April 27, 2020

The Rise of the Business-Driven Data Architect

Donna Burbank

Topic:   Data

Last updated: February 2nd, 2021


The term “digital transformation” has been ubiquitous in recent years, with more and more organizations looking to increase their digital presence in new and innovative ways. Many organizations are now coming to terms with the fact that this digital transformation needs to occur much more rapidly than they had expected as business moves nearly completely online. In launching their digital journey, organizations quickly realize that digital transformation requires data transformation and that a strong data foundation is needed in order to support digital success.

Organizations quickly realize that digital transformation requires data transformation and that a strong data foundation is needed.”

What does a data foundation entail, and how can the data architect become a critical voice in enabling digital and business transformation? Any digital presence requires quality, curated data that is readily consumable at the speed of business.

For example, let’s consider an online retail organization. To sell products online, a robust product catalog is needed that can be rapidly accessed via the web. In data terms, this requires product master data that is well curated, structured in a way that is easily searchable by consumers, and readily accessible by the applications publishing to the website. Customer data must be up to date and accurate with not only valid shipping addresses, but digital contact mechanisms such as e-mail and text. Customer support must be data-enabled, with an added benefit of the ability to use AI-driven applications such as chat bots to support increasing demand. And the data-centric list goes on.

In my consulting practice, we recently worked with a healthcare organization that relied heavily on in-person, face-to-face therapy sessions as a critical pillar in serving its patients, as well as driving revenue. Suddenly faced with the need to move 100 percent of its work online, the organization needed to rapidly switch to a telehealth model, not only “keep the lights on” in terms of revenue but, arguably more importantly, to serve high-risk clients who were in urgent need of mental and physical health services. Because the organization had created a strong data foundation, it was able to rapidly move to a telehealth model within a single week.

What supported this rapid transformation? In the past years, this organization had placed a strong value and focus on data and had built out the following key pillars of its data foundation:

  • Data Governance: Creating a strong, business-led initiative in which data-centric decisions could be raised to enable fast, decisive action
  • Data Quality: Ensuring that patient data was up to date and accurate
  • Master Data Management: Creating a consistent, high-quality set of critical data for patients, providers, and staff that was easily consumed by all systems
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics: Leveraging its core data warehouse to provide rapid reporting to management for patient distribution, support coverage, and critical patient needs

The data team was instrumental in this effort, recognized as key enablers to this business transformation. The CEO, in her weekly letter to the organization stated, “I love data! It’s been instrumental in getting us through this recent crisis.” This is a perfect testament to the ability of a data professional to have a significant impact on the success of the organization and the people it serves.

If you are a data professional whose organization is looking to transform to a more digital way of working, now is a great time to have a larger voice for change. Look for some key data areas that can enable a move to digital, whether this be product, customer, patient, or other business-critical data. How can this data be leveraged to support a new way of working? How can the foundation you’ve worked to build be used for success?

It is a great time to be a data professional and you have a unique opportunity to help drive positive change. Best of luck in your data and digital journey.

If you’d like to learn more, we recently hosted a webinar that explores the topic of the role of the business-driven data architect in more detail. You can catch it on-demand here.

If you have further questions about enabling a digital organization through data, you can reach Donna at donna.burbank@globaldatastrategy.com.