Understanding the Role of a Data Architect

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(Newswire.net — May 18, 2018) — You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “Big Data” thrown around a time or dozen over the last five years. You may have rolled your eyes and wrote it off as one of the many overused buzz terms the internet loves to perpetuate.

You wouldn’t be entirely wrong: it’s an over-simplified term used to describe anything and everything concerning the vast swaths of data we accumulate from various sources and (attempt to) process in meaningful ways. A big reason why it’s such an easy term to scoff at is because it can mean very different things depending on the person using it, and usually doesn’t bring us any closer to clarity.

However, big data isn’t without its teeth; it’s a growing, thriving, and potentially, world-changing industry. Per Statista, big data’s market revenue was 7.6 billion in 2011. This year it’s expected to reach $42 billion, and by 2027, big data’s market revenue is forecasted to reach 103 billion. That’s some seriously steady growth for a “hollow” industry buzz term.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, I’m trying to tell you that no matter what your company mission is or what your goals are, data needs to be at the forefront. And there’s no better way to align your overall goals with data than to employ skilled data professionals — chiefly among them, the data architect.

Let’s look at what a data architect is; what they’re responsible for and the overall role they play in companies.

What Is a Data Architect?

A data architect is the backbone of an organization’s data efforts. They’re the conduit between business and technology. Without a data architect, an organization wouldn’t have a proper foundation for which to base data initiatives. They also wouldn’t know if something was going horribly awry in their data collection, modeling or storing methods.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Data Architect?

A data architect’s specific responsibilities will vary depending on the organization they serve, but on a high level, data architects are ultimately responsible for shaping the way an organization captures, organizes, integrates, analyzes and stores data. They’re responsible for detecting any root issues before major time and money is wasted through impure data methods.

Elizabeth Mazenko breaks down a data architect’s core responsibilities to include:

  • Data Warehousing Solutions
  • Extraction, Transformation and Load (ETL)
  • Data Architecture Development
  • Data Modeling

That’s certainly a lot to be responsible for and no organization’s data efforts would get off the ground without a data architect handling these important areas. But where data architects truly provide value to companies is in the role they play.

What Is the Role of a Data Architect?

Aside from overseeing the tech and processes involved in making data initiatives flow smoothly throughout an organization, data architects are responsible for guiding how a company communicates about data. They put data in business context and unify the language for how data is discussed internally among several different departments.

This is moving the data architecture role closer to that of a data advisor. Data architects are still there to spot foundational problems, but they’re increasingly being leaned upon to be innovators. The data and tech landscape is constantly changing as AI is being leveraged more in data modeling solutions to get us closer to self-serve analytics, however, this doesn’t make data architects obsolete, it only makes them more important. Any data initiative—AI-powered or not—needs a capable data architect to ensure data is collected, cleansed and stored in such a way that enhances the efficacy of additional tools or processes.

Harvard Business Review had it partially right when they declared the data scientist as the “sexiest job of the 21st century.” As technology accelerates and more data is generated, data jobs in general are trending, and none more pivotal to an organization’s data success than the data architect.