The Data Strategist: Master of conception and communication

from | 24 January 2018 | Basics

Companies today collect vast amounts of data and sometimes spend large sums of money to store and manage it. Some of this data is collected because it serves a specific use. Other data is collected even though there is not yet a use case. This is precisely where the task of the Data Strategist an. Even before the Data Engineer and the Data Scientist get down to work, the data strategist identifies relevant use cases and associated opportunities. His task precedes all others, so to speak, and he accompanies Data projects in the different phases.

These are the tasks of the Data Strategist

The central task of the Data Strategist is the conception of data strategies and related projects in the area of the digitalisation of companies. In order to create a Data Journey methods such as design thinking are used to conceptualise the use cases. Another important working tool of data strategists are workshops in which they discuss use cases together with companies and develop a use case roadmap on this basis.

In particular, it is about understanding the individual requirements of companies and learning to translate these productively into data projects. The goal is always to generate real added value from the existing data ("Data2Value"). A data strategist does not work alone, but works together with a team on the various aspects of the data strategy.

In order to develop sustainable ideas from which new, data-driven business models can be derived in the longer term, it is important to always be up to date. That's why it's also part of the job to keep abreast of important trends in the digital environment, such as AI, Machine Learning or Chatbots and to anticipate them. This enables successful data strategies to be devised that not only bring companies short-term success, but also a competitive advantage in the long term.

These are the skills a data strategist needs

Basic programming skills are very helpful for a data strategist to understand, conceptualise and most importantly communicate data strategies. More important are skills like listen and to understand, a pronounced Communication talent and Persuasion. For example, they need to master presentation tools such as PowerPoint from the FF in order to quickly transform complex topics into meaningful graphics and convincing stories.

In addition to conceptual thinking, storytelling talent, statistical and mathematical understanding, a high level of commitment, flexibility and creativity are also standard. This is because a lot of energy is needed, especially at the beginning of projects, as new ground is often broken. However, since the projects are also accompanied in the further course, knowledge of project management rounds off the profile of a good data strategist.

How does one become a Data Strategist?

The profession of data strategist has only existed for a few years. That is why there are still no corresponding degree programmes or further training opportunities. As a rule, a degree in business administration or business informatics is the starting point for a career.

Initial experience, for example as a trainee or junior data strategist in the field of business analytics, data science projects or in a strategy consultancy, often precedes entry into the profession. Studies and professional practice are the source of well-founded knowledge about data science. Big Data, data analytics, IT and business administration. In addition to knowledge and experience, however, a basic aptitude for the analytical and strategic thinking which no data strategist can do without.

The everyday working life

The conception of ideas, data strategies and projects is certainly the core business of a data strategist. However, a data strategist does not only play an important role in the initial phase. He also accompanies projects along the way. For example, he checks whether adjustments such as the addition of external data sources are necessary for better analysis.

Successful strategies are not necessarily characterised by the fact that they are right from the start, but that they are regularly checked for success and corrected if necessary. Here, too, it becomes clear why communication skills are so important for a data strategist, because many entrepreneurial areas such as purchasing, corporate management and IT come into contact here. Accordingly, the data strategist also develops guidelines for the correct handling of data in legal and ethical terms (Data governance) and the distribution of roles (Data Custodianship).


Michaela Tiedemann

Michaela Tiedemann has been part of the Alexander Thamm GmbH team since the early start-up days. She has actively shaped the development from a fast-moving, spontaneous start-up to a successful company. With the founding of her own family, a whole new chapter began for Michaela Tiedemann at the same time. Hanging up her job, however, was out of the question for the new mother. Instead, she developed a strategy to reconcile her job as Chief Marketing Officer with her role as a mother.

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