HerDay: What does a data strategist do all day? The Sequel


Neourban Hipster Office by markus spiske

Hello, I’m Edafe and I’m a data strategist.

What is data strategy?

The art and science of getting the most value out of data. That could mean better governance around managing information, insights into gaps between the information you hold and the information you need to stay competitive, visualising how information flows around your organisation, finding and analysing data assets that help you make analytics-driven and fact-based decisions and much, much more.

“Data is the new oil” and strategy is “art of the general”; With data strategy you compete on analytics and win.

So, what do I do all day? As a consultant and trainer, my day is pretty varied. I hotdesk at Unity works in Wakefield and co-work at The Open Data Institute node in Leeds. There’s travel to exotic places like Devon and Hampshire. Not to mention a dizzying number of exciting events to attend, all around maximising data for good, for profit and for fun.

My last live-ish blog “What does a data strategist do all day?” covered a mainly home-based day. Today, I’m co-working, collaborating and cogitating. Stay with me for hourly updates, here or follow me, @ekoner, on twitter.

5am – 6am
I’m awake – checking my calendar and to-do list with a cup of tea. That’s all my brain can cope with this early!

6am – 7am
The hour of tea, browsing through notifications, doing the cashflow thing and getting to inbox zero.

7am – 8am
Prepping for a day co-working. Packing laptops (yes, more than one!), notebook, artefact cards (for ideas) and all the bits you need for a mobile office.

8am – 10am
Between my commute to Leeds and a productive 30 minute phone call, this morning has been packed. Data strategy and analytics are resource-intensive activities. I spend a good chunk of my time talking with domain experts, as well as looking at data, documents and making sense of it all. This funnels into the recommendations. You’re only as good as your data, so it’s critical to ask the right questions, speak to the right people and acknowledge bias along the way.

10am – Noon
Wifi blues means I’m working on my final report for an adult social care providers open data project. Adult social care is generally seen as “Mission: impossible” when it comes to open data publication. For the last couple of months, I’ve been working with FutureGov to examine the domain, concerns, issues, risks and opportunities. I have a couple of weeks to go, so all hands on deck to complete this work. I’ve been lucky to work with some truly excellent staff at Devon county council and the feedback is all making its way into this document.

Noon – 1pm
Lunch! Cafe Moor with Simon, the FSB representative I met at today’s co-working event. We’re talking open data and the impact on economic development in the North East. I’m fascinated as small business and access to analytics is a key issue for me, both as a small business and as someone who tends to provide skills to medium-to-large enterprise.

1pm – 2pm
Catching up on emails, tweets and checking things off my to-do list. A bounty of important documents have arrived that means I can finish documenting a data collection model. This is excellent news and an important step – if you don’t know where a dataset came from, how it was collected and if there are any inherent biases, it can affect the products you create with it. Think of it as terroir for wine or those little cards next to artefacts in museums that give you that important extra bit of information.

2pm – 3pm
Meetings, meetings, meetings. Remember how I said data analytics and data strategy are resource intensive? Here’s why: Until someone invents a way to dump my knowledge telepathically into someone else’s head, collaborating is still the best way I know to exchange information and promote understanding. I supplement written guides, diagrams and videos with conversation to ensure I understand and have taken the domain expert’s perspective on board.

3pm – 5pm
Goodbye Leeds, hello Wakefield! This is commuter hour, nothing to report but a load of tweets.

5pm – 6pm
I knuckle down for some more work on the adult social care providers open data report. This is the hardest part of project work for me. None of the excitement of the discovery phase nor the intellectual challenge of the sense-making phase. This phase is akin to sculpture – removing the marble to release the statue within. What makes it hard for me is the challenge of condensing everything I’ve learnt, observed and intuited into a consumable format that will live on beyond my quarter of effort. I’m pleased to have the opportunity and feedback to produce this iteratively, which will improve the quality and usefulness.

Now for family dinner with my partner, cups of tea and an end to another productive day.

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Consultant: Data Science & Data Analysis – Making the complex, simple

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