“Listen, I don’t know if you do this or not, but…,”
or “Gee, I know you are only the data person but…”
or “My terminal keyboard isn’t working on my desk and the markets are closing, so…” (this is one of my personal favorites, which was actually once asked of me)
So why is it that most firms think the Data group has all the answers – no matter what the question? Well perhaps it’s because we should.
We all know that data is not a crystal ball allowing us to see into the future (don’t we?), but I do believe that good data in a good application with good support is the Holy Grail. We’ve defined what makes good data in one of my previous posts, so today let’s talk about another root topic: data sources.
When it comes to data sources, are some better than others? I did once have a CEO throw his wallet on the table in a meeting once and tell the CIO to just go buy the data. The CIO picked up the wallet and walked out! Alas, it’s actually not as easy as “just go buy some data and slap on some analytics!” My CEO anecdote being a rare exception, almost everyone has an opinion on this, and some pretty strong ones at that - especially when it comes to the complexities of black pools, structured derivatives, credit default swaps and rocket scientists who build amazing ‘black box’ algos capable of trading millions of shares on any global exchange in seconds. When it comes to that level of complexity and sophistication, it’s hard to be data agnostic. Data sources really do matter for data, and those sources must ensure data that is consistent and accurate. It’s tough to be data agnostic
So while we may get a lot of silly questions thrown at us, when it comes to ensuring data quality, and therefore ensuring the data source is of the highest degree, it really is our job as data managers to deal with it. The data team knows what they’re doing – the questions to ask, the processes to build – and sometimes we’re even technical enough to query the database, do our own research. Let us care about it because at the end of the day, we are the last line of defense. We are the gate keepers to the gold mine that is the data warehouse. If the data team is behind the scenes working diligently every day, anticipating issues and scrubbing the data – then the source can be agnostic.
Is Data Agnosticism Even a Possibility?
So how do you get to a point of data agnosticism – to that point where everyone feels comfortable and confident? Well just look at the news just this past week: “J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley to Form Data Company”, August 19, 2015, Wall Street Journal.
If you read into the article, the gist of it is simple, and the answer is clear: “let the data people do the data.”
I’ve been doing this for over twenty years. If you’re reading this right now and you’re a data manager, it’s your responsibility to become a true business partner to the teams you support. And if you’re not a data manager, but rather a performance analyst, a PM, CEO, IT professional, etc., I’m asking you to get to know your data team. Call and talk to them, ask them questions away from the heat of the moment when the world isn’t melting down around you. It’s amazing what a source of insight and information we data folks can be. When you proactively collaborate with your data partners, you’ll be able to step back and appreciate that they’re the team behind that application that you rely on for critical business decisions each and every day…and you can relax knowing you’re in good hands.
This post concludes my August blog series, “What We Don’t Think About When We Think About Data.” If you missed my earlier posts, you can view them all here: http://blog.bi-sam.com/
And if you’d like a deeper dive into these data discussions, join me for a 25-minute, complimentary webinar on Sept. 16. You can register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4304034237390855682