Who knew the data manager would be so in vogue? Over the past few years, data managers have moved up from the basement - literally - and are heading toward the C-suite. Their roles have escalated in importance, and their departments have been growing in numbers and changing in composition. No longer is the data management department comprised of back-office clerks scrubbing data and searching for discrepancies. The data manager is a new man - or woman - taking a proactive and holistic view of data across the firm. And to do this successfully, data managers are becoming knowledgeable about business issues at every level. We're even hearing whispers about potential new titles such as Data Czar and Chief Data Officers (see our cover story, page 32).
Tim Lind, director, TowerGroup, noticed the change at our April Data Management Conference, "Bracing for Change." Before beginning his prepared remarks, Lind looked out over the 200 data managers in the audience and said, "We've come a long way. Look at all you people, dressed in suits and looking so pretty. We're talking about Data Czars; we've come a long way." Lind spoke from experience as a former data manager who claims he didn't get much respect at his bank, noting that "Even the back-office guys made fun of us." All jokes aside, he continued, "The data administrator in this world is a new type of position, with a new type of respect. I sense it."
We're seeing it, too - just by the level of interest in business issues at our conference. When we first launched the data management event three years ago, the entire agenda was centered on reference data, a very focused, back-office data issue. This year, we went out on a limb and included sessions on trends occurring in the front office as well and discussed how they would affect the data manager's role. We covered topics such as algorithmic trading, data latency, Reg NMS, compliance and, of course, the changing role of the data manager. There was an overwhelming amount of interest in all of these topics, proving that data managers certainly are not just data scrubbers anymore - they are savvy businesspeople who understand that if data is the lifeblood of the industry, they need to comprehend all of the issues facing the industry.
The data manager has a whole new image and level of respect. As Tim put it, the chief technology officer will no longer be the only geek at the party.