How 140 characters will change your life as a data professional

Fast! That?s the reality of today?s world. It applies to our personal and work lives. People want information, and they want it fast. It is really not a new concept. In the IT arena, we have always wanted our problem tickets resolved fast. We have always wanted a speedy response from fellow project members. We want business requirements as soon as we can get our hands on them so that we can start our data model. Time = money is the prime motivator in the business world.

Recently I?ve been doing quite a bit of reading about the impact of social media on a business?s reputation. An errant tweet from an employee can go viral with the company paying a heavy price of public discontent. A simple Facebook post can explode into a major corporate blunder if not handled properly. It?s obvious that business can not ignore the impact of social media on their success or failure. We have truly moved into an environment where social networks now wield some real power. Another important characteristic to note here is that these scenarios occur very quickly, within minutes and hours.

As I do my research, my mind drifts to thinking about how I, as a data professional, fit into this social media picture. My thoughts are not about my blogging, tweeting or presence on the social media discussion forums. I am pretty comfortable with my personal social media presence. My thoughts turn to how these social networks impact my business life as a data modeller. I know my business can not ignore the vast amount of data tossed around inside and across these social networks.

140 bytes? It is amazing what can be conveyed in 140 bytes. People are pretty creative with their tweets. Recipe tweets are perhaps one of the most fascinating tweets to follow. Maureen Evans (@cookbook) is one of the most prolific tweeter of recipes. Here?s one of her tweets for an espresso BBQ sauce.

Espresso BBQ Sauce: Happy Fathers’ Day! Simmr?c ketchup/3T vinegr&espresso&brsug&oil/T worces/2t celeryseed&garlc&ging/~dash cayenne. Yld c.

Let?s use Maureen?s tweets as an example on how Twitter will change my world of data modeling, data analytics and business intelligence. In 140 characters she conveyed a complete recipe. There are data elements disguised as ingredients and business rules disguised as recipe directions. Think of the analytical possibilities of determining trends in recipes, ingredients and marketing to foodies.

The above example translates well into the business world. Posts on a corporation?s Facebook wall or tweets mentioning the corporation contain valuable consumer information. We are now seeing a movement to capture, transform and use social media data in our businesses. Data is the key word here. These new data processes will cal upon us to use our skills to organize and turn the data into information that our business can leverage.

That brings me back to speed. As data professionals, we have worked in environments where time has been a major factor in our successes and failures. Being able to produce a sound design within a project?s time-to-market timeline can be challenging. I see the quick evolution of these social networks into reliable data sources forcing us to think in different ways and respond at a faster pace. These are definitely untraditional data sources that are largely unstructured. Our creativity will be called upon when working with this data.

What does the future hold for data professionals? It?s hard to say. What is obvious is that data professionals can no longer ignore social networks. Too many of us see these networks as annoyances rather than tools and sources of information. I suggest you revaluate your involvement and knowledge of social networks. It?s best to jump into the social network pool now and get your feet wet. I suspect you will soon be called on to help your business leverage social network data. The bottom line is that if you chose to ignore social networks, your career and relevance as a data professional will diminish and disappear as did floppy disks and punched cards.

Now, can someone tweet me a recipe for creme brulee?   

Tom Bilcze

Modeling Global User Community President

I’ve reached 3NF in “Why Be Normal?” How normalized are you?

Tom

Find out more about ?Why Be Normal?? at http://erwin.com/whybenormal/. Want to know what ?We Be Normal!? is all about? Visit https://communities.ca.com/web/ca-modeling-global-user-community/to get the whole story.

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