• Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 31 - Confessions of a Data Man

Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 31 - Confessions of a Data Man

With special guest Michael Lonnon, Industry Marketing Lead at HSO UK.

This episode covers:

✓ What inspired Michael's book

✓ Who should read it

✓ How you can get a free copy



Welcome everyone to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m your host Michael Lonnon, and in today’s episode the tables get turned on me as HSOs Head of Marketing, Nicola Hannay, interviews me.

The reason for this is that I recently finished a book called Confessions of a Data Man – and Nicola thought it fun to grill me on why I would do such a thing, what it takes to write a book, and what you might find when you pick up your free copy.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Nicola Hannay

You recently launched your very first book, Confessions of a Data Man. Tell me what inspired you to write a book about data for your first book?

Michael Lonnon

There are two reasons behind it. The first one is really simple I have been working within the data industry for so long and I’ve written lots of different blogs and content, so I had all these pieces so not put it all together and create some sort of theme. You might find you pretty much have a book there. It transpires putting things together in a book, in some sort of an order is not an easy thing. The second thing is I have read a ton of data books and by and large, they’re very good but they’re written by CDOs, technical individuals, those sorts of people. I just wanted to take things, down to my level, and take from my own experiences and apply them to the real world that I live in and put a different spin on it. I suppose it’s a more relaxed look at data whilst appreciating that data has value.

Nicola Hannay

What makes it different from all the other books about data out there?

Michael Lonnon

It’s written in layman’s terms. I have said I’m not a data expert. I’m not a technical individual but I do understand the value of data. I get why organisations should look to harness it and manage it better. I wanted to talk about data strategy, governance master data and data culture, those sorts of things in a way I understand. For example, there’s lots of different stories in there that I’ve applied to my own life. For example, driving down the Champs-Élysées in a French taxi and if you’ve never done that, I would suggest you don’t but if you have, there’s no road markings, it’s utter chaos and it scared the hell out of me, but it reminded me of most companies approach data management. It’s a complete mess where there’s a ton of cars, barely missing each other. So it’s just taking those real-world experiences and putting them into layman’s terms but in a way that anybody within data or can can relate to.

Nicola Hannay

That’s one thing I really liked about it that you’ve got loads of examples in there. You do bring it to life in the real world. There were lots of quotes as well from other people, so you’ve clearly spent a lot of time reading around your subject to draw all this together. Although it’s a serious subject, you’ve managed to do it in a light-hearted way, which makes it easy to pick up on and read. Admittedly, I have never read a data book before but when you asked me to read yours, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was for me to read.

Michael Lonnon

Lots of people don’t know, or probably don’t appreciate that actually data’s been around forever. There are quotes around when Sherlock Holmes is talking about data, how he pulls together data to build a picture of these particular cases of the villain and what they’re doing and what they’re up to. He can predict what they’re going to do next. From a data perspective, if you think about that, that’s exactly what we’re doing today. Data tells a story and using that story, we can anticipate what customers are going to do, how products are going to sell, what’s going to happen next. Lots of people have learned lots of lessons that we’re now only just uncovering ourselves, so its stripped back down to that.

Nicola Hannay

You’ve written a book about data and the many lessons, any advice for any would be writers?

Michael Lonnon

I’d say it’s a really interesting, fulfilling experience and process but it’s not for the faint hearted. If times on your side, and you think you’ve got a subject you think resonates, and you believe in it enough and you’ve sat on it for a while and let it cogitate in your mind and after that period of time, you still think  it’s a cracking idea; it’s still got some value, go and speak to someone and say, look, I’m thinking about writing a book about X and if say, ‘that’ll be interesting’ you’ve got that validation. The other thing is, when you’re putting the book together, try to be fairly relaxed about it. I find that if you’re worried about how it’s all coming together all the time; if you’re worried about how it might end, when you’re only at the beginning, you won’t get very far. So just treat it as a relaxed ‘hobby’.

Nicola Hannay

Did you get any advice from somebody who has written a book? I wouldn’t know where to begin. I wouldn’t know how to go about writing and how you make it flow? How do you decide what comes first? What comes next? What’s the order?

Michael Lonnon

It depends on what the topic is about. When it comes to data management, the topic has a structure. It’s about understanding why you’re capturing data in the first place, what you hope to do with it, how will you manage it, when you you’ve got it, who’s using it, that sort of thing and you can write stories that follow a kind of a linear sequence. There’s probably two other bits of advice there. One, read a lot. In your own reading you’ll understand how flow narrative should work in a book, if you do read a lot that comes a little bit more naturally. The other thing is if you do have anybody you can lean on, I know people have written books, and they offered advice. If you do know anyone who’s done this themselves, use them as your source. As them about the content. Look for other people don’t do it in silo that’s probably another lesson as well.

Nicola Hannay

What did you enjoy most about the process of writing a book?

Michael Lonnon

I enjoyed, the process of putting my own spin on data. It’s almost like a diary, in some sense and I quite liked that. At the time, particularly the beginning, I didn’t really have an outlet for content writing, so it proved a good outlet for emptying my brain onto a piece of paper. Otherwise, I would have had all these ideas and wouldn’t know what to do with them. So the most enjoyable thing is it allowed me to download. That was quite cathartic.

Nicola Hannay

You’ve got this book; I’ve got my copy but here’s your moment: where can someone get it?

Michael Lonnon

We’ve got very limited print run, but if you do hurry and go to www.hso.com/confessions you can download or you can request a hard copy, but it’s first come first served. We can get you a soft copy, so you at least get something so do visit there. As this is a plug just need to say this has only been possible thanks to HSO.


In typical confessions style, here’s a confession for you now – I’m not a data expert. But I understand and see the value of data, every day.

Confessions is an exposition of my experiences of working in the data world, from listening to data experts speaking at events, from talking with those who are data experts, and then getting knee deep with the companies developing the solutions that enable you to extract more value from data.

The difference between my book and all of the great one’s out there is that Confessions takes a layman’s terms view of data using my life experiences. I’m no expert, so it’s all I have to give.

But it’s something anyone at any level with an interest in data can read and relate to.

Is Confessions of a Data Man any good? Well, I’ll leave that to your judgement.

You can grab your FREE copy at hso.com/confessions

And remember, without data you’re just another person with an opinion.

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