Data Insights — A Panel Discussion With Industry Leaders
A concept image of data flowing with multiple color bands

In a recent panel hosted by The Doyle Group, industry experts delved into critical topics shaping the future of data management. The event was hosted in our online community, the briDGe. The discussion spanned from the importance of integrating data strategies at the project’s inception to securing executive support for data initiatives and identifying key qualities in top-tier data professionals. This conversation provided invaluable insights on how to harness the power of data to drive success. Two industry leaders who shared their insights were:

  • Carole Hill, Senior Director, Data Strategy & Analytics at Wilbur Ellis
  • Leslie Echelberger, Data Governance, Master Data Management, Data Architect

Doyle Group founder, Andrew Doyle, moderated the discussion. Here are a few of the key questions the panel answered during their time together:

How can you ensure data is addressed at the beginning of a project?

Data is key to understanding whether a project is ultimately successful. There has to be some kind of benchmark in place related to project performance. Communicating early and often about a project’s metrics and KPIs will help the data team (whether based on the business or IT side) to channel their efforts in ways that are most likely to result in positive outcomes.

Questionnaires can be helpful. They aid in discovering the type and amount of data that your project may need. And if your project has an architectural review board, endeavor to bring the data professional to the table when holding your planning meetings.

“[With] just a simple questionnaire… you’re not asking people [for a] solution, but you’re making them think a little bit, just so someone who does wear that [data architect] hat in the organization… can get involved and dive a little deeper.”

-Carole, on the importance of highlighting data needs on the front end of a project

How can you get buy-in or an executive sponsor from leadership to invest in data solutions and governance initiatives?

Company executives are geared to act — and react — based on the immediate needs of their business. Leaders may already have a high-level view of why data is important, and how it fits into the overall process that results in success. However, understanding how data solutions impact their project in specific ways is often the main motivator for supporting data-driven initiatives.

“Typically when you’re trying to sell data governance… to the executives, they’re not going to understand anything if you’re talking theory… You have to come into those discussions with numbers, and actual business cases where something’s failing, and as a result, this is what’s happening.”

-Leslie, on how to secure executive buy-in

How can you ensure the security and quality of data?

The first step is to be involved in projects early enough to understand the level of security and quality required. Then, build your infrastructure and processes around those needs. In most cases, human behavior is the number one data security issue you’ll have to face. It’s critical to put data ethics and policies together and hold people accountable to the standards that have been set.

Training is also key — especially personal training. Take data breach risks out of the realm of the dry and theoretical. And provide real-life scenarios that your team may encounter. Make the connection between breached data and the potential for financial harm to loved ones. 

In terms of data governance, you need to have the right people in place to secure sensitive data. They must first understand what sensitive data is. Then, they must know how to tag it, mask it, and delete it when appropriate. A data architect must understand the project’s specific governance needs from the outset, and build out the infrastructure and methodology that will meet those needs effectively.

In addition, it may take some probing to uncover the true quality of a business’ data as originally presented. Data is often messy, even when the best processes and tools are in play, and “pretty-looking” data may end up being fool’s gold when it comes to positive project outcomes.

“If everything’s laid out and perfect, you’ve got to question it, because data can be messy… It’s just probing a bit: ‘What else? What else?’ A little bit of coaching to get more of the detail out… It takes a SME who really understands that business area, which is where your data stewards and your data governance folks are key to have at the beginning of the project, to weigh in on whether what they’re seeing is accurate or not.”

-Carole, on why it’s important to uncover the true nature of a company’s data

How can you hire the right data professionals for your team/project? And what qualities should you look for?

In some cases, it may be helpful to target candidates who have experience in the data reporting, analytics, and/or warehousing space, since they already have experience in “connecting the dots” between data anomalies and real-world impacts; and they’re already used to looking at data through the lens of enterprise reporting and predictive analytics. At the same time, it’s important to find someone who is flexible, and willing to adapt to changes in technology and process. 

“Even during the middle of a project, things are going to change, and [change] quickly. You have to be able to adapt to that. Somebody who is capable of pivoting, and not letting their whole world come crashing down, because guess what? We’ve got to pivot. We’ve got a new source we didn’t know about, now we’re scoping this in. And just being able to roll with that… somebody who has that flexibility… you’ve got to have it.”

-Leslie, on some of the key qualities to look for in a data professional

If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage data insights, implement a robust data governance plan, or find the right data professionals for your company’s projects, reach out to our team at The Doyle Group today to begin the conversation. Also, to access the event recording in full click here.

Please Enter Your Email Below.
Join our mailing list to get access to exclusive content
Download the New Hiring Guide