In the times of hunters and gatherers, leading a successful hunt required a brief knowledge of reading the Earth – the trees, the wind, the land, the skies, and the stars – everything. The key to success there was whispering to an aware hunter in which direction food, water, and shelter will be found. Today we call the whisperings of the world as data and being successful requires the ability to understand this data.
Just having the basic skills of being able to read, work with, analyze, and communicate data helps today’s employees be more successful than their counterparts. That is why Jordan Morrow, Vice President and Head of Data and Analytics at BrainStorm Inc, advocates for everyone to be data literate.
Known as the ‘Godfather of the Data Literacy’, Jordan has received numerous awards, such as DataIQ 100 Award and Data Influencer Award, for his exceptional work. He has also been published in well-known publications such as CBR, Recruiters, and Talent Culture, spoken at global data conferences, and is in the process of writing the third book on data and analytics.
CIOLook reached out to Jordan to get his exceptional insights about the world running on data, his journey in the field of data literacy, and his advice for people looking to venture into the field.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at BrainStorm Inc. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey to my current position has been an amazing journey. I started my career in data and analytics at a financial services company. While there, my first thoughts for what eventually became data literacy started to blossom. The only problem was that the program I built, which was different and in addition to what was being done, was declined. Eventually, I moved to a data and analytics vendor, where I was hired not to work with the product or sell things but to build what would become a data literacy program.
I helped to pioneer and build the entire world of data literacy. I have traveled and worked with companies from around the world. I have even helped the United Nations. I have since transitioned away from pure data literacy work to doing both data literacy work, still speaking frequently on the topic, to now leading a data and analytics program for my current company, BrainStorm, Inc.
I love the world of data and analytics. There is power there. I have been able to author two books and am writing a third. I love the power data, and analytics brings to the world and love this work.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
My current company, BrainStorm Inc., is built to help drive change and adoption of software. From the company website, it says: “Simplifying software adoption for everyone.”
We know the world needs to digitally transform, and BrainStorm helps organizations do this.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted data analytics through your expertise in the market.
I have been a pioneer in the field of data literacy, which is the ability to read, work with, analyze, and communicate with data (Qlik’s definition).
I have helped to pioneer and in vent this entire field. I was one of the first in the world to start working in this space, helping to build what was the first (or one of the) full-scale data literacy programs.
I travelled the world, speaking to companies either virtually or in person, talking about data literacy, and I still continue to do this to this day. I love this world, I find data literacy amazing, and I think it is empowering for companies and individuals.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
My organization’s culture is amazing. Overall, the value is the people and how we treat each other. My organization is unique, to me at least, in how it works to foster an environment where you get to be you. I don’t have to be a different person at work, where I feel some organizations foster cultures where you are not yourself. You come into work, and you are a different persona. BrainStorm enables its employees to be themselves!
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
I am the data literacy guy, which is not about the technology, but the person but the reality is that technology is a tool that can enhance our work. I believe in working with technology and finding the right ones for your data strategy. The tool should not dictate the strategy, the strategy should dictate the tool. Data and analytics tools are powerful and can empower us, but we have to use them intelligently. I am all about trying and testing new tools, but don’t just buy or be enamored with the shiny tool; find the ones that will actually empower your data strategy and employees to success.
What change would you like to bring to data analytics if given a chance?
It would be the proper work and empowerment with data literacy. If one thinks about it, data literacy can be such an empowering thing and enable data and analytics success. Yes, tools are powerful, and data is vast and immense, but without the right skills to take it on and succeed, can organizations obtain the true ROI from the data they desire? Truthfully, the answer is probably no, and we need organizations to truly embrace and adopt data literacy; it needs to be a part of an organization’s data strategy.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the data analytics sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
We keep hearing about augmented data and analytics and the advances of AI in this space. Well, let’s truly get this implemented. I think that tools and technology may truly do a lot of the work for all of us…now; this does not mean the tools and technology are replacing us, but let’s embrace the technology and allow it to do work for us. We need data literacy skills to work with the results and the data and technology. As these new tools are advanced and deployed, let’s have a workforce that can truly utilize them and embrace them. I am excited for the future of data and analytics!
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for BrainStorm Inc?
I see myself continuing in my journey of being a leader in the world of data literacy. I see myself continuing to be a leader in data and analytics. I hope to build and execute a sound and effective data strategy for BrainStorm. I want to help BrainStorm be a truly data-driven organization.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the data analytics sector?
One of the biggest pieces of advice or something I am fond of saying goes something like not everyone needs to be a data scientist, but everyone does need to be data literate, and you already are in some ways. You don’t have to be the most technical, the most advanced. Develop your data literacy skills, develop your ability to find insight in data, and learn how to make a decision with the data. Finally, do not neglect the soft skills. Get good at communication, leadership, project management, and other areas that are complementary to being a strong data and analytics employee.