When asked about his success, the famous scientist Isaac Newton said, “If I’ve seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In this profound statement is a reminder for us all, and it's doubly true for those of us in the world of technology. 
 The need for this reminder is partially a result of the vocabulary we use in our industry. We describe mundane new versions as innovations and new ways of doing things as disruptive. We love to talk about revolutions and breakthroughs. While there are no doubt huge strides being made in technology, we are often victims of our own hyperbole. So, too, in the world of data.
 
In some ways data has had a renaissance over the last five years. Big data is on every executive agenda. Data lakes have popped up all over the geography of business. Data Science is considered a hot profession. These are just a few examples of how data is on the mind of business. 
 

How new is our data story?

But the story of data is not a new one. For at least three decades, pundits have been proclaiming an age of data, and technology constructs have been built around the collection and analysis of data. The venerable Data Warehouse as we conceive of it today is a 30-year old idea.
 
While technologies exist today to automate data infrastructure, to ingest and visualize terabytes of data, and to combine governance, security, and business agility, we must realize that the data warehouse is indeed the giant on whose shoulders our industry stands. We must give heed to a technology that was created very appropriately for that era, in which data sources were not multiplying and ever-changing and the democratic culture of data self-service was still distant. 
 
The current era calls for openness, modularity and democratization but in a way that does not force organizations to rip out everything they have and replace it overnight. Revolutions can start with evolution. Enterprises can change department by department. Business and IT can work together to usher in change without being daggers drawn.

ebook: Five Keys to Bridging the Gap Between Business and IT
 
So while we are in a time automation, we still respect the data giants who paved the way for the incredibly possibilities in data that we enjoy today.
 
The first commenter to this post will receive a copy of Steven Hawking’s edited book, On the Shoulders of Giants.