During the Industrial Revolution, the efforts of engineers produced incredible, measurable improvements in business and human lives. It’s not surprising that, as a result of this, the Engineer became the defining role of the Industrial Age.
According to Peter Drucker, we are now in the transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. This is why the #BigData phenomenon has emerged. Organization and even individuals are beginning to see the benefits of mastering information, in a way that we simply have not before. The highest-paid opinion will no longer rule.
What is the analog of engineer in the Information Age? What role will define the potential and risks of data?
These seven traits of the Informationist role are the key characteristics that allow Informationists to understand the potential and increase the value of information.
- Informationists analyze data.
Informationists are not necessarily engineers. They may have engineering, business or specific industrial backgrounds. They might be data scientists, software engineers, program managers, business analysts, or executives.
What they have in common is an orientation towards using data FIRST. They can quantify and prioritize the various possibilities with data. They are fantastic at what-if scenarios.
- Informationists increase the value of data.
Informationists understand that what really makes business work is the ongoing refinement of information. They are positively obsessed with helping to make data more and more valuable, over time. This is because they grok that elusive Return on Information everyone seeks to achieve.
They might not be the ones to write the SQL query that ultimately answers the question, but they’ll be invaluable to the person who does write it.
- Informationists present analysis in context.
Informationists also help others use and consume data. They place it in context, as appropriate to the audience, and wrap it in a story. The story becomes easy to transmit and hard to argue with. (Because data.) They can tailor the story to the audience, emphasizing sources, metrics or qualitative elements as appropriate. They explain the actionability of data through examples and are fantastic at exploring and interpreting visualizations.
Informationists know how and when to bring a Data Scientist into the picture. That’s a very important role to play in this new age.
- Informationists tell stories with data.
Informationists learn about the business and domain in which they are operating. As a result they are invariably well known within organizations – the people you call when you have an information problem.
They combine a deep understanding of the business with a solid view of the data available, and how to use it. This makes it possible for them to translate what may be a fairly obscure point, observed in data, to a business issue or opportunity that can be acted on.
They are also huge fans of visualization. They may not be a graphic designer or a “data artist”, but they will be invaluable when you need to engage one.
- Informationists believe that #BigData is not just hype.
Informationists stay very current, understanding both the pitfalls of legacy and the opportunities created by new, data-related technologies. They’ve seen the value created by the #BigData phenomenon. They know that something significant has changed.
They are absolutely interested in seeing the “Star Trek” computer come to life.
- Informationists know that modern-day data architectures are required.
Informationists are well-versed in modern data architectures – from on-premises to cloud, commercial to open source, batch to streaming, and all-points in between. They can triage use cases along the volume, velocity, and variety axis, and explain which architectures support specific insights, drive cost savings, and/or increase agility.
- Informationists have the ability to convince others to their points of view.
Informationists have learned repeatedly that data, even presented in context and wrapped in a story, is not necessarily actionable. They know how to work across organizational lines, engaging their network to bring relevant and compelling arguments that support the data and make any case even clearer.
As the Information Age gives way to the Information Revolution, the Informationists will lead the way.