An interview with Anthony Algmin, the CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, says that “data leadership” is about understanding the organization’s relationship with data and looking for ways to help the organisation meet its goals with the tools that are available to them. Within that overall Data Leadership Framework, there are two separate fields: Data Strategy and Data Architecture.
The Data Strategy is the plan for how to use data
Companies often come up with their Business Strategy, and then say that they need a Data Strategy to help them achieve that Business Strategy. “Developing a business strategy without taking into account the ways in which you will need to know that you have a business strategy is not the best way to go,” said Algmin. Instead, a Data Strategy should be viewed as a functional view of the Business Strategy, and it should be developed at the same time as it. “It’s really a subset, not a completely new data-focused thing.”
It should be the goal of Data Strategy to make the most business impact possible by aligning with the business strategy. At the same time, the Business Strategy needs to be based on the idea that data is an important tool for getting what you want. The real question is, “How can we use data to make our business run better?”
Algmin said he’s a big fan of understanding the value of data, which he says is the difference in business outcomes in three ways: increasing revenue, cutting costs, or managing risk. It’s the difference between what a business would do if it had it and what the business would do if it didn’t. In the event that we don’t do X, Y, or Z with the data assets that we have, what would happen to the business? The whole point of your job is to get business results, but you can’t do that by doing Data Strategy. You do that by making a business plan.
Architecture of data
People who work as data architects can give business processes a boost of life. Data Architecture is all about making sure that the infrastructure is in place to make the business changes that were identified in the Data Strategy. He said, “We now know what the business results are, and we know how different business activities are across those three dimensions.”
In order to be good at Data Strategy, he said that a baseline set of measurements must be set up so that you can see how well things are going. “We need to know the basic measurements of what we’re doing and compare them to the things that we would like to be doing,” says the author. This process makes people accountable and gives them a clear picture of how well their efforts are working to reach their goals. It’s important to think about what data you’ll be measuring, as well as what you’ll do with that data in order for your company to achieve its data-driven goals.
The Data Architect’s job has changed over time.
In Algmin’s words, “Data Leadership is mostly about Data Architecture, but it’s also about becoming part of the business and providing support for people to change their behaviour.”
He said that the job of a data architect has changed a lot. It used to be easy. Then we’d make a report and “That would be cool.” A data architect is no longer just a database developer or modeller who builds data flow diagrams for reporting purposes. Because there are so many options for working with data, and because IoT is so detailed, being a data architect is no longer just about building data flow diagrams for reporting purposes.
In the past few years, it has become less clear where the data architect and the enterprise architect meet. Enterprise Architecture has largely fallen by the wayside in many businesses because many enterprise architects thought the business should work with the technology set up by IT, rather than making the technology work for the business.
“A lot of enterprise architects, in my opinion, became too fond of the idea that they were important on their own.” Even if you’re talking about data architecture or enterprise architecture, as long as your work has no effect on the business, you don’t even matter.
It made enterprise architects “unresponsive” and “buried in the IT caverns,” he said. Data Architecture should look at how to find and put the right tools in place to help businesses achieve their goals. This could include everything from data systems and data warehouses to visualisation tools.
Data architects who see themselves as able to help the real-world implementation of the business strategy by providing whatever tools are needed will make decisions that add value to the data. What’s going on in our businesses now? “So you can see that the data architect has the keys to a lot of what’s going on because all roads lead to data.”
He thinks of data as energy because stored data can’t do anything on its own, and like energy, it has a lot of risks. Putting data to use only makes it valuable. If you put it to use the wrong way, you can make a big mess, like a breach of privacy, which is bad. It’s important to pay attention to how data is being used and make sure that the right controls are in place. There is only one reason to be responsible and proactive, and that’s because without it, you’re going to blow something up. There is no longer a good reason to have a data breach because you didn’t know about it, he said.
Data Architecture helps with Data Strategy. “I don’t think you can do Data Strategy without Data Architecture,” he said. If you don’t have a strategy in place, “you’re not going to be as valuable as you should be.” Data Strategy and Data Architecture are two different parts of a very complicated ecosystem. Data Architecture is used to help with Data Strategy, and Data Strategy is used to help with Data Architecture.
The goal is to build a data strategy.
Algmin said that in order to build a good Data Strategy, you need to know what’s possible from a technological point of view, as well as what it takes to make that possible happen. A person who works in IT also needs to know how the business works, be a good listener, and be able to talk to business leaders.
It’s important for people in the IT department to be thought of as part of the business, he said. It all starts with the people in charge of IT:
“Your value as a data architect comes from how you help the business.” It doesn’t matter how well you do your job. People say that “it’s how your thing helps your business be a success.”