Julie Smith, Director of Data and Analytics at Alation, speaks with Robert Lutton, VP of Sandhill Consultants and Editorial Board Vice Chair at CDO Magazine, in a video interview about data literacy for better AI adoption, data governance as an enabler, workplace diversity and inclusion, and the need to invest in people.
Alation is an enterprise data intelligence solutions provider enabling self-service analytics, cloud transformation, and data governance.
When asked how data literacy helps with AI adoption, Smith states that it is necessary to understand how people interpret data literacy. She adds that being data literate could mean comprehending bar charts or SQL queries or understanding databases.
For better AI adoption, people must understand and embrace the impact of AI, and data literacy helps in building trust in AI, says Smith. She notes that it is important to demystify what AI is, and one of the challenges to that is that the more complicated AI gets, the harder it is to understand.
Therefore, to decode why AI does what it does, organizations must develop data literacy for people to comprehend better, says Smith. Taking this further, she states that AI developers could leverage a healthy dose of data literacy.
Adding on, Smith urges data scientists and fresh data graduates to understand that data does not always give expected results. She also cautions against assuming that the data is fine and urges them to assess what can go wrong with the data.
Commenting on data governance, Smith maintains that it is an enabler. By aligning definitions, it allows people to understand data, its quality, provenance, standards, and points of integration, making it easier to work with data.
While it is not all about compliance, regulations, and policies, having compliance is necessary. She opines that despite the regulations, it is imperative to have transparency, embrace data experts, and make them a part of the data governance journey.
Enforcing governance makes the data world trickier to navigate as it gives off a restrictive feeling. As people have their own choices, they might decide to continue living in their databases and find their solace there, she adds.
Therefore, organizations must work in a way that the people are not perplexed by the idea of governance, says Smith. Similarly, when it comes to data democracy, any democracy needs its rules to work efficiently and it is about responsible access to data.
Moving forward with the aspects of workplace diversity and inclusion, Smith mentions the existence of gender differences but asserts that the needle has moved. She affirms that statistics have proven workplace imbalance between males and females both in data and tech space.
To address this, Smith wishes to try and increase representation and is passionate about the people aspect of the “people, process, and technology” equation. Advocating the much-needed cultural change, in the data and business space, she states that people and empathy are the strengths.
Unfortunately, says Smith, people forget people. Highlighting that, she states that people are a part of the solution and experts must learn to engage, communicate, and present to people in a way that they understand their needs.
As a takeaway, Smith says that data is never what it seems, thus one must always question it. She advises young professionals to try and understand the business needs.
In conclusion, Smith states that governance can be fun as it increases the capabilities to do things right. She affirms that one can be a data radical while keeping the governance guardrails.
CDO Magazine appreciates Julie Smith for sharing her invaluable data insights with our global community.