Is there a data steward in your life?


If you’re a SAS user, no matter what your role—programmer, analyst, statistician or administrator—data is important.

But I’m willing to bet that somewhere in your organization, there’s a group of people who not only care about the data—it’s their passion, their raison d’être. Whether they sit in IT or your own business unit, these people make sure that the data that runs applications and fuels analytics is fit for the purpose. Without them, your data would be a big mess.

Those rock stars of the data world are often called data stewards. They’re the go-to people when you have a question about the how data is collected, managed, stored and curated. They go above and beyond to help out their own groups – and often any others in the organization – to make sure that information is consistent, accurate and reliable.

And on Dec. 9, SAS sponsors International Data Stewards Day – a chance to celebrate those who have the monumental task of managing corporate information.

What makes a good data steward?

Like many jobs, it’s tough to sum up the role of a data steward, but they often are the data coordinator in many organizations. Steve Putman, a contributor to the Data Roundtable blog, wrote a post called “The ideal data steward” that summed up what a data steward does:

Data stewardship is one of the prime positions in any data management organization. The business and technical stewards are the conduit between the organizing functions in the management structure (which determine policies and processes for data management) and the data management functions that perform the actual work, such as data quality, data profiling, architecture and administration.

Putman goes on to identify six characteristics of a data steward: expertise, tenacity, restlessness, motivation, leadership and diplomacy. Many of us have a few of those, but it takes a special breed of people to have all of these. And if you know a good data steward (and you probably do), you know it’s a rare, but valuable, thing.

Nominate a data steward

On International Data Stewards Day, the industry celebrates the Data Steward of the Year. This year, for the fourth straight year, a panel of data management experts will pick the best data steward based on nominations received from around the globe.

Last year, Maureen Spence of Capital One was the 2013 Data Steward of the Year. In her nomination, a colleague noted her commitment to making high-quality data available to all employees. She also got plaudits for her commitment to getting IT and business on the same page while doing the behind-the-scenes work for a large data governance effort.

Do you know a great data steward that deserves a little extra recognition? If so, nominate them by Nov. 21 – and look for an announcement of the winner on Dec. 9.


About Author

Daniel Teachey

Managing Editor, SAS Technologies

Daniel is a member of the SAS External Communications team, and in his current role, he works closely with global marketing groups to generate content about data management, analytics and cloud computing. Prior to this, he managed marketing efforts for DataFlux, helping the company go from a niche data quality software provider to a world leader in data management solutions.

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