Rethinking Data Management Careers in a Self-Service World

The world of self-service data – line-of-business reporting, self-service analytics, etc. – brings  new opportunities in data management careers, along with new challenges. The shift away from IT-centric data management to decentralized and widely distributed data access and use calls for a decentralized and distributed data management organization to meet goals that align with the ways that data is used today.

Data Management Goals include:

  • Data of high quality and semantic integrity
  • Data that is easy to find and suited to reporting and analytics use cases
  • Data that is reported and analyzed in ways that create good information and prevent misinformation
  • Data that is trusted and that increases confidence for decision makers

Data Management Job Roles

We see three essential job roles in a decentralized and distributed data management organization. Collaboration among these data roles helps to achieve the trust and confidence that are needed to derive sustainable value from data.

Data Management Careers

Data Management Careers

These are typically not job titles, but rather job roles that an individual would perform.

  • Data Steward is an existing role that takes on new importance in the self-service world. Data quality and semantic integrity are critical stewardship goals.
  • Data Curator is a recently emerged role that is responsible to manage a collection of datasets for a data-dependent community. The curator is responsible to make data findable and associated with known uses
  • Data Coach is a new role we propose – experienced and data-savvy individuals who help others to report and analyze data to quickly and efficiently produce good information. Coaches are instrumental in gathering data for data teams, but they do not do the analysis themselves.

There are 3 primary roles that a data coach performs:

  • Modeling and spreading data literacy among all members of the data team. Ensures that the data team has the resources it needs – data, skills, tools, and practices.
  • Facilitating the process of data-driven dialogue, along with challenging assumptions and practices that appear to be obstacles. They create an environment where each team feels safe saying what he or she thinks. They build data teams and work to create leadership and data coaching skills in others.
  • Providing leadership for sustainability of the practice of collaborative inquiry. They build the culture to support the practice and work to infuse collaborative inquiry into ongoing structures, such as meetings, committees, policy decisions, etc. They support a comprehensive data system that provides timely and accurate information on important outcomes.

Criteria for selecting data coaches – look for someone who:

  • Has the authority, time, and legitimacy to convene and lead data teams.
  • Demonstrates leadership.
  • Skilled collaborator and team facilitator.
  • Has basic knowledge of data that includes interpreting results.
  • Is willing to take risks, make mistakes, and continuously learn.

In Summary

As we continue to move more toward a self-service world, the fundamentals of good data management become even more important. Each of these job roles – Data Steward, Data Curator, and Data Coach are essential roles in ensuring that plentiful and high quality data is available and also that those performing the analysis are adequately skilled.

About the Author: Jennifer Hay

Here is some information about my qualifications as an IT Resume Writer.

ACRW through the Resume Writing Academy (
CRS+IT through Career Directors International (
CPRW through the Professional Association of Resume Writers (

I won a Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award in the technical category and later was also a TORI judge.

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