As our world becomes more and more driven by technology, the data underlying that technology becomes a more common part of our world, and hence the word used to describe it also becomes more common. With that ubiquity comes the natural evolution that all languages experience. In this case, the plural noun data has been increasing used as a singular noun. Aiding this evolution is the increasing disuse of the singular noun datum.
Some technical writing gurus may argue that following this evolution is fine, but I’m not one of them. Using data as a singular noun introduces an element of informality into technical writing, much the same way that transcribing spoken English does.
It’s very common in speech to employ informal constructs. But more effective technical writing demands that writers avoid informality. So if you want more effective technical writing, remember that datum is a part of data. More precise language means a better presentation of your message to your audience, and that will leave them with a better impression of both you and your brands.