7 Core Functions of a Data Product Owner

by | Last updated May 2, 2024 | Product Management, Team

Organizations are sitting on a goldmine of data. But how do you unlock the true value of this data and transform it into actionable insights that drive business growth? Enter the data product owner, a crucial role that bridges the gap between data and business strategy.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What is a data product?
  • Why organizations need data product owners?
  • 8 core functions of a data product owner
  • Roles similar to data product owners

What is a Data Product?

There is no standard definition. For example, I asked ChatGPT and Google Gemini if they were each data products. Even they don’t agree.

ChatGPT’s Response

is chatgpt a data product?

Gemini’s Response

Indeed, some professionals take a broad view (like ChatGPT) in labelling any application (including higher-level applications like recommendation systems and generative AI products) that drive value from data to be a data product.

Meanwhile, others take a narrower view like Gemini’s response. They suggest that data products are products that use data as the primary component to deliver value. This more specific view focuses the definition of data products that sit at the bottom two layers of the DIKW (data-information-knowledge-wisdom) Pyramid.

dikw pyramid

Everyone tends to agree data products encompass the bottom two layers. Some also think data products span all layers.

 

However both viewpoints would at least view products like data APIs, data warehouses, customer analytics platforms, BI tools, augmented data sets, transactional reports, and data catalogs to be data products.

Why Organizations need Data Product Owners?

Regardless of the definition you prefer, we can all agree that data is no longer an afterthought. Rather, it is the fuel that propels businesses forward. To have a dedicated focus on the data strategy, data product owners ensure that their data products are easily understood, accurate, secure, compliant, and accessible to the authorized users.

Without a dedicated professional overseeing these responsibilities, organizations struggle to convert data into insights.

7 Core Functions of a Data Product Owner

So what exactly does a data product owner do? Let’s dive into sesven core functions that make them masters of the information age.

I. Visionary Leader

Data product owners are the product champions, setting the vision and roadmap for the data product. They work closely with stakeholders across the organization to identify key challenges and opportunities where data can provide solutions. By translating business needs into clear product requirements, they ensure the data product is strategically aligned with overall business objectives.

II.  Collaborative Captain

A data product owner doesn’t operate in a silo. Rather, they orchestrate collaboration between diverse teams, fostering communication between data scientists, engineers, analysts, and business users. This ensures everyone is working towards a shared vision and that technical development aligns with user needs.

III. Backlog Owner

They also serve as the “product owner” role common for Scrum and Scrum-inspired teams. Specifically, they manage the product backlog, writing and prioritizing user stories based on business impact and feasibility. This ensures development efforts are focused on the most critical functionalities that deliver the most value.

IV. Testing Titan

Some data product owners also oversee the testing process, ensuring the product functions as expected and delivers valuable insights to users. User feedback is crucial, and the data product owner incorporates this feedback to iterate and refine the product for optimal user experience.

V. Metrics Mastermind

Data products are designed to drive business outcomes. Therefore, the data product owner defines key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the product’s success. They analyze usage data and user feedback to measure the product’s impact on business goals and identify areas for improvement. This ensures continuous optimization and maximizes the product’s effectiveness.

VI. Communication Captain

Clear communication is paramount. Thus, the data product owner is the central hub of information, keeping stakeholders informed about product progress, challenges, and upcoming features. This transparency fosters buy-in and ensures everyone is aligned on the product’s goals.

VII. Data Domain Defender

Data security and privacy are paramount. Thus, the data product owner plays a crucial role in ensuring that data product adheres to all relevant regulations and best practices for data protection. This includes user data privacy, access controls, and data governance strategies. Sometimes, they own this responsibility but often they coordinate requirements with a security or compliance team.

Roles Similar to the Data Product Owner

Because different organizations often use different titles for similar roles, the distinction among different job role titles are often blurred. However, below is a list of roles that are similar to that of a data product owner:

  • Product Owner: The Data Product Owner role is a subset of the broader Product Owner role. Teams that use Scrum have a dedicated Product Owner who is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team.” (Scrum Guide).
  • Data Product Manager: Sometimes this title is used interchangeably with Data Product Owner. However, generally the Manager label implies a more strategic role, while the Owner label implies a more tactical and more detailed position.
  • Analytics Product Owner/ManagerThese professionals focus on the business intelligence layer on top of the data layer. In organizations that have both roles, the Data Product Owner provides data to Analytics teams whose work output is managed by the Analytics Product Owner/Manager.
  • Data Science Product Owner/Manager: These professionals tend to focus more on deriving insights from the data. Similar to Analytics Product Owners, Data Science Product Owners tend to be key stakeholders of Data Product Owners.
  • AI Product Owner/Manager: These professionals manage the development and product operations for artificial intelligence systems. Likewise, they are key stakeholders of Data Product Owners.

Closing Thought

In conclusion, data product owners are the unsung heroes of the information age. By wielding these seven core functions, they unlock the true potential of data, transforming information into actionable insights and driving data-driven success for their organizations.

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