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Data Commanders: The 6 Ways They Will Revolutionize Operations

Siemens Dreamer Siemens Dreamer
Siemens Dreamer

Data Commanders: The 6 Ways They Will Revolutionize Operations


Data Governance, Data Scientist, Data Steward.  One’s a corporate program, the next an analyst, the final a manager.  Each one is vitally essential, yet individually they cannot hit the target of providing a complete picture of your data.  While we need each one, we don’t need excessive programs, analysis, or management layers that can further complicate, fragment, and slow down the critical path to actionable intelligence.  What we need is a revolution.  We need simplification and consolidation. We need leaders who will take charge of our mountains of big data and drive it to a predefined end state.  We need Data Commanders.


data commanders.jpgWhat are Data Commanders?

Commanders are those with the “ability to use situational leadership to maximize operational performance. The combination of courage, ethical leadership, judgment, intuition, situational awareness, and the ability to consider contrary views gained over time through training, education, and experience helps commanders make difficult decisions in complex situations.”[1]  Data commanders know how to leverage these skills, abilities, and resources to create high-performing, data rich environments that reveal previously inaccessible intelligence about our operations…and they act on the intelligence.


How will they revolutionize operations?

Data commanders have an essential understanding of operational art – the creative thinking required to design and execute innovative solutions to complex problems.  “Operational art requires a broad vision, the ability to anticipate, and the skill to plan, prepare, execute, and assess.”[2]  Data commanders will employ operational art to revolutionize operations in 6 essential ways:


  1. Generate Organizational Views – Data commanders will take the initiative to understand the complete scope of the organization and how the different business units either interrelate or create friction in their data needs. In addition, they’ll prepare and execute the technology required to create an overarching organizational view for everyone whoneeds it.
  2. Leverage Organizational Views – After identifying the common needs and requirements of different units through a comprehensive organizational view, data commanders synthesize time, energy, and investment to resolve the existing problems of siloed business units.
  3. Execute Proactive Solutions – Data commanders go a step beyond existing problems and anticipate the needs of the business prior to problems arising or the business unit individually identifying. Simply put, they become proactive and execute solutions to potential problems before these problems appear.
  4. Drive Continual Innovation – By leveraging operational art’s creative thinking to problem resolution and executing proactive solutions, data commanders drive continual innovation in operations and resources. They think outside the box to what’s next, distain the word impossible, and seek out emerging technologies to transform fantastical theories into reality. 
  5. Engage Continual Feedback – Operational art also requires the data commander to be engaged in a continual feedback loop. “No man is an island,” and data commanders can’t operate or be effective in a vacuum.  Siloed information is also an island and is precisely what data commanders are attempting to remove.  Silos are best removed and suppressed from reemergence through an iterative process of listening to the feedback of multiple business units.
  6. Empower Accurate Decision-Making – Did you catch that bit about making difficult decisions in complex situations? That’s what Data Commanders do and then empower others to do the same.  Not only do they act and make decisions on items within their scope, they also leverage highly complex big data to provide clear-cut decision points for other key decision-makers.  As such, decision making is more rapid, proactive, and accurate throughout the entire organization.

Where can I find them?

Just look around your company and you’ll realize you already have many data commanders.  They are select members of your data stewards, data scientists, and data governance team we originally discussed.  The difference is whether or not they are empowered to be data commanders.  Most of them are mired in janitorial work cleaning up your data mess

Provide them with the latest technologies and free up their time.  Unleash their potential to change everything about how you operate and watch what they can do.  Let the revolution begin.


[1] US Department of Defense, Joint Publication 3-0: Joint Operations, 11 August 2011, xii,

[2] Ibid., xiii.