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Data Mesh TV: Data is like Water

By: Dr. Sebastian Klapdor, Adrian Estala
October 14, 2022

Years ago, the phrase, “Data is the new oil” became very popular.  It was a strong statement that affirmed the importance of data. While we don’t measure data value in barrels, we do use data to fuel and accelerate our business. The analogy also hinted that finding data and moving data feels as complex as oil exploration and transportation.

We should not accept these limitations. Data is not the new oil, data is more like water.

What we’ve strived for at Vista is that if we likened our data to behave more like water, we’d make it far more accessible and democratized as a natural resource. If data is like water:

  • It flows smoothly and easily
  • It’s far easier to process and consume
  • It is a resource that the organization has a right to access
  • It is not toxic, it is good for you and the company

Then, ensure that your data strategy is in alignment with the organization’s business problems and objectives. In this episode of Data Mesh TV, we take a closer look at Vista’s (not so) secret sauce to drive value from data:

Define a data strategy in support of business objectives, based on the business problem and desired impact

As you start your Data Mesh journey, start by defining the business outcomes. Look at the data problems and opportunities that are impacting your organization. Study your consumer, take the time to understand what data they use, how they use the data, and why data is important to them.

At Vista, we have very much a business-led focus, with how we build around data and how we drive data through the company. In other words, we anchor our designs on business value. By doing so, your efforts are focused on building the capabilities that will drive a faster ROI.

Set up domains assigned to value pools and build data products

Following the Data Mesh principle of autonomous domains, we enable consumers access to the data and the tools that they need to deliver their unique objectives. Each of these domains are tied to a value pool and we try to attach a fit for purpose governance approach. If we are building data products, you can accelerate innovation and discovery by encouraging agility early in the process. You can then apply stricter governance as the data product’s lifecycle matures; i.e. where and how it is used.

Getting the most out of your Data Mesh in a resource scarce environment

I think one thing that we learned with Data Mesh is that communication is really important so that you don’t reinvent the same thing five times. Because in the end, we’re in a resource scarce environment.

There’s always a shortage of data engineers and scientists and analysts. Even at Vista, despite the fact that we’ve grown our team by over 250 people, there’s still so many value pools we can tackle. So make sure that you don’t put too many human resources on the same problem just to drive a higher ROI. In short, communicate, communicate, communicate — that’s vital.

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Dr. Sebastian Klapdor

EVP, Chief Data Officer, Vista

Sebastian (“Basti”) joined Vista in 2019 after 12 years at McKinsey & Co, where he was a partner leading global projects to help clients develop world class data and analytics capabilities for commercial and ops use cases. Today, Basti is leading Vista to become one of the most iconic data and analytics companies through its data talent, strategy, culture, tech stack and operating model. Key element of his vision is to treat data as product and build scalable data products in cross-functional teams on a data mesh architecture. He holds a Ph. D. from Technische Universität Munich.

Adrian Estala

VP, Field Chief Data Officer, Starburst

Adrian Estala is VP, Field Chief Data Officer and the host of Data Mesh TV. With a background in leading Digital and IT Portfolio Transformations, he understands the value of creating executive frameworks that focus on material business outcomes. Skilled with getting the most out of data-driven investments, Adrian is your trusted adviser to navigating complex data environments and integrating a Data Mesh strategy in your organization.

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