Orrin Edenfield is the author of the Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst Study Guide. We got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: What are your specialist tech area(s)?
Orrin: Enterprise data and analytics.
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Orrin: In recent years I’ve entertained the idea of writing a book as a way to help the broader data and analytics community so when I was approached by a Packt editor on LinkedIn with the idea I was very interested. With over 20 years of experience as a technologist, I do feel like I have insights to share and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
O: I’ve been a Power BI user since it was an add-in for Excel so when it comes to research on the topic of Power BI, I’ve been doing that for years now. Preparing for the book I reviewed my own study notes for the (then) DA-100 exam as well as reviewing any latest changes to the exam topics.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
O: Challenges for me revolved around time management as I do have a wife and two kids who also demand my time in addition to my full-time job at Microsoft. Additionally, I am also taking a higher-learning class that requires me to complete assignments and write papers. Effective time management is very important.
Q. What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
O: Microsoft Power BI is a key component of analytics and reporting at Microsoft, and I think this technology will continue to advance in capabilities while at the same time becoming easier to use and allowing more users to build analytics and gain insights from data.
Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
O: The unique perspective of two authors who have years of experience with Power BI and passing Microsoft exams sets this book apart from competitors on the market. Combined, we have decades of experience helping customers solve analytics challenges.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
O: For new data analysts, the Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst exam is a great place to start when it comes to proving skill and credentials in using Power BI to unlock insights from data. For experienced data analysts the exam is also a great tool to show up-to-date and continued knowledge and skill when it comes to Power BI as the technology keeps changing and advancing in capabilities.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
O: Stay up to date. Read blogs and documentation as the technology changes (sometimes weekly) and it’s important to be aware of changes that happen with technology and services.
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
O: Power BI blog: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-gb/blog/, Chris Webb’s blog: https://blog.crossjoin.co.uk/.
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
O: I’ve belonged to a number over the years but in recent years I’ve had personal changes that moved me out of the country (and taking my time, like writing a book) and I’m still in the process of getting plugged in. So no, not anything external to my employer (Microsoft) at the moment.
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
O: Working with Packt has been a great experience. I’ve learned much about how important it is to use metadata (styling) on the text being written. I would highly recommend Packt to aspiring authors as they’ve been very helpful with my questions along the journey.
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
O: Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/news.
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
O: The outline has been key to keeping me on topic for each chapter. I’ve also used a spreadsheet to keep track of where each chapter is at each stage (PD, PD Review, PD changes, TR Review, TR changes, FD, etc.).
Q. What is the one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
A: Spend more time on the outline and make sure that is iron-clad and break down the work, (even sub-chapter) to make writing each topic easier as you have time.
You can follow Orrin on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Github.