Southard Jones is the Vice President of Product Strategy at business intelligence company Birst, a global leader in cloud BI and analytics. He started his career as an Engineer before earning his MBA in Marketing and Strategy, and he's since been in the IT Products space with companies in energy, software and cloud technology.
icrunchdata speaks with business leaders about the progression of their careers in analytics, what they are focusing on in their current roles and what their interests are outside of data. We recently spoke to Southard about the last two years at Birst, what’s next for his team and what every company should look for when hiring a Chief Data Officer.
Southard, thanks for speaking to us today. Let’s go…
Since I started in 2013, Birst has seen exponential growth. Bringing on a new CEO has been paramount to our success, freeing up our Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Brad Peters to continue to be hands-on with the product and allowing our CEO Jay Larson to strategically grow the business. With this powerful duo, Birst has and will continue to scale successfully.
Certainly, we’ve made a lot of exciting announcements in the past two years, including landmark partnerships with companies like SAP, Tableau and NetSuite, raising a significant venture capital round of funding, as well as lots of groundbreaking product updates. But I’d say we are most proud of how well these announcements have been received and validated the seismic shifts that are taking place in the business intelligence industry. Legacy BI vendors are a dying breed whose software can’t keep up with the demands of today’s business environment and we are excited to be at the forefront of this industry as it is remade.
We will continue to emphasize the importance of BI balancing the needs of IT (governance) and business users (data discovery). Gartner has taken note of this shift occurring in the BI market and the need for "governed data discovery" which threatens the dominance of legacy BI solutions from HP, SAP, Oracle and others.
The role of the CDO is to create a new system under which data can be leveraged across an entire organization, from sales and marketing, to product development and finance and everywhere in between. Given that the role of the CDO is to utilize data to propel the organization to success, a CDO needs to empower all users, to get access to a trusted fabric of data across the enterprise. Gone are the days when data scientists and data analyst in ivory towers make data decisions; CDOs will excel by enabling every user with right data for their role. A mix of data skills and entrepreneurial or business acumen is essential.
My job is all about interpreting technical jargon and making it accessible to others. Writing is a great way to demystify the world of BI and the important developments we are working on at Birst. Writing itself happens at my desk at Birst HQ. My hope is that the writing helps inspire businesses to think differently about how BI and analytics fit in with their organization.
Social channels are a choice for every individual on a personal level, but as a representative of Birst, I see social as part of the company – not the individual. Birst delivers successful customers and market leading products because we have a great team of folks, not because of any one individual.
The diversity of the people leads to the openness for new ideas and desire to always find a faster, more efficient, more user friendly way to do anything makes it a great location for my career and companies like Birst. The other fact is that I can get in the car with my family and be in some of the most amazing natural places on earth (from the Sierras, to the central coast, to the Redwoods) in less than a few hours, making northern California an incredible place to raise a family. The real estate prices, on the other hand, are enough to make everyone scratch their heads!
The obvious and clear choice is to spend more time with my beautiful wife and two wonderful kids exploring northern California outdoors, skiing, hiking, camping and meeting new people in small towns.
I’ve been fortunate in my career and have worked with amazing people, like the people at Birst, and that has made all the difference, so I would likely stress that relationships are as important as any measure of success in career.
That's all for now. Thanks for the advice and your time today, Southard.