allowed per CBIP guidelines. All I can say is that the scope of information covered is very broad.

“The IS Core examination (Information Systems Technology) covers the base 4 year model curriculum from ACM and AIS for information systems – the entire spectrum of organizational and professional skills, teams and supervision, strategic organizational systems development and project management, systems development, web development, databases and systems integration – the subject matter, testing your ability to recognize, differentiate, and understand the definitions of the concepts covered.” – CBIP Examinations Guide

For adequate preparation, you’ll first need to spend $135 on the examinations guide. Unfortunately, the examinations guide is not something you can simply study and then go sit for the test. It is basically a reference book that points you to other sources to consider for test preparation. The guide also outlines the various subject areas that will appear on the test. Let me stress that you should not sit for this test without pertinent work experience and education. You will need to draw upon your knowledge and experiences to have a legitimate shot at passing.

My intent was to devote about 3 weeks’ worth of study time to tackle the IS Core but my work severely got in the way of that plan. I ended up devoting only ten hours of study time in total, but this was certainly not by design.

First I took the sample test of 42 questions in the examinations guide and fared pretty well. This gave me some confidence to continue with my scheduled exam date when I found out that my work was going to shorten my available study time.

The test was difficult. I’m not going to sugar coat this aspect. While I was taking the proctored exam, I could count on two hands where I was confident that I had chosen the correct answer (out of 110 questions). Part of the difficulty of the exam is the fact that you are presented with 4 choices where at least two of these choices could be a satisfactory answer.

Test 2: Data Foundations

12/31/17: I performed much better on the Data Foundations test, scoring well above the mastery level threshold of 70%. I was buoyed by my performance on the Information Systems Core test and only scheduled about 10 hours of study time in preparation for Data Foundations. I used one reference book to prepare. My advice for this test would be to have an understanding of metadata concepts; (this is listed as a subject area already cited in the CBIP Examinations Guide). Make the DAMA Guide to the Data Management Body of Knowledge your best friend. I used the 1st edition in lieu of the 2nd edition in my preparation since I already had the 1st edition in my possession.

Test 3: Specialty Exam: Data Management

1/14/18: This was the most difficult of the three exams that I sat. It may have been a function of my limited preparation as I only put in about 3 hours of study time. The scope of topics regarding this exam is so broad that I planned to again leverage my experience and knowledge to power me through. The majority of questions on this exam required narrowing down the answers to the two best answers and then selecting one. There is a persistent overlap between what could be acceptable and what the exam decrees is the one right answer. I’m not giving away anything that isn’t already on the outline shared by TDWI but you’ll really need to brush up on your knowledge of data governance, data management, data warehousing and master/reference data.

My Background:

Not to be immodest (I only want to share my mindset for sitting the exam with somewhat minimal study) but I’ve been working with data for 15 plus years and hold both an MBA and a Masters in Information Management. Before becoming a BI/data and analytics consultant, I worked back office in a bank supporting the monthly update of three credit risk data marts. Thankfully all of that hard gained experience working in a financial institution’s back office paid-off. Surprisingly, the number of right answers I gained from study time were minimal. Your mileage may vary in this regard.

Reference Material:

Here are the reference materials I used in my preparation; fortunately, (with the exception of the CBIP manual) I already had these in my library due to graduate studies. Depending upon your level of experience, you may need to supplement your effort with additional books. I will say that both Wikipedia and Search Business Analytics were very helpful for looking up unfamiliar terms.

 

Best of luck to you on your journey to CBIP certification!

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