For a lot of systems, a lot of engineers/programmers often care very little about the "data", and they very often don't need to. E.g. on a high abstraction level your webserver doesn't care if it's sending HTML, JSON or whatever, and here we are just speaking about formats and not even higher semantics of the data.
I think there can be a lot of value in data-focused roles in companies, because there are many (hard) questions around data that are often badly answered as afterthoughts:
- What are the exact semantics of this data?
- How do make sure the data is clean?
- How do we evolve the data over time?