Michael Tantrum Solution on the Spot: From Theory to Data Action

One of my favorite features on the Data Driven Leadership podcast is Solution on the Spot. I present a problem to a data expert, and they work out solutions in real time while you listen in. Season one, episode six has this gem with Michael Tantrum about turning theoretical modernization recommendations into actionable steps.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Michael Tantrum, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised. Not only does he have that great New Zealand accent, but he’s been building data warehouses for over 30 years—since way before we even called them that!

Here’s the problem I presented Michael:

Let’s say a company has paid good money to smart data consultants to see what their organization needs to do to stay current. They now have reports on data transformation, but they don’t know how to take meaningful action from them. They don’t know where to start, and they’ve come to us for help.

Here are some of Michael’s key points:
  • It’s a common problem to get stuck trying to go from a theoretical idea to actually creating the real artifacts to start a project and keep it going.
  • I always ask first, “Do you have technology investments you’ve already made that we have to make use of?” If you do, we’ll start there. If not, and there are gaps, we dig into reference architectures.
  • Next, we define what you’ll need to get to the start line.
  • Then we ask what it looks like to provide value and operate from a prototype iteration approach.
  • We build a prototype to solve the first issue, your first question from a business user, and this doesn’t take long—maybe a few hours, or a day.
  • Now that we can all see the prototype, we can build on it. We iterate and refine. It’s a great way to get that first piece in production, and the process shows how the technology works but also how the people work, and lets us know where knowledge and skills gaps are.

Michael is a fascinating, incredibly smart person to talk to. You don’t want to miss the rest of this discussion. Listen to the podcast for more of his answer in this Solution on the Spot.



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