February 2024 - Data Revolution newsletter

Handcrafted musings on the data revolution

Happy February folks and do please enjoy the extra day on the 29th! Hoping everyone had some time out to refresh in preparation for 2024, because I suspect that it is going to be a big year on the data front.

Before we get started this time I want note an idea that I am adopting from an old mate, Chris Penn (his marketing and data email newsletter is excellent BTW and he is one of my go to people for digital and marketing thinking). He has started including a statement that he has not used AI to write his newsletters, a “statement of authenticity”. I reckon it is a great idea, so I have added the tag line “handcrafted musings on the data revolution” and I will let you know if I ever do use AI to generate the newsletter.

Data risk

I have recently become obsessed with managing data risk. Thanks to all of the data breaches that we experienced in Australia during 2023 this is now top of mind for me and many others.

To this end I have even purchased my own hard copies of Data Management Body of Knowledge 2nd Edition (a.k.a. DMBOK) and Measuring and Managing Information Risk: A FAIR Approach by Freund and Jones. These tomes now sit on my desk and inform my thinking about how we can better manage data risk.

The one thing that remains crystal clear to me is that information and data governance remain of paramount importance for all organisations. And it is also clear that the best way to conceptualise how information and data governance work in conjunction with cyber and information security is that the former work to reduce the magnitude (or impact) of a data breach, while the latter work to reduce the likelihood of a data breach. In fact information and data governance and cyber and information security are two sides of the same protective coin.

How we manage data, analytics, and AI operations = Data Ops

The way that we decide to manage Data Ops (and I am including AI Ops and ML Ops in this category) will be a make or break decision for most organisations. Those who decide to continue to maintain decentralised data stores and data teams will risk their ability to leverage AI because they will not have efficient data pipelines. They will also increase their data risk due to data puddles - this is what I call small and poorly secured duplicate data sets - that are stored around their organisations.

There are much better ways to run Data Ops, and it is going to be something that I will be talking about on the podcast a fair bit this year, so please do keep an ear out.

AI boom times

Well it has certainly been an action packed Xmas period for AI - if you want minute by minute accounts I suggest check out Mark Pesce and his newsletter.

Time series

It is worth noting that more work has been done on time series generative AI models, which I think is really interesting:

Random AI thoughts

I am just back from my Xmas holiday where I was sitting back beside the pool and thinking about AI rather than breathlessly following every new AI thing. Some thoughts:

  • AI is not going to be a thing on its own for long. It will become part of the fabric of other things. It will be woven seamlessly through products and will become less interesting in and of itself. So a protip - do not embed AI into your new business or product name unless you want to be re-branding when the trend is over (remember when it was "e" everything?).

  • AI is going through a very traditional hype cycle and many organisations are getting distracted by all of the hype and are taking their eye off their main business goals (see this HBR article: Siegel, E. (2023, June 2). The AI Hype Cycle Is Distracting Companies. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2023/06/the-ai-hype-cycle-is-distracting-companies). The companies that are going to win in this new world are the ones that understand what affordances AI opens up and that also understand where the best fit areas of their business are. And the winners are investing in their AI skills base right now. For example, I am appointing my first Senior AI Engineer right now. This is a role that was just invented, so it is a case of growing our own.

  • It is going to be interesting now to see how everyone handles the skills shortage in data and AI. It is not like we can magic up a bunch of folks who are skilled in both data and analytics fundamentals plus AI. I predict that this, along with cybersecurity, will remain hot areas for employment for the foreseeable future.

Some light reading…

Some recent episodes

From the Data Revolution podcast:

  • Data needs good management – Mark Nicholls – Episode 16

  • Data in manufacturing – Adam Sharman – Episode 15 

  • Ethics and data in games – Catherine Flick – Episode 14 

  • Raising heretics – Linda McIver – Episode 13 

  • Identity is all about data – Steve Wilson – Episode 12

Data Governance for Leaders

Don’t forget to check out my new course, Data Governance for Leaders, which will be running at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) in Sydney, in July this year.

That is all for now. Thanks for reading this 🙏

See you next time 👋

cheers, Kate

PS: You may have noticed that I have changed email newsletter hosting providers again. Hopefully this shift to Beehiiv is the final landing place. Thanks for sticking with me 🙏

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