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People to Watch 2018

Bill Schmarzo
CTO of Big Data Practice at EMC Global Services
Dean of Big Data Dell EMC

Bill Schmarzo, author of “Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business” and “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science”, is responsible for setting strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings for Dell EMC’s Big Data Practice. He’s written white papers, is an avid blogger and is a frequent speaker on the use of Big Data and data science to power an organization’s key business initiatives. He is a University of San Francisco School of Management (SOM) Executive Fellow where he teaches the “Big Data MBA” course. Bill also just completed a research paper on “Determining The Economic Value of Data.” Onalytica recently ranked Bill as #4 Big Data Influencer worldwide. Bill has over three decades of experience in data warehousing, BI and analytics. Bill authored the Vision Workshop methodology that links an organization’s strategic business initiatives with their supporting data and analytic requirements. Bill serves on the City of San Jose’s Technology Innovation Board, and on the faculties of The Data Warehouse Institute and Strata. Previously, Bill was vice president of Analytics at Yahoo where he was responsible for the development of Yahoo’s Advertiser and Website analytics products, including the delivery of “actionable insights” through a holistic user experience. Before that, Bill oversaw the Analytic Applications business unit at Business Objects, including the development, marketing and sales of their industry-defining analytic applications. Bill holds a Masters Business Administration from University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, Computer Science and Business Administration from Coe College.

Datanami: Congratulations on being named a Datanami Person to Watch in 2018! You stated on Twitter that the movie “Moneyball” made big data real for the general public. Have we reached that “Moneyball” moment yet for IoT, and if not, when do you think that will happen?

Bill Schmarzo: Man, great question, though I have to clarify that I recommend the book “Moneyball” versus the movie “Moneyball” because the book gets into the nitty details of applied analytics. My wife’s take-away from the movie was Brad Pitt is so cute. Hey, what about On-base Percentage!?
From an IOT perspective, I don’t think we’ve had that cultural IOT moment, though we can certainly see some hints and awareness from movies like “Eagle Eye” (and the ability to build detailed behavioral profiles that are used to influence consumer actions and decisions) and “I, Robot” (where autonomous vehicles and robots create Isaac Asimov’s 4th Rule of Robots which is to “protect humankind from itself”).

Datanami: You’ve been vocal about the need for business leaders to think like data scientists. What’s the single most important piece of advice you can give in this regard?

If you can’t get business leaders to “Think Like a Data Scientist,” then get them to “Think Data Monetization.” The wealth of data available due to Big Data and IOT, and the growing deep data science capabilities like machine learning, deep learning and reinforcement learning are providing a countless number of opportunities for organizations to become more effective at leveraging data and analytics to power their business – to optimize key business and operational processes, mitigate security and compliance risks, uncover new revenue streams and create a more compelling, differentiated customer experience.

Datanami: “In 2018, a majority of enterprises will find a way to successfully monetize their data.” True statement or wishful thinking?

True statement, because if organizations don’t embrace data monetization, they simply won’t continue to exist. Data monetization is no longer a “nice to have.” It may have been a “nice to have” in the era of data warehousing and business intelligence where organizations were content to use data and analytics to monitor on the state of the business. However, today Data Monetization is becoming an organizational mandate; it’s becoming essential to an organizational survival to leverage data and analytics to predict what’s likely to happen, prescribe actions to exploit or monetize those predictions and prevent potentially costly situations like customer or employee attrition, unplanned maintenance and downtime, or fraud, abuse and waste.

Datanami: What do you hope to see from the big data community in the coming year?

I’d hope to see business leaders adopting analytics as business discipline, in the same manner that they’ve adopted finance, operations research, sales and marketing as business disciplines; business disciplines that leading organizations realize they must master in order to survive in this age of digital transformation.

Datanami: Outside of the professional sphere, what can you share about yourself that your colleagues might be surprised to learn – any unique hobbies or stories?

I love teaching at the University of San Francisco. Working with students brings a level of energy that is hard to find anywhere else. This next generation of leaders is full of hope and dreams, and is more focused on what’s possible versus worrying about what can’t be done. The students truly do make me feel young again.

I also really dig 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles, which my wife isn’t so crazy about because I spread them out in the dining room. Hey, we don’t need to entertain friends anyway!



AB Periasamy
Bill Schmarzo
Dell EMC
Cathy O’Neil
Crystal Valentine
Emil Eifrem
Lloyd Tabb
Michael Jordan
Nima Negahban
Tom Siebel
C3 IoT
Tyler Akidau
Wes McKinney
Two Sigma
Yann LeCun

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