How We Teach Customers to Use Big Data

At Oracle OpenWorld last week, Joe Tucci and Jeremy Burton shared insights on how customers are using big data. I was also at the show, meeting with customers about where and how they can employ big data to make smarter business decisions. One of the ways we help customers do that is through a Vision Workshop, which helps clients identify use cases for where and how big data can deliver business value and competitive differentiation.

Vision Workshop Process
Figure 1: Vision Workshop Process

Prior to a workshop, we conduct interviews to capture details on the client’s key business initiatives. Instead of starting with possibilities around data, we start by identifying the levers that drive the business. Next, during the workshop, we facilitate client-specific exercises to help “envision” the realm of what’s possible with big data, and to identify and prioritize big data business use cases specific to the client’s key business initiatives. After the workshop, we recommend next steps that can include an analytics lab, big data advisory services, or big data strategy.

Case Study

We were recently asked by a large US grocer to help their IT Management team to contemplate where and how big data could impact their business. Our goal for this workshop was to create a relevant and provocative big data analytics story specific for them.

Our research identified the following business initiatives:

  • Build customer loyalty
  • Provide exceptional shopping experience
  • Deliver personalized offers via new mobile app

We created mockups of how their internal data sources (sales, customer loyalty) and external data sources (social, mobile) could be coupled with advanced analytics to deliver customer-specific “next best offers” based upon the customer’s shopping history and behaviors.

Customer Loyalty Mockup
Figure 2: Customer Loyalty Mockup

The mockups and the associated envisioning exercises uncovered several use cases where big data could be deployed for immediate business value.


The Vision Workshop leverages envisioning and facilitation techniques to help organizations identify the business use cases for where and how to start their big data journey.  The Vision Workshop also drives close collaboration between the business and IT stakeholders to identify the key business value drivers and to understand the specific data and technology requirements.

Bill Schmarzo

About the Author: Bill Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo is the Customer Advocate for Data Management Innovation at Dell Technologies. He is currently part of Dell Technology’s core data management leadership team, where he is responsible for spearheading customer co-creation engagement to identify and prioritize the customers' key data management, data science, and data monetization requirements. Bill is the former Chief Innovation Officer at Hitachi Vantara where he was responsible for driving Hitachi Vantara’s Data Science and “co-creation” efforts. Bill also has served as CTO at Dell EMC where he formulated the company’s Big Data Practice strategy, identified target markets, developed solution frameworks, and led Analytics client engagements. As the VP of Analytics at Yahoo, Bill delivered the analytics tools and applications that optimized customers’ online marketing spend. Bill is the author of four books and is currently an Adjunct Professor at Menlo College, an Honorary Professor at the University of Ireland – Galway, and an Executive Fellow at the University of San Francisco, School of Management. Bill holds a Master of Business Administration from University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, Computer Science and Business Administration from Coe College.