Big Data

How To Achieve Digital Transformation (DX)

Bill Schmarzo By Bill Schmarzo CTO, Dell EMC Services (aka “Dean of Big Data”) May 11, 2017

Industry after industry is under siege as companies embrace digital transformation (DX) to disrupt existing business models and disintermediate their competitor’s customer relationships. But what do we mean by “Digital Transformation”?

Digital Transformation

The coupling of granular, real-time data (e.g., smartphones, connected devices, smart appliances, wearables, mobile commerce, video surveillance) with modern technologies (e.g., cloud native apps, big data architectures, hyper-converged technologies, artificial intelligence, blockchain) to enhance products, processes, and business-decision making with customer, product and operational insights.

In order to achieve digital transformation, organizations need to coordinate and align the following business and technology capabilities:

  • Build out the organization’s data and analytics capabilities and assets (e.g., data science, analytic profiles, data lake with data management services, analytic and data integration tools) that provide the foundation for uncovering the customer, product, and operational insights that enable the organization’s top priority business initiatives.
  • Embed analytic insights and evidence-based recommendations into cloud-native applications that enable customers, partners/channels, front-line employees and line-of-business managers to optimize processes and business decisions and learn from customer and market engagements.
  • Incorporate the breadth of the organization’s digital footprint with Internet of Things (e.g., sensors, beacons, mobile phones, wearables, connected devices) to enable real-time and near-real time operational and product performance optimization that further enhances business decision-making and extends more value to customers/consumers.
  • Enhance and protect the organization’s data, analytic and application development assets with data management, security and authentication services.

The digital transformation starts by understanding the organization’s business initiatives, and then prioritizing which initiatives are top candidates for enhancement through digital transformation. “Begin with an end in mind” to quote Stephen Covey.

Organizations can then create a digital transformation roadmap that dictates how the organization leverages data, analytics (data science) and application development capabilities to deliver cloud-native “intelligent” applications (applications embedded with machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimize key processes and business decisions) and “smart” entities (that leverage the edge, fog and core IOT analytics to support the creation of “learning” business entities such as cities, cars, airports, hospitals, utilities and schools (see Figure 1).

Digital Transformation DX

Figure 1: Digital Transformation Components

In the end, digital transformation helps organizations become more effective in leveraging data and analytics to power their business models by optimizing key business processes, reducing security risks, uncovering new revenue opportunities and create a more compelling customer engagement and creating a more compelling, more prescriptive customer engagement (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Big Data Business Model Maturity Index

Figure 2: Big Data Business Model Maturity Index

Bill Schmarzo

About Bill Schmarzo


CTO, Dell EMC Services (aka “Dean of Big Data”)

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. As a CTO within Dell EMC’s 2,000+ person consulting organization, he works with organizations to identify where and how to start their big data journeys. 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.

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2 thoughts on “How To Achieve Digital Transformation (DX)

  1. Hi Bill,

    You may know me as iJOT Productions on Twitter – @iJOTProductions.

    One of the significant challenges as a Transformation Consulting management consultant for over 25 years is that I have had to hand-hold CIO’s to take a business perspective with technology solutions. That challenge continues even today with context to digital transformations.

    Digital transformation is fundamentally a profound business transformation that enables digital engagement for the business. Digital engagement is achieved along 4 distinct fronts – 1. Customer Experience; 2. Products, services, processes, organization and business model innovation; 3. Data as advantage; 4. Technology advancements. To enable this, businesses are re-imagining their value propositions, rethinking their value chains and reinventing their business models. The scope and scale at which it is being done to achieve full potential is huge.

    Everything about industries and the businesses in them are changing and will continue to change. The biggest challenge is to bring strategy and execution together, iteratively, with speed and innovation. Customer-centricity and value focus is paramount through this journey. CIO’s need to know that they own digital engagement and should be able to craft the narrative for business value, to orchestrate the digital transformation. That is where they seem to fall short. They continue to look at technology solution with a push approach, rather than from a pull approach from the market. It is not about technology feasibility, or desirability alone, but also about viability of the solution for their business.

    This problem exists in most companies across many industries. That is my 2-cents worth!

    Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have further thoughts.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

    Sajeev

    • Thanks Sajeev for the details and thoughtful response! Great insights from your digital transformation experiences.