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#38 Four Must Read Books for Data and Analytics Leaders with Randy Bean, John Thompson, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, and Doug Laney

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As we wrap up Season 2 of the Data Chief Podcast, It’s time to once again thank all of our listeners for tuning in and sending Cindi your ideas, and to all of our awesome guests who willingly shared their time and insights along the way.  

This season The Data Chief shared stories such as Sol Rashidi, CAO Estèe Lauder Companies, about how she starts every day by reading for an hour.  Or from Season one, Alberto Rey Villaverdo, Executive Director of Advanced Analytics at VirginMedia, about how he reads an hour or more every single day. It’s those stories that have inspired this special end-of-season episode.

In this podcast, Cindi is joined by four distinct authors with must-read books, two new that are new to bookshelves, and two that are time-tested. Be sure to check out the companion blog on thedatachief.com for other books Cindi recommends as well.

In this episode you’ll hear from 

Doug Laney on Infonomics: How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information as an Asset for Competitive Advantage

Key Takeaways

  • From Randy Bean, Developing a data culture is an ongoing process: Becoming data-driven or developing a data culture is not a destination, it’s an ongoing process that never truly ends. In fact, the most sophisticated data companies are often the most worried about how they’re doing. This mindset of continued iteration and improvement is what fuels innovation. When you feel like you have it all figured out, think again.
  • From John Thompson, When building an analytics team, hybrid models deliver the best of both worlds: Although more complex than other organizational models, hybrid data teams allow you to meet the needs of your business in a faster, more scalable, and more effective way. How? At any given time, high-volume data professionals will be focused on repetitive tasks like data acquisition, data integration, feature engineering, modeling, and feeding data objects up the chain, while artisanal data scientists directly interface with the subject matter experts embedded across various lines of business. 
  • From Cole Knussbaumer Knaflic, Shape data stories with your audience in mind: When presenting data, it’s important to understand who your audience is. What do they care about? How will this information impact them? What action should they take after receiving it? Tailoring your data story to them and building a narrative arc that takes them along for the journey is key to creating the kinds of a-ha moments that stick.
  • From Doug Laney, Data monetization requires innovative thinking: For many organizations, the value of their data outweighs the value of the rest of their business. Instead of focusing on the limitations of regulations like GDPR or HIPPA when going to monetize it, try to think outside the box. Can your data help you develop a new product or service? Can it forge a partner relationship? Can you sell a derivative of it? The possibilities are limitless.

Key quotes

“What data allows you to do, is to try new things and see if you can be more competitive, see where you can gain insights. It’s very much an iterative process. So, all of those notions tied into this idea of “fail fast, learn faster.” – Randy Bean

“I really believe that you need the analytics organization reporting into a line of business function. People say, ‘Well, it could be the CIO.’ Yeah, but you need the person who’s driving the initiatives to either have greater power, or peer level power to the senior executives, the SVPs and C-level executives. A lot of people don’t understand that when you’re doing analytics, you really are driving change in an organization. To really have value realization, you’re going to bring forth insights and ideas and new ways of doing things, and that’s going to drive change. If you don’t have someone at the top supporting that, change isn’t going to happen.” – John Thompson

“I often will teach [storytelling with data] through the narrative arc. There’s a plot. Tension is introduced. That tension builds in the form of a rising action. It reaches a point of climax. There’s a falling action, a resolution. People are hard wired to connect with information that is coming at them in roughly that form, because we’ve used stories for so much of our history. Just making that, really bringing that back to practical application, it means thinking about our audience and figuring out what is the tension in the scenario. The tension matters to them because if we can identify that, that’s the piece that really can help us drive people to understanding and action.” – Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

“The old adage is you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So I think because most organizations don’t measure the value of their data, some don’t even measure the quality of their data, they’re in a really poor position to get the resources or budgets necessary to manage data as an actual asset.” – Doug Lane

About Randy Bean

Randy Bean is an industry thought leader, author, and speaker in the field of data-driven business leadership. He is known for his frequent columns in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and The Wall Street Journal.

His book, Fail Fast, Learn Faster: Lessons in Data-Driven Leadership in an Age of Disruption, Big Data, and AI, will be published on August 31, 2021.

Bean is founder and CEO of NewVantage Partners, a strategic advisory firm to Fortune 1000 companies which he founded in 2001.

Bean also serves as co-chair of the James Merrill House, an internationally acclaimed writers residency program. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and resides in Boston, MA and Stonington Borough, CT.

About John Thompson

John is an international technology executive with over 30 years of experience in the data and advanced analytics fields.  Currently, John is responsible for the global Advanced Analytics & Artificial Intelligence team and efforts at CSL Behring.

Prior to CSL, John was an Executive Partner at Gartner, where he was management consultant to market leading companies in the areas of digital transformation, data monetization and advanced analytics.  Before Gartner, John was responsible for the advanced analytics business unit of the Dell Software Group.

John is the author of the bestselling book – Building Analytics Teams: Leveraging analytics and artificial intelligence for business improvement.  Published in June 2020, the book details how to hire and manage high performance advanced analytics teams.  The book remains a best seller for professionals seeking guidance and best practices as they are building and managing analytics teams.

John is co-author of the bestselling book – Analytics: How to win with Intelligence, which debuted on Amazon as the #1 new book in Analytics in 2017.  Analytics is a book that guides non-technical executives through the journey of creating an analytics function, funding initiatives, and driving change in business operations through data and applied analytical applications.

Mr. Thompson’s technology expertise includes all aspects of advanced analytics and information management including – descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics, artificial intelligence, analytical applications, deep learning, cognitive computing, simulation, optimization, big data, and high performance computing.

Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Ferris State University and a MBA in Marketing from DePaul University.

About Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Cole has always had a penchant for turning data into pictures and into stories. She is the author of the best-selling book, storytelling with data: a data visualization guide for business professionals and storytelling with data: let’s practice! For nearly a decade, Cole and her team have delivered interactive learning sessions highly sought after by data-minded individuals, companies, and philanthropic organizations all over the world. They also help people create graphs that make sense and weave them into a compelling story through the popular SWD blog, podcast, monthly #SWDchallenge, and live stream events and other resources.

About Doug Laney

Douglas Laney is the data & analytics strategy innovation fellow with the consultancy, West Monroe. Formerly he was a vice president and distinguished analyst with Gartner’s Chief Data Officer (CDO) research and advisory practice. He is an accomplished practitioner and recognized authority on data and analytics strategy, a three-time recipient of Gartner’s Thought Leadership Award, and is regularly considered one of the top global influencers on these topics. Mr. Laney specializes in assisting organizations with data monetization and valuation, open and syndicated data, data governance, and big-data based innovation. In 2001 he coined the “3Vs” of volume, velocity and variety, now commonly used in defining Big Data.

Today, Mr. Laney is also a visiting professor at the University of Illinois Gies School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon Heinz College of Business where he teaches graduate-level courses on analytics and infonomics, also available via Coursera.

Episode 39