A data architect is a person designated to be responsible for the design, structure, organization, and maintenance of data for a particular company or project. Just as an architect carefully designs the blueprints for a building, a data architect carefully maps out the structure and organization of the relevant data for a company or project. He or she can work for a single company and focus entirely on internal data or work for a database group and assist multiple companies with their data.
A data architect fills a number of roles and maintains a number of responsibilities. He or she is responsible for evaluating the use of data and relating data directly to the goals and practices of a company in a way that provides clear results. Someone in this position must ensure the accuracy and accessibility of all important data, and he or she is responsible for knowing what data is important and why. He or she often acts as a middleman, deducing the data needs of a particular group and explaining the importance and use of the data most relevant to them.
There are a number of tools that someone in data architecture uses throughout his or her career. Beyond basic databases, a data architect often creates something called a metadata registry. This is in a sense a database that catalogs what data is available as opposed to cataloging the actual data. A metadata registry can organize data on a much more massive scale than a basic database, because it is not required to contain the information itself, but only to reference it.
Nearly all data architects are familiar with data-oriented computer languages such as SQL. In an attempt to simplify a rather complicated system, SQL is a data querying language based on retrieving data stored according to mathematical relations. Rather than storing numbers, SQL databases represent all types of information in mathematical terms and use mathematical tools to sort the information. Other data-oriented languages, such as XML, are likely to be regular tools by people in this position.