[Data Geeks Podcast]: Turning Big Data into Actionable Insights – Our Challenges and Successes

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Last week I introduced a new podcast series, A Conversation with Two Data Geeks, to tell the story of how we are digitally transforming Dell EMC customer support. Today I want to share the second installment in this three-part series. As with any endeavor where you’re breaking new ground, there are bound to be challenges and successes along the way. We’ve had our share of both!


As we worked across teams in our company to break down data walls in order to gain access to all the data sources needed to build a comprehensive data lake, we faced our first challenges. Initially there was some resistance to sharing and moving data. It was also critical that we find a platform on which to centralize this data and enable “analytics at the speed of thought,” as Michael Shepherd likes to say.

Next was a shift in mindset across the organization from thinking of big data as strictly IT-enabled to thinking of big data as IT and business-enabled. Giving all members of an organization, not just IT, access to discover and share data-driven insights allows a company to start to transform and make smarter decisions across its operations, driving transformation. This co-creation model is a newer way of thinking that brings greater value to an organization.


At the core of all our efforts is the goal to improve the customer support experience. This is why Dr. Rex Martin shared his team’s vision for the data visualization-based technology — MyService360 — with some of our customers at the outset to get their feedback. Many were enthusiastic about the idea. These conversations helped his team prioritize the feature sets they would deliver in the initial release, focusing on the features customers wanted most and found most impactful. When MyService360 was released, those customers were thrilled to see the speed at which this technology had been created and were interested to learn how they could utilize it to manage their data centers.

Another milestone came when Michael Shepherd and his colleagues were able to leverage part supplier data such as motherboard testing results, dispatch data, call logs and repair data. Being able to combine pre-purchase data with post-purchase data provides even more value to customers and speaks to how the technology culminates into a full 360-view of the product lifecycle.

Data-driven Insights

So, how do we know when we’ve been successful? There’s no better proof than hearing directly from customers that our intelligent technologies help them run their businesses better. Here’s a quote from a MyService360 user about how its big data insights impact their business:

MyService360 has definitely helped us to be more proactive because we can see everything that’s going on in our environment. It is really easy to use, very intuitive.

– Roberto Hurtado, Enterprise Storage Engineer, CHRISTUS Health

The “everything” Roberto is referencing includes insights such as:

  • Health and Risk Scoring– displays proactive and predictive system health indicators to identify areas that may be at risk, giving customers time to prioritize actions and react accordingly.
  • Code Levels– analyzes the percentage of the global install base that is up to code, with ability to drill down to determine what specific systems are due for code upgrades.
  • Actionable Service Insights– allows customers to review IT service activities across their enterprise and dive into specific sites to understand what needs attention and the action required.
  • Connectivity Status– displays the percentage of the install base that’s remotely connected to Dell EMC so customers can take action to get remaining systems connected.
  • Incident Management– taps into proactive data to identify analytical trends on service incidents.

In addition to positive customer feedback, MyService360 and SupportAssist, the technologies that provide insights and improve the experience for our customers, have collectively won two TSIA (Technology Services Industry Association) STAR awards, including Innovation in the Transformation of Support Services and Innovation in Leveraging Technology for Service Excellence.

These insights are also helping our own Dell EMC IT team deliver exceptional service to internal customers. The team currently uses SupportAssist to monitor over 90,000 Dell EMC employee PCs. Proactive and predictive alerts are generated by SupportAssist and automatically entered in the team’s help desk application for easy incident tracking, global visibility and fast resolution.

Making It Real

Big data intelligence can feel complex and intangible. It’s hard to truly appreciate its impact until you hear stories of how it solved real problems. On this week’s podcast, Michael Shepherd discusses how our big data intelligence solved customer issues. A geo services company with over 550 Dell EMC PowerEdge servers with locations in England and Texas noticed their systems were running slowly. They thought this was due to a memory issue in a single location. By leveraging the power of big data, the Dell EMC Services team was able to find the root cause of the issue. They discovered it was much larger than the customer initially perceived and was impacting multiple locations. Within three days the issue was not just accurately identified, but fully resolved.

A second customer, based in India, was preparing for deployment of over 12,000 PowerEdge servers. The servers were built in groups over time, resulting in different BIOS versions. The customer needed visibility into each server’s BIOS so they could put the same information on all the servers. Using our big data intelligence, we were able to get this information in an hour. If done manually, the customer estimated it could’ve taken a full-time resource up to four months as he or she would have had to turn on each system one-by-one. This is why connectivity and the ability for our data lake to pull data from sources throughout the product lifecycle are so important.

These are just a few examples that illustrate the type of clarity big data technologies provide when approaching problems that could have significant impact on a customer’s environment and business. Now, I invite you to join us for our next podcast installment.

A Conversation with Two Data Geeks | Part 2 of 3: Turning Big Data into Actionable Insights – Our Challenges and Successes

Like many companies, tearing down data walls and ensuring data quality have been part of our digital transformation. Hear how we overcame those in order to build award-winning, intelligent technologies – SupportAssist and MyService360 – for our customers.

What challenges and successes has your team faced when using big data intelligence in your digital transformation journey? Please share your experiences below. I look forward to posting the final installment in our series next week.

Meet our data geeks in Vegas, April 30 – May 3!

Want to learn more about predictive customer intelligence? Come meet our data geeks in person at Dell Technologies World, and hear how they use data science and Dell EMC technologies to predict personalized outcomes and recommend preventative actions for our customers. Join their “Predictive customer intelligence: Using data science to transform the customer service experience” presentation.

In case you missed it:

Did you miss part 1 of this podcast series? Listen now [Data Geeks Podcast]: How Big Data Intelligence and Connectivity Enhance Your Support Experiences



Rex Martin, Ph.D. | Director, Advanced Proactive Services

Dr. Martin holds 8 U.S. patents in cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (AI). His current focus is leveraging Deep Learning methods to enable a competitively differentiated customer service experience. In 2016, his team won the Technology Services Industry Association award for Innovation in the Transformation of Support Services for MyService360. He has also received Presidential awards for innovation from EMC, Oracle and Sun Microsystems.

Michael Shepherd | AI Research Technologist

Michael holds U.S. patents in both hardware and software and is a Technical Evangelist who provides vision through transformational AI data science. With experience in supply chain, manufacturing and services, he enjoys demonstrating real scenarios with the SupportAssist Intelligence Engine showing how predictive and proactive AI platforms running at the “speed of thought” are feasible in every industry.

About the Author: Kevin Whitlow

With more than 20-years of operations and technology services delivery experience, Kevin Whitlow serves as Senior Vice President of Dell EMC Support and Deployment Services Product & Engineering Group. Kevin’s organization is responsible for the design, development and marketing of Dell EMC services programs and related customer tools. He also directs the group’s channel partner strategy and manages the Services Engineering Group which is responsible for product and services readiness, serviceability engineering, and operational governance and efficiency. Kevin previously led Dell’s Americas Commercial Support Services and Global Technical Account Management team which provides support and account management services to business customers in Canada, the United States, and Latin America. He also had global responsibility for operationalizing acquisitions. Prior to this, Kevin held senior management positions in Dell’s Field Services and Logistics organizations. Kevin joined Dell in 1999 from PepsiCo Food Service where he served in a number of leadership positions including Vice President of Operations. Kevin earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Louisville.
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