2023 has been a year of breakthrough innovation for many, and a deer-in-headlights moment for others. I keep flashing back to the 90s when the Internet created new businesses and destroyed others—LLMs are doing the same, only with more velocity. From CDAOs to VCs alike, the rate of creative destruction is faster, but there is also an intense focus on value.
As I reflect on the past year of The Data Chief, I continue to be filled with gratitude and inspiration. You tuned in from across 80 countries to hear our 23 incredible guests share ideas, stories, and best practices. Together, we’re transforming the way data leaders, our teams, and our businesses value data.
Taking a page from last year’s book, we decided to look back on the top episodes of the year. Below, we break down the six episodes with the most unique listeners, sharing highlights and listener favorites from season four.
Cutting the data multiple ways, from what ranked highest in the first 30 days to which episode had the most listeners overall (data minds will realize that older episodes rank higher here), we’ve listed the episodes chronologically based on the publish date. If you missed any of these shows, consider this your must-listen-to list.
Top 6 episodes of The Data Chief in 2023
Top Data & AI Industry Trends in 2023 with Tom Davenport, Tony Baer, and Sonny Rivera
We started the year with our predictions episode—an annual favorite that helps data and business leaders prioritize the year ahead. Podcast guest and distinguished professor at Babson College, Tom Davenport, provided timeless advice on how leaders need to make AI their ally:
"Increasing numbers of us will have coworkers who are AI-oriented. And I really think the only people who have anything to worry about from AI are the people who refuse to work with it…AI tools still require humans in the loop to create a great prompt and to edit this stuff when it comes out to make sure it's okay. But certainly a collaborative relationship with a machine in more and more cases."
To hear the latest trends and New Year resolutions, tune in on January 10th when we will release the first episode of Season 5, and join us on January 16 for our annual webinar.
How to Harness the Explosive Growth of ChatGPT for AI Innovation
Think back to February 2023, as the world was reckoning with the impact of ChatGPT. This is when ThoughtSpot’s Co-founder Amit Prakash, joined us on The Data Chief. In this episode, he draws on his extensive AI and machine background from both Google and Bing and shares his thoughts on the evolution of AI, how it can help the global workforce, and its scope in the data and analytics industry.
Here’s a snippet of our conversation where Amit talks about his theory on ChatGPT and other LLM technologies:
“The way I think of ChatGPT or that family of large language models is that it's kind of like we've got a new element on the periodic table. And yes, that could be a radioactive substance and it could explode in your hands if you don't handle it properly, but it absolutely opens up the opportunity to experiment and combine it with other elements and build products that were just not possible before.”
Loyal listener Jason Latta, Head of Insight Evolution at Bank of America, shared why this was one of his favorite episodes:
“[Amit] comes across as really humble for being as smart as he is and having accomplished what he has in his career… He provided the best explanation I have heard to date as to why ChatGPT has exploded the way it has. I ended up relistening to the episode a couple of times and forwarding it out to others as well”
How to Connect Data Strategy to Business Value
In this episode of The Data Chief, Dora Boussias, Senior Director of Data Strategy and Architecture at Stryker, shares lessons learned from her 28 years of experience building effective data strategies across a number of industries. You’ll hear more about the role of leaders in creating a data-informed culture, the state of female leadership in the analytics industry, and how data alone is not enough to bring change.
Here’s a quote from Dora Boussias, talking about the importance of breaking down silos:
“I don't just go and ask, ‘What is your data problem?’ I'm trying to understand the holistic challenge. And I typically ask about challenges, but I also ask about what's working well and reflect on that, connect the dots, try to put the map together across the organization.”
Packed with so many insights about the realities of the analytics industry, it’s no surprise that this was among the top 6 most listened-to episodes within the first 30 days. Here’s what, Susan Golightly, engaged listener and Fractional CMO of Strategy Consulting at Codei, had to say:
“If you are working on connecting data to value across the organization… this [podcast] with Dora Boussias of Stryker is especially wonderful—robust discussion on the importance of people, culture, process, and structure to an organization's ability to be data-driven.”
Bill Schmarzo on Why Companies Need to Pivot from Data-Driven to Value-Driven
Most companies have been collecting data for years, but the cost of data collection and storage often doesn’t add up to the value they extract from that data. Take it from industry veteran Bill Schmarzo, Customer AI and Data Innovation Strategist at Dell Technologies, who said, “Data by itself has zero value. In fact, it’s a cost.”
In this episode, Bill highlights how CDAOs need to shift their focus from being data-driven to being more value-driven. You achieve this by putting data into perspective.
“This challenge for a CDO is that when we come to the business and talk about data, the business falls over and falls asleep. They don't care about data. They don't care about the three V’s of big data. What they care about are the four M's of big data: Make. Me. More. Money.”
Bill, brilliant advice, as always! Listeners like Leon Barsoumian, Head of Data, Analytics and Insights at Equitable, agree:
“[I] couldn’t agree more. Many companies say they are data driven but what does that really mean? For any analytics head or Chief Data Officer, it’s really about the value that you are driving for the business, that’s the currency and fuel.”
Netflix on Balancing Data with Intuition for Better Insights
When one of the biggest names in streaming starts talking data, people listen. In this episode, Netflix’s CTO, Elizabeth Stone, delves into how her team infuses concrete data with creativity and experimentation—without compromising user experience. Elizabeth also emphasizes how ever-evolving entertainment companies leverage Machine Learning and analytics to create high-quality viewing experiences.
“We don't want to be fearful of placing big bets. We want to be constantly pushing ourselves to be more innovative and certainly more excellent over time. And we want to use data and analytical thinking to really try to make the best decisions we can.”
Dora Boussias, both a guest and listener, explained why Elizabeth’s episode was one of her favorites:
“We need more conversation around being data-informed not simply data-driven, and what this even means. Data alone is not always ‘enough’ to tell the whole story. We can’t depend on ‘gut feeling’ or experience alone either. In some cases, we are better off taking action based on data + intuition, using both as tools combined to provide a more holistic understanding that leads to better decisions.”
How to Organize Modern Data and Analytics Teams with Mode Analytics Co-Founder Benn Stancil
In our final episode of 2023, Benn Stancil, field CTO at ThoughtSpot and co-founder of Mode joined me as a guest and new colleague. Benn brings his unique perspective on how organizations can achieve data excellence by maintaining consistent data infrastructure.
We also discuss the role of natural language search, why data teams need visibility into the business context, and how AI is changing the way people interact with data. Breaking down the importance of insights and responsible decision-making, Benn states:
“Courage, ultimately, is needed in making a decision that you have to own. [Unfortunately], data can be a punt. If you make a data-driven decision, nobody made the decision. The data made the decision. There is like an abstraction there of who was actually responsible for it.“
Stay tuned for more episodes of The Data Chief in 2024
With more real-world examples, stories, and business advice from visionary leaders, we promise you that season five of The Data Chief is going to be even more exciting. Mark your calendars because our first episode about 2024 data analytics and AI trends will air on Jan 10th. To ensure you don’t miss out on any of the episodes, subscribe to The Data Chief on your preferred listening platform—Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.