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Alan Jacobson, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Alteryx

Describe your career to date

I started my career as an IBM Fellowship recipient on staff at Virginia Tech. At that time, I was researching the optimization of aircraft design. I left academia for a 26-year career at Ford with roles that included designing vehicles to marketing and sales to building new companies leveraging data and analytics. My last role at Ford was helping every area of the company to better use data to drive better outcomes.  

I am now on the next leg of my career journey at Alteryx as the Chief Data and Analytics Officer, helping organizations to use data to deliver incredible results, both in financial terms, but even more importantly in human outcomes.  

Whether seeing an organization working to cure cancer leverage data or seeing a logistics analyst begin automating processes and using advanced modeling methods improve to change her career trajectory, the impact of analytics on people is what excites me still today. Throughout my career, in every role, what likely separated me from so many phenomenal professionals was an ability to make data dance. Having learned to code at a very young age, the ability to drive results with analytics has been a key aspect throughout my journey and is still something I get great joy out of doing. And the analytic space continues to innovate at an increasing velocity, keeping me on a never-ending quest to learn more. 

What challenges do you see for data in the year ahead that will have an impact on your clients and on the industry as a whole?  

There is incredible pressure within organizations to use the latest large language model and generative AI (genAI) technologies to gain competitive advantage, yet many do not fully understand where these technologies can help, where they may add significant risk, and where it will most certainly fail.  

Educating organizations on how they can deliver strong ROI quickly, and where to use these emerging technologies versus more traditional methods is a large part of everyday conversations. 

How are you developing the data literacy of a) your own organization and b) your clients? 

In my current role, I meet with up to 500 organizations a year to help them better understand data and analytics and how to drive analytic maturity within their organizations. Sessions range from reviewing the techniques leading organizations leverage to drive change to educational sessions on AI, machine learning, large language models, genAI, and a myriad of topics that organizations are struggling to fully harness. 

How are you preparing your organization and your clients for AI adoption and change management?  

Driving AI adoption requires two key pieces: first, I work with our product and engineering teams to ensure implementations are easy to use, easy to understand and allow transparency throughout the development process; and second, I work with customers to drive awareness, enablement, and sustainable processes for successful results. 

Alan Jacobson
has been included in:
  • 100 Enablers 2024 (USA)