Breaking Down Silos with Data Mesh at Data Summit 2023

Data mesh continues to rise as a popular antidote to big data silos, where isolated, untapped data stands only to impede—rather than drive—business value.

At Data Summit 2023, Pratima Tripurneni, VP, head of enterprise data delivery at Northern Trust Corp., led the session, “Overcoming Big Data Silos With Data Mesh,” to explore how Northern Trust’s recent digital modernization initiative provides a thorough example of how data mesh can transform an enterprise to remediate challenges in data sharing, management, and governance.

The annual Data Summit conference returned to Boston, May 10-11, 2023, with pre-conference workshops on May 9.

Tripurneni explained that data mesh is, fundamentally, a paradigm shift; as an architecture, it is a decentralized data management approach that shifts data ownership and control to individual domain teams, promoting scalability, agility, and better alignment with business goals.

Data mesh is anchored on self-service and reusability with clear business ownership, operating from four guiding principles and strategies:

  • Domain-driven business ownership: Shift to a business driven and IT enabled operating model to empower agility and speed.
  • Self-serve data infrastructure: Build intuitive self-service enabling consumers to get the data they need when and how they need it.
  • Data-as-a-Product: Develop fit-for-purpose data products for decision making and insights with data that can be trusted and reused.
  • Federated governance: Enforce robust governance and security to keep the enterprise, its partners, and its clients safe.

The key idea is for data mesh to “break down monolithic data platforms and complex pipelines into simpler nodes that can be managed easier,” said Tripurneni.

Data governance also plays a crucial role in breaking down data silos, which empowers business users to make intelligent and informed decisions with data context.

With this data mesh architecture employed, Tripurneni emphasized the following benefits, as exemplified by Northern Trust’s digital modernization initiative:

  • Reduction in data management costs
  • Improved time-to-market and reduction in duplicated efforts
  • Reduced data and business risk through robust and embedded privacy access and security controls

Ultimately, data mesh targets several pain areas for a data-isolated enterprise, including limited view into data ecosystems, data redundancy, inconsistent nomenclature, varying levels of trust, and IT data ownership impeding time-to-market and innovation.

Tripurneni cautioned that data mesh is not simply a technological shift, but a cultural one as well.

“Data mesh requires a cultural paradigm shift of data to be driven by data owners, supported by custodians, and enabled by tech,” she said.

When these roles work coherently and collaboratively, it supports multiple producers, across multiple applications and consumer personas, across various use cases, democratizing data for an organization’s benefit.

Many Data Summit 2023 presentations are available for review at