Data and BI Architect, Data Modeler, Agilist, Data Shaman
Larry Burns has worked in IT for more than 40 years as a Data and BI Architect, database developer, DBA, data modeler, application developer, consultant, and teacher. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Washington, and a master’s degree in software engineering from Seattle University. He has spent the last 20 years working for a global Fortune 200 manufacturing company.
He is a former instructor and advisor in the certificate program for Data Resource Management at the University of Washington in Seattle.
He has written numerous articles for TDAN.com and DMReview.com and is the author of Building the Agile Database (Technics Publications LLC, 2011), Growing Business Intelligence (Technics Publications LLC, 2016), and Data Model Storytelling (Technics Publications LLC, 2021).
What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?
I started out teaching business school, and I did all the IT work at the school where I taught. This got me interested in the relationship between business and technology, and how each could help to reinforce the other. I saw data management as being the interface between these two worlds.
What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?
Besides my three books, I think my most significant accomplishment is demonstrating the practical value of data modeling and data management to the success of agile software development projects. My data work has been instrumental to the success of many of our largest and most critical applications, and that contribution has been noted both by our senior management team and by the developers and project managers I have worked with.
What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?
Educating software developers and project managers about the value of data management is an ongoing challenge, as is teaching DM skills to developers. These are critical skills that our colleges and universities are not teaching the next generation of IT professionals!
Also, as application development becomes more microservices-based, it will be important to teach our IT people the importance of having an over-arching architecture and design, and canonical data models to support the services schemas and underlying data persistence stores.
How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?
As application development moves more toward microservices, domain-driven development and CI/CD, both data and applications will become more fragmented. This will make having an underlying high-level application and data architecture even more important, along with canonical (enterprise or subject-area) data models.
Do you have any planned next steps for your career?
I am retiring from active work in order to care for a disabled spouse, but am still planning to contribute to our profession from home via articles, online lectures, and webinars, etc.
What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far? Why has it been so important to you?
Never hesitate to take the next step in your career, and don not let fear or complacency hold you back. Always be looking ahead and preparing yourself for your next accomplishment.
Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?
My childhood dream was to become a stand-up comedian. My sense of humor peeks through a lot in my writing, even when I am writing about technical topics.
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