Future Enterprise

Defining the Data Native Worker: Gen-D

There is a new generation of data native workers that can help drive better enterprise intelligence. Learn about their characteristics and benefits with IDC.
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Data is the lifeblood of the digital economy, captured within the ecosystems of digital business. It provides insights that inform organizational processes, resulting in actions to deliver value internally and externally. For an organization to be successful in this new digital economy, it must be data driven and have a good data culture, meaning it requires technology and people that can manage data capture through to consumption. There is an ever-growing number of roles that work with data daily to complete tasks, make decisions and affect business outcomes, from technical through to business, from operations to strategy, from the back office to the front office.

Introducing Generation Data (Gen-D)

Regardless of specific roles, there are common traits and behaviors that define a new generation of workers (and citizens), in today’s data-rich world. IDC has defined people in these roles as a generation: “Generation Data” or Gen-D for short. Gen-D workers are data natives – data is what they work in and with to complete their tasks, tactical and/or strategic. For some, data is the natural resource they draw from and manage, for others it is the medium they work in to create an outcome, or it’s the well from which they draw insight and inspiration.

Why are we calling data native workers a generation? Generations are typically chronological, defined by the years in which they were born. Examples from the 20th century include:

  • The Depression Era, Born 1912-1921
  • World War II, Born 1922-1927
  • Post-War Cohort, Born 1928-1945
  • Boomers I (The Baby Boomers), Born 1946-1954
  • Boomers II (Generation Jones), Born 1955-1965
  • Generation X, Born 1966-1976
  • Generation Y (Millennials), Born 1977-1994
  • Generation Z, Born 1995-2012

Gen-D isn’t a chronological generation, but it is a vocational generation, where career and life activities are infused with data, which changes experiences, decisioning and outcomes. What is common between chronological generations and Gen-D is culture shifts. Each chronological generation has developed its own cultural characteristics; Gen-D has a data culture. Everyone in Gen-D understands the importance of data to do their jobs effectively.

Gen-D includes up to a quarter of knowledge workers whose roles and titles include the label ‘data’.  Data engineers manage the capture, cleansing, and containment of data in streams, lakes and warehouses using multiple technologies and modelling methods. Data integration specialists blend data for analytics and reporting. Data architects bridge business and technology with contextual, logical and physical data models and dictionaries.

Data stewards focus on data quality and application of policy, working with data owners to assure protection of data and the individuals represented by the data. We are also seeing the emergence of data ops managers, yet another role required as data ops methods become more prevalent. Business analysts and data scientists work to uncover insights within the data. Data executives work to have oversight across all data intelligence and data management operations, aligning with business initiatives to turn data into a strategic advantage.

These roles are critical in making sure everyone in the organization is well equipped with access to trusted, clean and relevant data.

Want to Belong to Gen-D?

However, anyone can be a data native and belong to Gen-D if they:

  1. Expect and demand to make data-driven decisions.
  2. Expect and demand to know the source and provenance of data provided to them.
  3. Have a highly tuned sense for fake data and information.
  4. Question recommendations from automated, AI-based, systems to ensure they make sense based within the appropriate real-world context and in times of rapid change.
  5. Know when their digital footprint is being used for or against them and act accordingly.
  6. Communicate using data by highlighting key signals and without overwhelming their audience with noise.
  7. Are not overwhelmed by the data diversity, volume, and speed or changing internal and external data sources and architecture but rather embrace it as a resource to generate value.
  8. Ask new questions and are unafraid to go against the status quo when it comes to long-standing KPIs and metrics.
  9. Contribute to the knowledge of data within an organization, increasing levels of data literacy and evangelizing data culture with their co-workers.
  10. They understand their own role and that of the machines they work with as they embrace responsible automation – across business intelligence, data intelligence, and content intelligence processes.

Data is something that has been collected and used throughout history, but Gen-D workers have been born in the era of computing which has allowed for massive storage, processing and analysis of data. Unlike demographic generations, Gen-D will not die off but will continue to live and evolve, bearing future generations of people, processes and technology as we see new species of enterprises and industries emerge in the digital-first economy.

Gen-D workers are striving towards the Future of Intelligence, where insights at scale can be delivered across the enterprise to create a competitive advantage. Learn more about the Future of Intelligence with our eBook, “The Future of Intelligence: Insights at Scale”.

Dan Vesset also contributed to this piece.

Research Director, Data Integration and Data Intelligence Software