How I’m keeping the Data Citizens momentum going

I am one of hundreds of data professionals who traveled across the United States and from several countries to trade ideas and learn from the best at Data Citizens ‘22. Our program at Moody’s was recognized with the Data Citizen of the Year award, and after spending a few days at Data Citizens, I was reminded to never underestimate the power of the in-person conversation and its ability to spark real change. Based on DC ‘22, here’s how I am changing my road map in 2023 and carrying forward the momentum.

Local user forums: Creating community

I went all the way to San Diego – a five-hour flight from Charlotte, NC – and met someone who works a block down the street from me and is just getting started on their Collibra journey. We hit it off immediately and I thought, “Why don’t we build a user forum here in Charlotte that’s good for all of us? Why can’t we build something like that?”

They have a lot of questions for us about how we do things, and we want to know what other companies are doing and where they see the opportunities. What’s your story? How did you implement, and what are you looking for and how are you expanding? I think we could all benefit from a local data governance community, and I saw a lot of companies at Data Citizens that could come together easily and naturally with a forum in their cities 

I’ve already started talking about it with people in the Charlotte area, and they are saying yes to building community. I know that I’m asking technologists and developers to get together and be social – which is not always the most popular idea – but it starts with understanding each other as people and building rapport and a network, especially after COVID and two or three years without that opportunity. There’s still real value in the in-person conversation.

Seeing through the prism of different industries

I started listening to people talk about how they landed at a specific place depending on what they’re doing as a business, and it challenged me to think differently about our approach.

Many financial companies take a stick approach due to regulation, but not everyone thinks about the carrot approach – something users want to be part of because it makes their jobs easier and benefits them and their business. At Data Citizens, I did a podcast with Joe Wallace from Adobe, and he started the data governance journey by thinking about metrics for business reporting. I realized, there are many ways to start this adventure.

Why can’t we do both? At the end of the day, Moody’s serves customers, and some component of that includes customer support. One of our business lines has been very successful using Collibra to improve customer service. We’ve gone from months to minutes when a customer has a question. We used to have to go back to a developer and ask, “OK, well what did you mean when you created this column?” Instead, we’re documenting in an easily searchable manner.

Data Citizens re-energized me to think about going down that path and doubling down on serving our customers. How do we get more lines of business doing that?

It is something you have to be ready for because it’s a lot of work and it’s not all automated but it’s going to be helpful in the end. It’s paid more dividends for us by really solving customer problems. It’s a different kind of value and frankly that gets executives energized when you solve customer problems and you’re not just solving your own internal business problems. You get great feedback from your stakeholders.

Evolving with definitions, the industry and great ideas

The recognition of our program at Moody’s with the Data Citizen of the Year award was confirmation that we’re going the right way right and we’re not the only ones who think so. It’s great recognition for our team and our business partners who have really done the hard work to make sure that we do data governance and do it the right way. It’s encouraging, but also adds some pressure to continue performing and continue down the path.

One of the most important ways to do that is to listen and be open, take whatever you can glean from conversations because there’s a whole world that we’re not even looking at yet. Data mesh, for instance, was one of the most exciting conversations because it’s clear that it means different things to different people.

While data mesh does have a very specific definition and there is a very specific book out there – the concept is written and defined – I don’t think all companies have come together on what it means. Some people start talking about it and  want to target to a set of tools and maybe not so much the methodology. I’d say we have our own version of it, but I don’t know that it looks like what some other companies might define as data mesh. There’s more work to be done so that everyone is on the same page.

I’m also excited about the way Collibra is thinking about data quality. You may have to leverage multiple tools to get the answers you are looking for regarding data quality. How do you bring that together in a single view of the world? Collibra is already thinking about that and how we can centralize it and tie it into our entire data governance platform.

Data Citizens was a great reminder to pay attention to what other people are doing and see how you could maybe do things a bit differently. There’s so much opportunity for change and to keep maturing the process and leveraging other great ideas. There’s still a huge opportunity ahead for a lot of people, including us, and that’s exciting.

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