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What Developers Can Learn About Data Management from HBO’s Silicon Valley

Ever since its first season aired back in 2014, Silicon Valley has been breaking new ground both in terms of its comedic content and its social commentary on the hugely influential but relatively insular world of Californian big tech.

Its perfectly-pitched characters and inspired plotlines have a lot to teach industry insiders about how to handle a variety of challenges they face. Here is a quick look at a few lessons about data management that were imparted by the show over the course of its 6 seasons.

Scrutinizing the small print is essential

When it comes to managing data, modern businesses need to be incredibly scrupulous about making sure that there are no small flaws in the way that user information is handled and how usage policies are worded to provide access to relevant customers.

This is exemplified by the case of PiperChat, the offshoot company spearheaded by Dinesh in the show which runs into trouble when its parental permission settings are not properly implemented.

The upshot is that all organizations should be willing to drill down into the small print and make sure that there are not small but significant loose threads that need to be tied up before a product goes to market.

Cross-team communication and collaboration must be streamlined

So many of the conundrums that the characters face in Silicon Valley come down to a communications breakdown; if one member of the team decides to go it alone and pursue their own endeavours without keeping their colleagues in the loop, it often leads to mishaps and mishandlings of seemingly straightforward processes.

Since data is the lifeblood of any development scenario, it should be obvious that its management needs to be handled in a way that is clearly and concisely communicated to all participants in a project, regardless of their areas of expertise or their roles within this ecosystem.

Adhering to IP laws is essential

Intellectual property ownership is enshrined in law, in part because of how important it is to the economy, and of course a variety of data types fall under the protection of relevant rules and regulations.

This is something which the Pied Piper boys stumble across early on, and as such face serious repercussions from Hooli (not to be confused with Hulu). In this case it is not just an issue with information ownership itself, but also the ways in which ownership can in part be defined according to who provides the equipment on which data is created.

A similar dilemma emerges with regards to the patenting of technological innovations, which becomes a major theme in the show’s fourth season. It is a lesson which every aspiring tech entrepreneur and development team must learn; there is no shortage of good ideas in the world, but the real challenge comes from implementing them in an original way while not stepping on the toes of anyone else.

While Silicon Valley may provide a snapshot of a particular period in the tech industry, it seems certain that its lessons on data management and many other facets of key operations will remain relevant for years to come.