Who’s on Your Data Team?

Who’s on Your Data Team?

In many organizations, there’s no such thing as a dedicated “data team” – these roles tend to be part of the IT departments, or, as is often these days, the marketing or finance teams. Should there be a standalone, distinct data team?

There’s a good case to be made for separating data savvy into its own leadership area, and things seem to be shifting in this direction. With the prominent role data now plays in business success, many organizations are recognizing that data management, quality and governance aren’t jobs that can be tacked on the responsibilities of IT managers or professionals. There needs to be a dedicated cadre of data professionals who can focus on data, and only data.

IT leaders, for one, simply no longer have the time or bandwidth to effectively manage corporate data assets, a recent report from Experian explains.


As a result, there is growing interest in establishing chief data officer roles within enterprises. It’s significant that this is a C-level role as well, stressing the importance of the job to the strategic aspirations of businesses. The report’s authors note that the CDO is still a relatively new phenomenon, their survey of 250 enterprises finds that 78% of organizations with CDOs having only created the position within the past year.

The main duties of the CDO include providing consistency in data-driven projects, increasing data quality, and overseeing the use of data to meet compliance and regulations. However, one individual can’t do this alone. It’s going to take a team. Here are the group of professionals who should be working closely with the CDO to assure that enterprise data goals are met:

Data owners: “The people in the organization that are ultimately held accountable for maintaining the quality of any given set of data,” the Experian report states. “These team members are typically in a more senior position and are very closely aligned to the business.”

Data stewards: “Responsible for the management of the data elements — both the data itself and the metadata. Data stewards are responsible for helping operations team members ensure they follow rules, guidelines and standards when entering data into a system.”

Data consumers: “Employees who will be using the data on a regular basis. These are oftentimes business people who are responsible for defining what standards data must be held to in order for it to be useful. Because they are the heaviest users of the data, they are also the first line of defense in identifying and reporting data issues to the team.”

Data producers: “Those in the organization that are actually capturing data, so they must ensure they are strictly adhering to the data consumer’s requirements.

Data analysts (or data scientists): “Translate data into actionable business insights. Typically these people will use modeling or reporting tools to summarize data so key stakeholders can make business decisions.”

Data custodians: The individuals who “bridge the gap between the data team and the IT team. They are responsible for maintaining the data on the different IT systems used in your organization. They are also responsible for ensuring data strictly follows the requirements that were set by the business.”