CDO Matters Ep. 08 | Be More Social & Less Technical with Dr. Juan Sequeda

October 6, 2022

Episode Overview:

When it comes to leading a successful business, it is crucial to be data-driven. But being overly technical in your approach can often take away from the social needs of your enterprise.

In this episode, Malcolm and Dr. Juan Sequeda focus primarily on four key topics: data as a product, the data mesh phenomenon, why data leaders are incorrectly focused on technology and how taking a more ‘social’ approach — as advocated by the data mesh — will deliver superior results.

Dr. Sequeda breaks down data-related technologies into three core principles that he argues have changed little over the last several decades. CDOs with more of a business or non-technical background will appreciate how Dr. Sequeda is able to distill the complexities of the modern data estate into a simplified model — and warns how various data management vendors continue to complicate by focusing too much on software tools and features.  

While exploring ways for data leaders to extricate themselves from technology-first approaches, the two explore the growing trend towards data as a product and how CDOs can benefit from it. Dr. Sequeda shares his ‘ABC’ framework for approaching data as a product that CDOs from all backgrounds can quickly use within their data organizations.

Dr. Sequeda both challenges and acknowledges the benefits of data centralization during a discussion focused on how master data management (MDM) is still needed by all organizations despite the decentralized approach advocated by the data mesh. Ultimately, it should be no surprise that a noted scholar on knowledge graphs believes that context and semantics should drive more modern approaches to governance and MDM — where the context or use case of data ultimately determines what rules/policies should be defined rather than the data itself.  

This episode of CDO Matters will help less technical CDOs understand the underlying data ‘semantics and why the data mesh — most especially the ‘data as a product’ phenomenon — is worthy of consideration. Prioritizing efforts to integrate product management disciplines in data management — at both centralized and decentralized levels — will ultimately help data leaders to drive superior results by being more driven socially.  

Key Moments

  • [4:24] Bridging Tech and Business
  • [6:06] Defining Data Mesh for Your Organization
  • [8:20] A Social-first Approach to the Data Mesh
  • [10:52] What Comes After Data Decentralization?
  • [15:10] The 3 Principles of the Data Stack
  • [16:01] Modern Data Developments and How Data Software Categories Drive the Conversation
  • [17:05] Social vs. Cultural Business Approaches
  • [20:15] Metadata Serving as the Glue Behind Data
  • [23:12] Operational Focus of the Data Mesh
  • [25:20] The Relevance of Master Data Management (MDM) Today
  • [28:30] Powering a Data Fabric with a Semantic Layer
  • [33:20] Data Centralization through Governance

Key Takeaways

Bridging Technology and Business for CDOs [5:05 — 6:03]

“I would say you need to have people on your team who can be those bridges…who will be able to fill that gap [between technology and business]. As a leader, you want to understand the overview of things, but you also want to feel empowered by having the best people around you.” — Dr. Juan Sequeda

Is Data Mesh a Software Category? [7:16 — 8:14]

“Data mesh is a social-technical paradigm shift, it is not something you buy… if somebody is selling you a data mesh, please run far away as fast as you can from that vendor because they are selling you B.S.” — Dr. Juan Sequeda

The 3 Principles of the Data Stack [15:06— 16:49]

“We talk about the modern data stack…look at the principles…here is this box and it has inputs and outputs. It is the three main boxes. One is the box that moves data. Data comes in, data comes out. Then you have another box where data comes in, questions come in and answers come out. That is your storage and compute…then you have another box where different questions come out. That is your analytics.” — Dr. Juan Sequeda

The Problem with Being Overly Tech-Focused [17:05 — 17:42]

“The issue here is that we have been defining success from a technical perspective, which is ‘my data is now in one place,’ but that was not the goal…define success from the social perspective about the needs of the business.” — Dr. Juan Sequeda

About the Guest

Dr. Juan Sequeda is the Principal Scientist at data.world and the co-host of the Catalogs & Cocktails podcast. Juan holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin and is a noted scholar and researcher in the fields of semantic technologies, including knowledge graphs. He is a frequent public speaker at data and analytics conferences across the globe and is passionate about helping data leaders implement more modern and innovative approaches to both data strategy and data management.  

Episode Links & Resources:


How can today’s Chief Data Officers help their organizations become more data-driven? Join former Gartner analyst Malcolm Hawker as he interviews on thought leaders on all things data management – ranging from data fabrics to blockchain and more — and learns why they matter to today’s CDOs. If you want to dig deep into the CDO Matters that are top-of-mind for today’s modern data leaders, this show is for you.

Malcolm Hawker
Malcolm Hawker is an experienced thought leader in data management and governance and has consulted on thousands of software implementations in his years as a Gartner analyst, architect at Dun & Bradstreet and more. Now as an evangelist for helping companies become truly data-driven, he’s here to help CDOs understand how data can be a competitive advantage.


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