Infocepts Partner Scott Taylor, also known as the “Data Whisperer,” speaks with Randy Bean, Innovation Fellow for Data Strategy at Wavestone and CDO Magazine Editorial Board Member, in a video interview about the importance of data management, his opinion on Generative AI, data driving horizontal value, differentiating data from technology, and how data leaders can hone storytelling.
Taylor has authored “Telling Your Data Story - Data Storytelling to Data Management,” his book on understanding the strategic value of data management. Infocepts is a leading data and analytics services firm and Wavestone is a Paris, France based global consultancy.
Taylor begins the discussion by emphasizing data management. His data philosophy boils down to “truth before meaning” which implies that if one cannot have the foundational truth in data, no meaning can be derived.
According to Taylor, regardless of technological advancements, if the data going in is not accurate, the technique will not perform as expected. The meaning part of the equation includes analytics, data science, data literacy, AI, and ML he adds.
However, the behind-the-scenes part where data starts is as critical as where data ends up, affirms Taylor. Expanding on it, he states that no matter what the hottest things are today or in 10 years, data management will remain a macro trend. He maintains that to deliver good content from ideas, one has to do data management first.
When asked about his opinion on Generative AI and its impact on transformation, Taylor refers to it as the “hottest thing in town.” However, one can get hallucinations if bad data is fed to the LLMs, which makes it critical to feed this powerful tool the right data, he adds.
Sharing a food analogy, Taylor says that good ingredients make a good meal. One of the ironic beauties, he asserts, is with Generative AI and bad data, one can make bigger mistakes faster and at scale.
Adding on, Taylor mentions the talks going around about being data-centric and not model-centric and opines that it is the right way to go forward. He further believes that the future for the data space is bright but one has to deal with the fundamentals of highly trusted, well-structured, expertly governed, and stewarded content that goes into the enterprise systems for better results.
Speaking of the future of data management, Taylor says that it is bright, and a part of his job is to make people enthusiastic about the work they do in this space. He notes that the applications of data, analytics, and AI are tremendous and can bring horizontal value.
Elaborating further, Taylor says that not many departments in an organization can agree to bring value to all other vertical silos across an organization. Whereas what data brings to the table has a horizontal value and CDO is a horizontal function. Data is at the foundational level and organizations must harness it to succeed, he asserts.
Further, to use the data, it must be managed and well delivered across all those applications, says Taylor. He affirms that data management is here to stay, and will not be replaced by machines.
Next, Taylor uses the table analogy, where the columns are the insights and the rows are where the data management comes in. He says that adding columns is easy but building rows is the hard part and that is what he is trying to establish for organizations.
Highlighting data leadership, Taylor says that he wishes for it to become a true C-level thing. He poses the question of whether there is a requirement for all the granular C-levels like CDAO or CIAO.
According to Taylor, the table gets crowded quickly, but having Data Analytics, AI, and the whole suite of capabilities at the big table is critical. Further, differentiating it from the technology side will help many organizations to focus on what they do. Taylor maintains that although the technology still needs to be managed, data is being recognized more as a business-oriented thing for an organization and it is crucial to keep that seat at the table.
Moving forward, he advises CDOs to become good storytellers as they are up against good storytellers in organizations like the CMO. He stresses that everyone is fighting for the funding and laying out the story is a part of the process.
In continuation, he recommends practicing and honing the soft skill of storytelling. Sharing his techniques, Taylor urges people to understand that it is more art than science. He states that even if all the technical boxes are ticked, there are still movies that do not do well and books that are not bestsellers.
There must be an x-factor that makes it a visionary parable that captures the imagination of the organization, and that is what storytelling does, says Taylor.
CDO Magazine appreciates Scott Taylor for sharing insights with our global community.