Editorials

But DBAs Are Dead!!!

It always makes me laugh when I read that the position of DBA (in whatever form) is going away.  Wrapping up “data management” into that title, you have administrative DBAs, data managers, all of that – and the tools that manage those flows and make it useful all fall in the database management realm.  When you talk with people that don’t understand, they see the headlines about AI and the cloud and think that it all replaces developers and database managers and the like.

Just the opposite, of course.  I feel like as more and more is needed of our systems, we’re expected to have the answers.  The answers about what tools do what processing, what information is available and how it all comes together.

I saw this post about the Rise of the Real-Time Enterprise – it’s an interesting look at trying to create a data environment where the data is flowing constantly in support of decision making.  (Here’s a link) and was struck and a bit terrified of some of the stuff said, in particular:

Business leaders have to cultivate a mindset throughout the business to continually remove subjective bias from everyday thinking and rely solely on the data to determine what happens next.

I’ve been writing here about the bias, in one way or another, of data sets and to see a trend toward blindly relying on information is very premature IMHO.  To think that we’re looking to build out a culture of trusting the data at a time when the tools and sources are just starting to come into being with no real pedigree on the data is a point of caution, to say the least.

The idea of a pure data-driven decision process, though, is intriguing and a good goal.  It would remove the subjectivity that we all have.  It’s like investing – we’re always taught to go with the facts, the numbers, the actual performance of a company when considering investing.  The data.

So, as data folks, I think this provides some really great opportunities for driving forward the vision for the company when it comes to what can be done, what should be done, with the information in our grasp.  We can use these goals to drive the organization forward and consider new technologies, data sources, and tools to get the job done.

I also think a dose of caution is needed – and data to back up that caution.  Teaching people to check their sources and to look for alternate interpretations is a nice goal to talk about, but really getting buy-in on that is going to be challenging.  One approach might be to try to show both sides of a specific data set interpretation, or to include additional information for reference.  Keeping people aware that there are few absolutes and that care and feeding of the data models is not a stagnant thing, is critical.

I’d love to think the executive suite could just sit back, push a button and know which direction to head for the company, but I think it’s far more likely that we’ll be supporting the decision-making process, rather than guiding it, with information from the systems and sources we coalesce.

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