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James Serra's Blog

James is currently a Senior Business Intelligence Architect/Developer and has over 20 years of IT experience. James started his career as a software developer, then became a DBA 12 years ago, and for the last five years he has been working extensively with Business Intelligence using the SQL Server BI stack (SSAS, SSRS, and SSIS). James has been at times a permanent employee, consultant, contractor, and owner of his own business. All these experiences along with continuous learning has helped James to develop many successful data warehouse and BI projects. James has earned the MCITP Business Developer 2008, MCITP Database Administrator 2008, and MCITP Database Developer 2008, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering. His blog is at .

“DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role” Presentation Slides

Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation “DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role” at the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter.  The recording of the session will be available here in the next day or two.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation: DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role

I had some excellent questions at the end of the session, and here is more follow-up to my answers:

  1. Any recommended books? This is a must read: The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit: With SQL Server 2008 R2 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset by Ralph Kimball.  This is the bible for building BI projects.  Your first step should be to read this book.  I can’t believe I forgot to mention it!
  2. Do Microsoft certifications help? They are a great way to learn about BI and may help to make you stand out when looking for a BI opportunity.  More info here and here
  3. How much knowledge of business processes is beneficial to being effective with BI?  I have never had any business management courses.  I have learned those things on the various project I have been on.  If you can learn about accounting either on the job or off hours, that would help as many BI projects deal with financial data and understanding that would be a plus.  However, many times I have jumped into a new project not knowing anything about the business (i.e. Oil and Gas, Stock exchange, Healthcare) and learned as I went.  Most projects will not expect you to know the business – they just want you to know BI and will let you learn the business part.  If you are a quick learner, you will be fine.  And the best way to become a quick learner is to be constantly learning!

DBA: Transitioning to a BI Role

Business Intelligence is an extremely hot career. If you are a DBA, how can you transition to a BI role? James Serra will describe what exactly BI is, what encompasses the Microsoft BI stack, why it is so popular, and why a BI career pays so much. Then James will delve into the steps to take to become a BI expert and how he made the transition.


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