Ebook: Democratizing data access and use

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Glossary

Data architect

The data architect designs and manages an organization's data architecture, which collects, stores, processes, analyzes and shares all data.

To fully exploit their available information, organizations need a structure in place that ensures it is easily accessible and understandable by all. Designing this is the job of the data architect. They define the optimal data infrastructure for all of an organization’s information, ensuring availability, security and compliance.

What is a data architect?

The data architect designs and manages an organization’s data infrastructure. This covers the collection, storage, processing, analysis and sharing of large volumes of data through an optimized data architecture that spans the entire organization.

Data architects normally work in organizations that create and manage large volumes of data. Working together with other members of the data team (such as data analysts and data stewards) their role is to facilitate the use of data to unlock its value.

The job covers multiple tasks:

  • Creation and/or management of the data architecture: this begins with evaluating current needs and existing infrastructure, identifying the best architecture to meet these requirements, then deploying the architecture. After this they are responsible for improving the architecture, updating it, particularly when integrating new data sources.
  • Reporting: regular monitoring and reporting on performance against set KPIs.
  • Security: security and regulatory compliance is vital to protect data against threats and misuse..

To successfully complete these tasks the data architect must build a deep understanding of both the business needs of the company – and its technical requirements and overall IT infrastructure. It is vital that the data architecture ensures the organization can deliver on its objectives in terms of becoming data-driven and increasing data democratization.

Putting in place the right architecture makes data more available and drives improvements in productivity, reductions in cost, and higher-quality/more available data.

What skills does the data architect require?

Very often, data architects already have deep experience in data management and information systems, with a background and training in computer science or information technology.

Beyond experience, the data architect must possess the following qualities:

  • Mastery of tools: they must be able to use a variety of programming languages (such as Python, Java, and SQL), along with other modeling tools that can be used to design and model an architecture that meets the company’s objectives.
  • Collaboration skills: to build the data infrastructure, the data architect must collaborate with data engineers, data stewards and the wider business. They need to work collaboratively and be able to communicate the value of what they do to gain buy-in.
  • Business knowledge: the data architect must understand the company’s challenges and objectives in order to create a high-performance architecture that underpins a more data-driven organization.
  • Curiosity: in order to deploy innovative, relevant solutions the data architect must stay informed and up-to-date on the latest techniques and technologies, such as data mesh.

Data architect: a fast-changing role

With ever-increasing volumes of data, data architects have become indispensable to organizations. This is particularly true as data becomes central to meeting business needs and is democratized and shared internally and externally.

They need to be able to adapt as technology and requirements change. For example, the rise of data mesh architectures has a major impact on how a company structures its data stack. This new model decentralizes responsibilities related to data, requiring data architects to create a much more open data infrastructure, backed up by strong governance processes.

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