Customer Value Spring-boarding from the Data Lake

The data lake has not only allowed IT to open up Big Data to a broader community of internal business users, it is now helping us channel unprecedented amounts of information to DELL EMC customers as well.

Using data lake technology, for example, IT and our DELL EMC business groups forged a groundbreaking partnership to allow customers to leverage Big Data to monitor and proactively manage their IT environments. We created a tool called MyService360, an on-line solution that gives DELL EMC Support customers and partners easier and faster access to near real-time service information. It features a personalized dashboard that provides customers with a 360-degree view of their environment and customer service experience.

Launched last May, MyService360 only scratches the service of the potential value that is expected to spring-board from leveraging Big Data in the data lake.  Having all the data in a centralized location provides easy access and gives developers and data scientists the opportunity to gain data insights that would be extremely difficult to achieve without the data lake. Those insights can then be used to create metrics that we can share to empower our customers.


A closer look at the evolution of MyService360

Support Services has been providing customers and partners with information about their environments and services for years, primarily through an online service system portal that offered standard metrics and updates on their service requests and install base information.

Meanwhile, organization throughout the company, including Sales, Marketing and Finance had been striving to get a standardized 360-degree view of the customer that would get everyone on the same page in efficiently providing the best customer experience possible.

When IT implemented the data lake two years ago that 360-degree customer view started to emerge. This opened the door to the idea that we should start sharing that information with customers directly. As an interim step last year, Advanced Proactive Services—a team created by IT Global Services to work with IT to drive innovation in delivering proactive services to our customers, including data visualization and data science capabilities—created a new dashboard using Tableau software. The dashboard allowed our strategic account managers (SAMs) to bring some of that comprehensive information to our large strategic customer sites in the form of weekly, monthly or quarterly reports about their install base and support services.  The SAMS dashboards saved account managers hours of work formulating reports for strategic customers and gave these customers increased insight into their environments.

Our Services team then wanted to expand and offer a 360-degree view of installed environments and services directly to all customers. However, we found that Tableau wouldn’t scale to handle the high volume this would demand.  And that’s when the Advanced Proactive Services team began working with IT to create a new front-end tool called MyService360 to provide customers with a web application they could use to access unprecedented near real-time information about their service environments.

You could say our Data Management team provided the plumbing and platform that allowed the Advanced Proactive Services team to extract and analyze the customer information in the data lake for the MyService360 application. We used Big Data technologies, including Hadoop, Greenplum, PostgreSQL and other data lake architecture, to create the back end of MyService360.  And the IT Data Visualization team created the front-end piece on top of that to provide our support customers with a 360-degree view of their installed products, service activity, incident management, overall health and risk scoring of their environment and more.

The result is that MyService360 gives customers extensive information in the palm of their hand and brings us into the new digital era in terms of customer service. This new tool has delighted our customers and drew extensive interest from the industry.  We expect to substantially expand its capabilities going forward.

Building on the data lake foundation

Several other projects to improve how we serve customers are now in the works leveraging the data lake as a foundation. One is a broader Service360 tool that will use intelligent matching to assign the correct technology person to respond to a customer’s service request based on what skillsets they have and what shift they are working on.

We also expect to provide MyService360 users with self-servicing support scheduling—a feature I like to compare to tracking a pizza delivery. They will be able to specify when they want a tech to come to their site (scheduling) and then see when the tech is on the way, is onsite and has completed the service call and left the site (onsite servicing). In order to do that, we will have to interface MyService360 with our scheduling tool that we use to direct our customer service engineers in the field.

Also in the service space, analytics is helping us to alert customers when they are vulnerable to certain risks. For example, we can analyze customers’ micro-code levels to let them know they are more likely to experience certain failures because they haven’t moved to the latest version of the micro-code.

And, our Sales team is using Big Data to better target the customer’s solutions and maintenance contract renewal needs based on what similar customers are consuming.

Customers, too, can use MyService360 to stay ahead of service contract renewals so they won’t have any service disruptions when they call the company with an issue.

Passing on these capabilities to our customers is the newest leg of a long journey IT has been on to create business value from our growing universe of Big Data. The data lake provides the central hub and the analytic capabilities to finally leverage data we have long been striving to unlock. For example, the extensive amount of data we have collected for years through a dial-home process where product arrays send performance information back to us on a regular basis. Up until recently, IT and our users have been unable to use this unstructured data beyond a few isolated engineering instances.

Data Lake

Thanks to the data lake and new analytical capabilities, we can now access this raw data, aggregate it into metrics and analyze it for a variety of business insights. We can, for instance, calculate the overall capacity and storage used on one of our storage boxes by tracking how much storage a customer is using each day on various product platforms that are dialing home. We can then alert customers when they are running out of storage capacity on a certain array.

As I said, we have only started to gather the predictive insights of the data lake and Big Data capabilities. IT has probably reached about 25 to 30 percent of those capabilities and we have the potential to deliver a lot more for us and our customers. As with MyService360, our progress will be spurred by ongoing partnership between the business and IT and meeting the changing needs of our customers—in the digital age.

About the Author: Chuck Koch