Sunday, March 20, 2011

What is the balance of your personal brand in Business Intelligence?

Why a personal brand? A brand lets other people identify themselves with what we sell or service, in particular a personal brand lets other people identify who we are, what we do and more importantly get insight our track record. No matter if you are in the industry or you are consultant helping other organizations implement a BI solution, your personal brand is the enabler for your continuous growth as a professional. Business Intelligence – a 10+billion USD market – is surprisingly a small community after all. Independently of the vertical (retail, life sciences, telecommunication, etc) that your company is currently doing business at, or the technology stack that you are using, most people who enter this field will remain associated with it throughout their careers. The key questions remain, how do you build a personal brand, does it depend on you an individual, on your firm, or how well the projects that you participate in are perceived? The answer is all of the above. So, if Business Intelligence bolts some of the higher failure rates for projects, the reasons been discussed on previous (and future) blogs, how can you build your personal brand in what it looks to be a highly dangerous professional mine field?
Throughout my professional career I have been associated with many organizations. While as a person I have never significantly change when I transition organizations, I have noticed that the perception of the people in the market (especially those who have not worked with me in the past) does change, sometimes quite drastically, depending on the organization that I was joining to. This is by no means bad, but it might be a challenge that you need to understand and be ready for it. It is always easier and safer to choose to associate yourself with an organization that has already a brand built, this will certainly make things easier and you will be able to do well in projects just by calling the CIO and reminding him/her of the history of the organization. However, this easiness comes at a price, you are piggybacking on the brand of the organization that you joined, which will bring you instant “fame” at the cost of sacrificing your creativity, freedom and potentially your professional values (as you will have to follow the rules of the new organization). Compared this to a situation where you join an organization with no brand, which nobody has heard of. The potential is much more: you will need all your energy, imagination and resources to propel the organization up, you will have much more control of the situation but the effort that you will have to put in will probably be orders of magnitude higher.
While the firm’s brand will certainly define you, this blog proposes that you need to change the equation so your personal brand can influence and define the firm’s. This is easier said than done; at the end of the day no single individual is responsible for the success or failure of any initiative. Granted, you can be a big influencer (either positive or negative) but at the end of the day is team work. Your personal brand is guided and defined by your leadership style. A personal brand leadership does not need to be at CXO levels to matter, but rather is connected to everything that happens in the project: an architect providing technical leadership to a development team, an analyst providing direction to the application builder, a QA lead establishing the parameters that the application will be used to be tested. All these are examples of leadership that define and shape your personal brand.
A personal brand is like a bank account, every success increments the balance, every failure is literally paid. If this is indeed the case, what is your balance today?

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