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Blog 5 Must-Read Books for Analytics Leaders

The power of data and analytics is reshaping industry competition and how businesses operate every day. And more and more, we’re seeing analytics leaders creating competitive advantage through data storytelling, literacy & data-driven digital transformation. 

While this is no small feat, a great first step is learning & understanding the concepts, tactics, and skills necessary to drive this type of transformation.

So in honor of National Book Lover’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 must-read books for analytics leaders who are looking to gain a competitive edge and drive change with data at their organization. 

Effective Data Storytelling: How to Drive Change with Data, Narrative, and Visuals by Brent Dykes

Effectively communicating with data is a necessity in organizations of all types and sizes. It’s often the crucial last mile in the analysis process that determines whether an insight will inspire action. Transforming data into visual communication is only one part of the picture—it’s just as important to engage your audience with a memorable and persuasive story. Narratives are more powerful than raw statistics, more enduring than pretty charts.

Rather than focusing exclusively on how to visualize data, author Brent Dykes explores the psychological and emotional aspects of storytelling before he shows you how to combine the three central elements of data storytelling—data, narrative, and visuals—for maximum effectiveness. 

This book is for anyone looking to master the art of data storytelling and communicate insights that influence decisions, inspire action, and drive change.

About the Author: 

Brent Dykes has more than 15 years of enterprise analytics experience at Omniture, Adobe, and Domo. His passion for data strategy and data storytelling comes from consulting with many industry leaders including Nike, Microsoft, Sony, and Comcast. He is a regular Forbes contributor and has written more than 35 articles on different data-related topics. In 2016, Brent received the Most Influential Industry Contributor Award from the Digital Analytics Association (DAA). He is a popular speaker at conferences such as Strata, Web Summit,, Adtech, Pubcon, RISE, Crunch, and Adobe Summit. Brent holds an MBA from Brigham Young University and a BBA in marketing from Simon Fraser University.

Be Data Literate: The Data Literacy Skills Everyone Needs To Succeed by Jordan Morrow

It is not enough for a business to have the best data if those using it don’t understand the right questions to ask or how to use the information generated to make decisions. Be Data Literate is the essential guide to developing the curiosity, creativity and critical thinking necessary to make anyone data literate, without retraining as a data scientist or statistician. 

This book is for those who want to begin developing the curiosity, creativity and critical thinking needed to confidently interpret, analyze and communicate with data in the workplace.

About the Author:

As the Head of Data and Design/Management Skills, Jordan Morrow helps individuals and organizations realize their potential through the proper learning and strategy. He leads Pluralsight’s data and design/management across our various channels. Pluralsight is the premier technology skills learning platform. This program is designed to help people learn and improve their data capabilities and more, gain an understanding of how to effectively use these skills and help prepare them to work with the large amounts of data found in modern organizations.

Jordan is on a mission to close the data skills gap and establish a data-centric culture by bringing data literacy to the masses. He’s passionate about delivering a human touch to a world of numbers and gets the greatest satisfaction when he can help people see and understand the power that data analytics can bring to their careers, their businesses, and their personal lives. 

The Disruptors: Data Science Leaders: Collective Biographies of Influential Leaders by Kate Strachnyi

The buzz around data science is generating interest across industries and putting pressure on businesses to get up to speed and capitalize on this thing called data. Data scientists are the practitioners of this field and are the heroes of this book. Kate Strachnyi embarked on a journey to speak with some of the most influential leaders in this space (including DJ Patil, Former Chief Data Scientist of the White House, Monica Rogati, Senior Data Science and AI Advisor, Bernard Marr, the eminent business influencer, etc.) to hear their stories and to uncover the characteristics that make them The Disruptors.

This book is for anyone looking to take a journey through the world of data science, from the perspective of the people who are inventing the discipline.

About the Author:

Kate Strachnyi is the founder of Story by Data & the DATAcated Academy. Story by Data – LinkedIn content strategy for companies focused on innovation in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data science. DATAcated Academy – delivering training on data visualization best practices and tips for telling stories with data.. LinkedIn Top Voice in Data Science & Analytics (2018 & 2019). She also hosts the DATAcated Conference (virtual conference that brings together amazing speakers along with thousands of participants).

Data Literacy Fundamentals: Understanding the Power and Value of Data by Ben Jones

The vast majority of people in the world today do not receive a formal education that adequately prepares them for the level of data literacy required of them in their careers and by their communities. As a result, many are being left behind by the transition to data-driven dialogues and decisions all around them, and they’re seeking ways to break down the barriers that are preventing them from participating.

Data Literacy Fundamentals covers foundational topics such as the overall goal of data, various ways of measuring and categorizing the world, five different forms of data analysis and when they apply, pros and cons related to how we display data in tabular or graphic form, and the way teams work together to convert data into insight.

This book is for anyone who is just getting started with data and who wants to feel more confident in their understanding of what it is, what it isn’t, and what it’s used for. 

About the Author:

Ben Jones is an experienced and passionate data instructor. He has taught hundreds of thousands of students in both corporate and academic environments and currently teaches data visualization theory at the University of Washington. An accomplished author, Ben has written five books including Avoiding Data Pitfalls and Data Literacy Fundamentals.

In 2018, Ben became aware of a huge gap in data literacy, data education, and data assessments and decided to launch a company to address what he saw as a critical problem in our society. The company — Data Literacy — helps businesses, government agencies, and individuals break through the barriers holding them back from improving their data knowledge and skills.

Let Your People Be People by Anna Walsh and Nate Nichols, PhD

Yes, this is a book written by our very own Narrative Scientists but you should still give it a read (it’s free!)

In the past few decades, we have seen an explosion of tools and products designed to make understanding data easier, but it wasn’t through stories. Spreadsheets reigned supreme, and eventually dashboards started to replace spreadsheets as the best way to understand data. We’ve been trying to retrain our brains to think like computers— in numbers.

Modern businesses are starting to see the shortcomings of this practice. In businesses around the world, people are realizing that humans don’t learn from numbers. They don’t learn from spreadsheets or dashboards, either. They learn from stories. Whether it is stories about the business or stories from your people themselves, we believe stories are key to a successful company.

This book is for anyone who’s looking to learn how to tell better stories and bring storytelling back into their business.

About the Authors:

Anna Walsh is the Head of Marketing at Narrative Science, where she leads marketing initiatives including brand, content, digital, and demand generation. She has previously led product marketing for both of Narrative Science’s products. Prior to joining Narrative Science, she did product marketing for ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity software company based out of Arlington, VA. Anna hails from Detroit and graduated from Canisius College with a degree in Psychology, Business, and Studio Art. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband.

Nate Nichols is the Chief Scientist at Narrative Science. He is responsible for high-level product design and articulating Narrative Science’s vision for how AI can help people better understand the world. He oversees Narrative Science’s Incubator program, a cross-functional team dedicated to exploring innovative technology that will propel customers forward. Nate earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern University (“Machine-Generated Content”) in 2010 and his BA from DePauw University.

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