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Yesterday I attended the initial awareness session of the “Full Scale” Data Architects. We had an open discussion on what it is, could be or should be.

One of the questions raised during that session and afterwards on LinkedIn was how to explain what we – data architects – do.

Although data architecture and architecture (in construction) have many differences, I still see an analogy.

When asked what I do, I also make that analogy. It doesn’t cover it completely of course but it is often enough for the first introduction.

I design “something”, make the blueprint and lay the foundation.

And that while taking into account all wishes, (legal) requirements, environmental factors, durability, change and – although in data architecture we try as much as possible to be technology-independent – available “building material”. It’s basically finding the right balance as Ronald Damhof put it.

In practice the architect may also be the contractor that takes the lead in the construction. This can be an incentive for some but not for others1.

But I always keep an eye – or delegate it – that the construction is according to plan. When necessary I even change the plan (due to external changes, available building materials).

I should therefore have an overview and be part of a whole team that I can trust.

And I shouldn’t make it more complex than strictly necessary, certainly not when I try to explain it to someone else.

Of course it can definitely help if you have ever constructed things yourself – and I did -, but mainly from the point of view of the problems you can run into. Otherwise you risk that you start with a technical bias (yes, it does happen to me occasionally).

  1. Another question was how to make data architecture attractive to teenagers so that they will study it, if there were any real studies about it.
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