As businesses look for ways to incorporate data into their everyday operations, data architects have become a valuable business resource. Their technical skills and understanding can help businesses target their growth and organize the wealth of information that comes into their business.
Let’s explore exactly what a data architect is to better understand the value this position can provide. Then, we can talk about how driven professionals can receive the training they need to make this their career path.
The Growing Importance of Data in the Business World
Data has become essential to business operations. This information collected by organizations allows them to make a variety of better, data-driven business decisions. The data can provide them with insight into how and when to release different products and services, how to market their organization, and how to better engage customers.
The information collected by data architects and similar data-related positions empowers businesses to make decisions based on facts and understandable customer trends rather than trying to interpret and predict market trends based on intuition. This improves resource allocation for the organization.
What Is Data Architecture?
Data architecture determines how data is managed, including how business systems collect, organize and then store the data throughout their regular business operations. The data architecture determines how that data is collected and how the data storage systems work.
The data collected will include facts like sales rates, customer information, and customer behavior. It can also track information about competitors to build out a more thorough profile of the industry. Businesses then use the information and keep it organized so they can build lead profiles and better understand their own products’ successes. The data storage system keeps the information secure so that only those authorized can access it.
Data architecture deals with various types of technology and incorporates a few main components. While different strategies for collecting and organizing data exist, the main components you will see include:
- The data pipelines, which provide businesses with the means of collecting data
- The storage system, which is typically cloud-based and where the data is secured
- APIs (application programming interfaces), which provide the connection between the storage and the end-user who needs to access the information. APIs provide a series of requests and responses for accessing the data.
Data architecture systems may also contain components like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate some parts of the data collection system. There may also be a data streaming system for real-time analysis and analytics.
As data architects build their systems, they focus on ensuring the data is accessible for collaboration for those authorized to use it. They design systems that can effectively sort through the huge amount of information that systems can track about businesses and customers to determine what the business needs. They then design a process that can keep the information secure.
What Is a Data Architect?
The data architect has the role of managing and designing the data architecture used in all these processes. They have a keen understanding of what the business needs and how they want to use their data. With their understanding of how those needs interact with the architecture, they can create a solid plan for how the information will be collected, sorted, and then accessed by authorized users.
The Difference Between Data Architects and Other Data Professionals
With the growing importance of data in everyday business operations, you may encounter a few different types of positions within businesses that relate to data. It can be easy to confuse these similar-sounding titles, and you may wonder what the difference is. Overall, remember that the data architect is the professional in charge of designing the data frameworks and taking businesses’ needs and turning them into data collection systems. Other positions have duties related to different parts of the data collection process.
For example, you may encounter data engineers who take the design created by the architects and implement it, making sure the data is accessible by business professionals. You may also encounter data scientists who help to interpret the data and explain how the information relates to the organization and how the business can use it to improve their position. Finally, you may encounter a database architect, but these positions are responsible directly for managing the databases for the business, versus the architect who manages the overall systems to align with business goals.
What Does a Data Architect Do?
On a daily basis, data architects will work with people from various parts of the organization to understand how business needs can be translated into data collection and analysis systems. They work on projects such as researching new opportunities for acquiring data and how the company might use that information. These professionals might also test data systems to make sure the information is accurate and that those who need it can access it.
Here are some more specific goals and tasks completed by data architects:
Design Data Models
Data architects create data models that help to organize and align the data collection process with business needs. They take internal policies and goals and turn them into strategies for collecting data and then organizing it for business use. The architect knows the different database models and how to use them for different applications.
Ensure Data Integrity and Security
The architect also looks for security measures with the data. The data collected by businesses is often highly sensitive, and data integrity and security are paramount. The architect will design the security system, such as off-site backups, to ensure that the data remains accessible and protected from those not authorized to access it.
Coordinate with Data Scientists, Analysts, and Stakeholders
The data architect will also coordinate with other professionals in the organization, such as data scientists, analysts, and stakeholders. When working with scientists and analysts, they help to provide the information needed for scientists and analysts to complete their studies so that the information can be presented to key internal and external stakeholders. They also work with stakeholders to understand what the business wants to accomplish and how data collection and organization can help achieve these goals.
Develop and Implement Data Strategies
Taking the insights gleaned from stakeholders and business leaders, the data architect looks for ways to implement the data system that will bring this to fruition. They design systems that will gather the data the business needs to accomplish its goals.
What Are the Essential Skills Needed to Become a Data Architect?
Those interested in becoming a data architect will quickly discover that there are a few essential skills needed to thrive in this position. The following are a few areas that interested professionals should particularly focus on:
Data architects will need a variety of important technical skills to manage and design the data systems. Specifically, they need to know programming languages like Python, Java, and C/C++. They also need to know database management systems like SQL and NoSQL. Skills related to machine learning and predictive modeling and how to design data systems will play an important role.
Analytic Skills and Problem-Solving Abilities
As a data architect, you will also need a wealth of analytical and problem-solving abilities. These professionals need to take a set of business goals and desires and know how to turn that information into a data collection and analysis system. If something doesn’t work the way it was designed, they also need to have the problem-solving skills to make the necessary adjustments. They may also need to work with competing interests and priorities of different leaders and stakeholders and create a solution that works toward different goals.
Communication and Collaboration Skills
Data architects must work with a variety of different technical and non-technical professionals. They need to coordinate business objectives with business leaders and stakeholders and work on the technical side with data scientists and database administrators. This calls for clear communication skills and the ability to collaborate and come up with unified solutions for a variety of situations.
Understanding of Business Processes and Strategies
Since the data architect needs to implement data systems that take business goals and turn them into information collection, they must also have a thorough understanding of how business processes and strategies work. They need to understand the different goals throughout the business areas and how decisions are made throughout the organization.
How to Become a Data Architect
Becoming a data architect calls for professionals who pursue the necessary educational requirements and put in the work to learn the technical and soft skills needed on the job.
At a minimum, data architects will need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to data, such as computer science or computer engineering. Many will also want to pursue a master’s degree to learn more about managing data systems and the latest in machine learning and database management. Higher-level degrees will also generally provide more opportunities for career advancement.
In addition to the schooling requirements, the education plan for aspiring professionals should also include on-the-job learning opportunities through internships and junior positions so that they fully understand how data architecture works.
Related Degrees in Computer Science, Information Systems, and Related Fields
The best fields of study for those interested in data architecture are those related to computer science or information systems. These types of degrees will provide training in computer languages, programming languages, and database management systems that professional data architects need. When planning to attend a degree program, students should review the course material to ensure they will receive the training needed in these areas.
UTC’s MBA in Business Analytics
Students can earn their MBA and a Certificate in Business Analytics at the same time through UTC. With this program, you learn critical information about business operations while also learning the necessary computer and analytics skills to excel as a data architect.
An MBA can provide students with the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills they need to excel as data architects. Remember that these professionals need excellent insight into business operations to do their jobs well. The MBA in Business Analytics provides students with a thorough understanding of business strategy and operation so they are ready to excel.
The Future of Data Architecture and the Role of Data Architects
As data becomes increasingly important for business management, this field will continue to grow. Computer-based occupations are expected to grow 15% between 2021 and 2031, with database architects seeing a 10 percent growth rate within that same timeframe. As organizations increasingly rely on data to make business decisions and incorporate technology like cloud-based systems into their organization, these roles will continue to be critical for business.
If you are ready to get started becoming a data architect, come and learn more about how the MBA program at UTC can prepare you for your future.