New Year’s tradition holds that ending one year in the data industry requires that you create an accompanying list of predictions for the next. 

But I’ve never been one for tradition.

So instead of telling you that “machine learning will drive industry-wide improvements to data governance efforts in 2023,” or “DataOps strategies will be broadly implemented as enterprise businesses continue to recognize the value of their data,” I’m going to offer some advice: 

Show me the money.

That’s it. That’s all. 

In 2023, sh*t’s going to get real. And if you want to keep your job in data governance or data analytics amid this wave of layoffs, you need to explain — no, you need to show — how your data and your work, your projects, your role is aligned with the top-level strategic and organizational goals of the company that will make or save money.

Data is the key to thriving during the looming recession

Almost everyone’s expecting some kind of recession in 2023, and the wave of layoffs we’re seeing in the tech industry is probably a leading indicator that a downturn is on the way. 

Fortunately, not all companies fare poorly during a recession. In fact, during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the top 10% of companies didn’t merely survive, “...their earnings climbed steadily throughout the downturn and continued to rise afterward.”

Consider two well-known, successful companies founded during the Great Recession: Airbnb and Uber, founded in 2008 and 2009, respectively. What do they have in common? They’re both data-intensive and data-driven — in fact, Airbnb’s fifth employee was a data scientist.

But not content to be merely founded during the Great Recession, Airbnb also weathered the pandemic-related downturn of 2020. And again, they did it by focusing on data-driven business decisions. 

These decisions were so successful that Founder and CEO Brian Chesky not only recovered from an 80% fall in revenue during the first eight weeks of the pandemic, he eventually led his company to an IPO of $100 billion, the biggest IPO of 2020. (data.world’s own CEO and Co-founder Brett Hurt shared his thoughts on this incredible turnaround in his recent op-ed in the International Business Times.)

The takeaway? Data and data-driven decision-making is more crucial than ever during rocky economic times. And that means data-focused employees are crucial, too.

But it’s up to you to prove it.

Types of data projects to prioritize in 2023

The type of data project you want to prioritize in 2023 is the type that shows an immediate and strong ROI and can be clearly linked to your business’ top-line strategy.

With that in mind, here are a couple of suggestions:

Migrate your data to the cloud

If you’re running the data show for your organization, a cloud data migration should absolutely be a priority for 2023. Moving your data to the cloud helps to modernize your approach to data storage and governance, provides limitless scalability and flexibility, improves security, and — most importantly when you’re trying to save the business money — reduces costs.

Data enablement via Agile Data Governance

Data-driven decisions are proven to be more efficient, more transparent, and better aligned with company-wide goals. But to empower all your employees to make their decisions based on data, you need to define policies that are aligned to the strategic goals of your company in a way that enables easy use of data while also controlling for compliance and risk. Agile Data Governance programs need to have strong business champions who can identify success and highlight it to your executive leadership. 

A great analogy for your agile data governance policies are the brakes on a car: they’re not there to slow you down; they’re there to let you drive fast safely. 

Data discovery with metrics

Putting an emphasis on data discovery aligned with metrics that measure adoption and usage of data is another way to prove ROI while your organization is tightening its belt. Data discovery makes the most-recent, most-accurate data easily discoverable and usable across your business. Well defined adoption metrics empowers you to see who’s using your data, for what purpose, and how it's enabling your workforce — it gives you the tools and metrics to show your leadership the value data brings to the enterprise as a whole. 

Aligning data initiatives with business priorities will help you win 2023

In 2023, the leaders — and survivors — in the data space will be those who can explicitly link their data and data governance projects to their business’ bottom line. And if you’re not making or saving money for your company — or if you can’t prove it — your time might be better spent tuning up your resume.

Prioritize data projects like the above and share the results with your leadership, and you’ll prove your value and importance to your enterprise business.