For so long, data has been the domain of the IT department, but in 2015 we could see a new role emerge: the data designer, a marriage between analytics and design.
Most of the data that exists today has been created very recently. In fact, in 2013, IBM claimed that 90 per cent of the world’s data had been generated since 2011. This is in part due to the proliferation of online services, from cloud computing and social networks to the hundreds of different apps available for just about any subject you can think of, as well as millions of sensors collecting huge amounts of information.
What data does, of course, is enable businesses to make smarter decisions more quickly. The ability to use data in real time to see what’s working for a particular department – and what’s not – is key to gaining a competitive edge in this day and age. But to do that, the right tools and processes have to be in place to get the right information to the right people at the right time.
This has always been the responsibility of IT professionals and big, heavy and complex software platforms that crunch through vast volumes of data to find little nuggets of useful information. But now a new approach is emerging, one that aims to make it less about data and more about knowledge.
The data designer’s role will be to unite data analysis and UX design. The thinking behind this is that the data designer will be a cross between IT worker, who does the number crunching; the graphic designer, who will know how to present the data in the most user-friendly way; and someone who will understand the context of the data and be in the best position to make sense of it.
It could be that the data designer isn’t actually a person, but more a process or system put in place to enable closer collaboration between analysts and designers to ensure data is at the centre of the design process. Either way, the end game is the same: to produce knowledge rather than data. Some may argue that they are one and the same, but data without the key additions from the data designer (analytics, context and easy to understand) is ultimately meaningless.
To make sense of all the data that a business is creating, monitoring and grabbing from various sources, a more design-oriented approach is needed. One that places knowledge – rather than just data – into the hands of those who need it most, and who will know how to make the most of it.