Episode 5: Smart IT Connects & Protects…Your Data

Rooted in the mindset of an engineer, a scientist, a business development expert and an entrepreneur, Dr. Orna Berry analyzes business challenges from multiple angles to ensure that any IT and services solution achieves all objectives. Due north for all activities is a five star customer experience.
Listen More
All Luminaries Podcasts

Co-developing Your IT with a Trusted Vendor Paves the Road to Success

Rooted in the mindset of an engineer, a scientist, a business development expert and an entrepreneur, Dr. Orna Berry analyzes business challenges from multiple angles to ensure that the IT and services solution achieves all objectives. Due north for all activities is customer experience. At the highest level, IT must connect data for analysis while ensuring its protection from loss and compromise, in any way, when it is stationary and when it is in motion.

This deceivingly simple premise requires extensive planning around what services need to be provided or automated, the right data to be collected, the right technologies, such as hybrid enterprise cloud and converged infrastructure to achieve scale and speed to market, and procurement within the confinements of the customer’s budget and, of course, industry and government regulations. The latter is of particular relevance in the fintech vertical, as Dr. Berry points out. Add the advent of the Internet of Things and with it the distribution of wisdom to even more devices, the challenges to be solved multiply. The collaboration and trust between a customer and a vendor in co-developing their IT environment infrastructure is indispensable.

This episode also examines Dr. Berry’s perspective on the impact of technology on future generations and, as Israel’s first woman director of industrial research, the role of women in technology.

Featured Luminary: Dr. Orna Berry

Dr. Orna Berry is a recognized entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in Israel’s science, technology and venture capital industries.

Dr. Berry has held a wide range of key positions with significant public impact. In late 1996, Berry was nominated as the Chief Scientist and as Director of the Industrial Research and Development Administration in 1997, the only woman to hold this post. In 2014, she received the “WITI Hall of fame” award from Women in Technology International. Currently, Dr. Berry holds the title of Vice President Dell EMC, General Manager, Israel Center of Excellence.

“When customers are willing to be leaders in a global industry, for us as engineers, this is spectacular, because we can go with them, try with them, examine with them, hear their feedback.”

— Dr. Orna Berry, Dell EMC, Israel Center of Excellence

Luminaries Hosts

  • Mark Schaefer Author, Consultant, College Educator. Mark is a leading authority on marketing strategy, consultant, blogger, podcaster, and the author of six best-selling books, including "KNOWN." He has two advanced degrees and studied under Peter Drucker in graduate school. Some of his clients include Microsoft, GE, Johnson & Johnson and the US Air Force
  • Douglas Karr Technologist, Author, Speaker. Pre-Internet, Douglas started his career as a Naval electrician before going to work for the newspaper industry. His ability to translate business needs into technology during the advent of the Internet paved the way for his digital career. Douglas owns an Indianapolis agency, runs a MarTech publication, is a book author, and speaks internationally on digital marketing, technology, and media.


0:01 NARRATOR: Luminaries– talking to the brightest minds in tech.

0:05 SPEAKER 1: We have always believed that if we built the right technology, we could amplify and enhance and enable human progress. And when I look at what lies ahead, I realize that we’ve really just barely begun.

0:22 NARRATOR: Your hosts are Mark Schaefer and Douglas Karr.

0:28 MARK SCHAEFER: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of Luminaries, where we talk to the brightest minds in tech. This is Mark Schaefer. And today, we’re going to be expanding our journey on transformation, digital transformation, transforming our companies, even our lives. And I’m here today with my co-host Doug KARR. And I learned just moments ago that Doug Facetimes with his dog.


0:53 DOUG KARR: Yes I do.

0:54 MARK SCHAEFER: Sorry to embarrass you, but I just can’t get that image out of my mind. So we have an amazing, amazing show today. And we’re sitting right here with Dr. Orna Berry. Dr. Berry has more than 30 years of experience in science, technology, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. One of her own startups, Ornet Data Communications, was acquired by Siemens. She’s had a variety of prestigious positions in her career, including research fellow at Unisys and IBM, chief scientist at Fibronics, and she was Israel’s first woman director of industrial research and business development. She has won so many awards. And I just think go to her Wikipedia page. You just need– trust me. You need to go to her Wikipedia page to really appreciate the accomplishments of this amazing woman.

1:49 She’s in the women and technology hall of fame. And now, she’s vice president of Dell EMC and general manager for the company’s Israel Center of Excellence. Dr. Berry, I am so pleased and honored to have you with us today.

2:05 DR. ORNA BERRY: It’s a lot of fun to be with you.

2:08 MARK SCHAEFER: So tell us a little bit about this Center of Excellence. I know with all your great accomplishments in your life, this is something special to you. So tell us a little bit about how this began, and what you do there.

2:23 DR. ORNA BERRY: So Israel is well known as a startup nation. And EMC, now Dell EMC, has performed a significant number of acquisitions in Israel. And so we have sites that are in the north of the country as well as [INAUDIBLE] acquisition of ScaleIO in Haifa. We have site of multiple acquisitions in Herzliya. And we have site, which is an Organic Center of Innovation that was established between the government of Israel and at that time, EMC, because the government wanted to have the shift– that is very interesting for us from a IT transformation perspective. They wanted to bring together tens of data centers into three and to base them in Beersheba and in the vicinity of Beersheba. And they wanted to empower the excellent university that is there in collaboration with industry and with the government. And we were very fortunate to take part in this establishment.

3:46 So we have truly exceptional activities like in data science, cybersecurity solutions, as well as data protection and other divisions that evolved from acquisitions in Israel in Beersheba. Now, there is spirit. People invent. And when you have such an innovation environment, the personnel contribution together with the brain capabilities are yielding phenomenal results, and it’s a big pride to all of us.

4:30 MARK SCHAEFER: That’s wonderful. One of the goals of the Center of Excellence that I was reading from the website is to enable businesses and service providers to deliver information technology as a service. And I was surprised to see that that just stood out as a goal itself. Could you talk about what the role of information technology is, the services to IT transformation?

4:51 DR. ORNA BERRY: So when we go to customers, and we offer them products, potentially they know what they want, and they will buy the products, and will place them as they planned in their IT facility, IT infrastructure. When customers want to be very competitive– like one customer who wanted to be the first digital bank in the country. So they knew what they wanted to achieve. They know abstractly what they wanted to achieve. They didn’t know exactly what will be the services that they will introduce first, how they will change the business model completely– because the regulatory environment, not that they didn’t know how to digitize. And they needed somebody to come with them along the course of action and to actually build the plan, both in the time constraints and also in the content.

6:02 For example, they use the data that they have about the customer. Customers can be private banking or can be enterprises who have their accounts with the bank in variety of transactions, of multiple kinds from loans to just maintaining investments and such. So they needed a partner to think about– first of all, they wanted to be first. Secondly, they wanted to be very usable and user-friendly. Thirdly, they needed to meet regulation. Fourth, they needed to have marketing information combined with confidential information, which brings us to think about the cloud.

6:55 So the end result was that we started with a very simple video icon activity to the branches. We continued with many discussions about data, because you can have data, but if you don’t connect the data when a customer is asking for a loan, and they have a major investment in the bank, you don’t see the connection. But you want to be automated and friendly to the customer.

7:28 So it’s the data and applications, because just data, a repository, is not giving you the kind of friendliness and personalization that you want to have. So at the end of the day, Israel is an unsegmented market. It produces a lot of technology for the global markets, but from a consumer perspective, as a country, it is reasonably small but very aggressive. So some of the customers that you have are willing to be leaders in the global industry. And for us as engineers, this is spectacular, because we can go with them, try with them, examine with them, hear their feedback. And here, we have multiple services.

8:24 So one service is listening to the customer about what are their priorities, and what they would like to achieve. And then, connect the data that they have with the services that they want to provide with the infrastructure that is required and with the banks– for example, enterprise hybrid cloud, one of the first installations or a converged infrastructure, because it turns out that when you build a big infrastructure with converged infrastructure, you can achieve time-to-market that you wouldn’t achieve otherwise. So you would run, for example, a year ahead of people who are not using converged infrastructure and need to configure each one of the pieces in order to make them work together. And of course, the quality is much higher when you have bigger pieces, because if they are preconfigured, you have less elves. So this is one example.

9:29 Other examples– when people started talking about the cloud beyond what Amazon is offering, they wanted to have the cloud for a critical mission. They wanted to have the cloud for– we are talking about our cloud, our requirements– for administrative purposes, for massive data gathering. So each one of those, the different technologies that offer optimal operation and minimal cost. So this dialogue, when it takes place, is quite impressive. And as I mentioned at the beginning, one of the key initiatives of the Israeli government is the consolidation of data centers for the Ministry of Defense and placing them in the south. This is modernization. This is migration. Those are capabilities that– God forsake, you’re really concerned when you need to manage it.

10:43 And it’s a major procurement, you need to manage two things. You need to manage the procurement in order to make the budget, and you need to define the components in order to have a sequence that is actually leading you to an operational facility in time. And as I mentioned earlier, in budget, so the correctness or the validation is a technological exercise. The pricing is, of course, budget. So when you meet the teams of the technology, and you meet people with experience about services and systems together with the budgetary elements, then you can offer something that is very modern.

11:35 Now I mentioned that Israel is unsegmented. For that, we had to team up between the sales, the technologies, the services, so we can go through the motion of addressing all the aspects of the customer. And at the end of the day, for the customer to decide what they want to do themselves, and what they want to delegate to us. And very importantly, we have the national cert in Beersheba. And the government has increased the demand for our service people, because they saw that a form proficiency of how they are trained by our technologists. And from cost effectiveness, it pays. So initially, they defined less than 10. Today, though, way more in the population that is working and giving services and is actually employed by us.

12:40 MARK SCHAEFER: I have a question that this has been burning on my mind, and I think you’re the first person I’ve met that can really answer this, because your heart has been in, not just technology, but also, really, aspects of humanity and public policy. And I heard an interview you gave one time, where you talked about the issues of data exposure, the availability of data, and, maybe, even the potential for harm with the exposure of data. Are governments keeping up with the issues of data from a policy point of view? Where do you see this in the world from your perspective, both as an opportunity and, maybe, as a hazard in the future?

13:30 DR. ORNA BERRY: So when the internet or the internet protocol was originally presented, they did not include any capabilities for security. And later on, they looked at security from two perspectives. One is the protection of the data in a particular location. And the other is the protection of the data in motion. And in order to do that, they looked at the protection at multi-levels where the semantics of the data can be extracted. So the whole issue of protection of data in sizable lakes as we have today became quite complex. And there are regulatory issues that disallow the transfer of data between locations.

14:41 So the data protection has many, many aspects. You want it from the perspective of not losing it in full continuity. You want it from the perspective of not modifying it in creating– basically, you want to keep the validation, the validity of the data. And when you can access the data these days, it became an acronym for a theft. So for example, you make a transaction in a credit card. That transaction of the credit card can be– the information that is being transferred, if it’s not protected, can be stolen.

15:42 Now, people will talk differently about security, about data protection, about cybersecurity, about prevention of malicious activities. And think about the size of the data that we possess and the location and the regulation, then obviously, you have tremendous risks of multiple kinds. You have tremendous risk of continuity. You have tremendous risks on validity. You have tremendous risks of availability. So it is a major, major issue.

16:29 Now, some of the activities are pointwise. Some of the activities– and you asked me earlier about services– are integrated. Now, when you integrate– there are limitations that you put, many tools. And each one of the tools is accessing its own data and having a particular function. Now, you can have lots of data that can help improve your security and the other functions in different structures. So basically, the more you add, you end up going lower in the security level. And if you combine, say, the data or at least the data and the regulation you can share, and you can apply those functionalities on broader data, the level of risk that you present is far lower than the original level of risk. So by all means, the security and security operation and security management– because it’s not only about a particular component, you want to have end-to-end security– is very similar to what we discussed earlier when we were talking about modernization and migration. And you need to keep in mind that, sometimes, you want to have the ability to make decisions that are on geographically dispersed data, and to make a decision, and then, without anonymizing the data, you actually combine the information about the security to have a higher level of combined security.

18:28 At times, you don’t have to regulate the data, not because of geographic dispersion or privacy. And you can just sit on all the data with the full functionality. If today, you can integrate capabilities and give the service, then you reduce the risk for the individuals who are totally confused, because they get in the morning a call from the content distribution of their television content. They get in the afternoon a call from their telecom providers, their internet providers. And they want to be secure, but they don’t even understand whether what they respond to is adding up together. And we want to be able to facilitate it and to edit all that together. And that is something that today– for anything, for the compute, for the store, for the interconnect, for the management– which is very important, because we manage systems– we want to have combined security.

19:41 MARK SCHAEFER: And adding to that complexity, of course, is the internet of things and IoT. And you had done an interview where you had spoken about the number one hurdle for adoption for IoT was content awareness. Can you speak to that a little bit?

19:57 DR. ORNA BERRY: So I believe that IoT just distributes the wisdom of devices much broader. We talked about compute elements. So even if you do not store the information where you sense, for example, a cow. Connected cows is not a joke. It’s an actual mechanism to provide nutrition such that the cows are producing the best milk and the best type of milk. Because if you have a certain threshold for cheese-making, you want higher coagulation, it is much less hazardous to the environment, because you don’t have the water that is created in chemical processes of cheese production. And you have healthier cheese, because of the fact that it is a more natural process.

21:16 So if you just look at what happens, and you have thousands of herds and farms, and you have hundreds of countries, and you have different environmental conditions, in terms of temperature and nutrition, and you want to learn from everything in order to give the best nutrition, according to the weather, to your herds in order to produce the healthiest food and to have the minimal impact on the environment, they assume that you don’t want anyone playing with the parameters that are being transmitted and gathered in some places. Say, it’s the main learning process of preparing the nutrition. And you have a tremendous amount of information flowing. You don’t want to lose information.

22:20 So think about the amount of information where you have each cow producing, let’s say, 200 megabytes a year, which is a small amount. But with thousands of herds and thousands of cows in herds, it adds up to a lot. So you need to do distribution in order to do the reduction of the data. You need to protect the data. All of it, when you think about the complexity and the amount of data and the dependencies in order to come to valid decisions that are global and original decisions that are according to the environmental conditions, you have tremendous amounts. And if you need to protect it, how much overhead you want to put on it? If you would put 10% overhead on all of it, 10% cost of the systems, it might be 10% slower in the communication, variety of issues. So the problems must be broken up, such that you can deal with the incremental scale that we provide today with the digital infrastructure. You need to think about the problem, such that you minimize the overhead. And you minimize the overhead for security, and you minimize the overhead for computer, or for communication, or for store.

23:55 MARK SCHAEFER: I’m going to switch gears a little bit, because I know another great passion in your life is to work on this issue of women in technology. And Doug and I are both fathers of young women. So on behalf of us, first of all, I want to thank you for your work. I want to thank you for your leadership. And I read through a report that you worked on in 2003. Women in Industrial Research, a Wake Up Call for European Industry. And there was a phrase in there that just hit me really deeply. And it was the leaky pipeline. That at each part of the education process, of the professional process, the women were leaking through. The pipeline was leaking. And something about that phrase just really hit me hard.

24:51 So what’s changed? We’re now 15 years removed from this report. It was a bold report. It was a data-driven report. What’s the state today?

25:08 DR. ORNA BERRY: Not much has changed, because people are talking about stereotyping, and people are talking about co-active actions, but they really do not make an effort of looking at results. and unifying the approach. Women are still paid less than men. It’s not that being paid less than men, but also in terms of other economical conditions, be it from stock option plans and others– they are inferior. And the number of women in all the layers is sufficiently small, that in many places, women do not have the influence. They work harder in order to even communicate and to be heard and influence, even when they are experts. And it was analyzed economically. Until we see 30% in the boardroom, in the management, in the top management, and percolating all below– until we see that when a man and a woman receive a position, and being promoted at about the same rate, that their financial conditions in terms of employment are the same, we haven’t gone forward.

27:08 The issue of stereotyping is very, very important when you try to create an egalitarian regulatory environment, because unless you create a regulatory environment that is not based on stereotyping, it’s really making a best practice such that women and men can contribute. We’re going to be in a race for talent. We’re going to pay more for talent, and we’re going to have, always, insufficient first liners in expertise, because we avoided a significant part of the population. And given what I said in 2003, and what I rechecked in 2014, even though people think that women are accepted, it’s not really the case that they are listened and are given the opportunity the same as men.

28:28 And there are some societies– I’m talking about the Western society, which is reasonably more advanced. But in other societies, it’s way, even behind. I always look at personal examples. So my daughter, who is 27 years old– she is a mathematician. And when she was applying herself to science courses– when she was between seven and nine– I once came to pick her up, and I was then one of two director generals in the government, dealing with technology areas. The other one was in the Ministry of Defense. And she stands with her back to me. The advisor for the gifted programs is talking to her and is asking her don’t you feel strange that you are the only girl in the class? My heart sank, but she answered. She said I come to this class, not because of social reasons. I came because I was interested in the topic.

29:46 Fast forward, we’re talking 20 years ahead– my granddaughter. The teacher tells her mom– and her mom is a leading lawyer and has a sister who is the professors of chemical physics. She tells her mom, it’s very important that the girl will start being interested in humanities, because as a girl, she won’t be interested in sciences for a long time. Number one– number two, she is a great athlete. And the boys like her on their soccer team. And the teacher asks for somebody to be a judge. And in Hebrew, judge for female and judge for male are different. It’s [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] So the kids selected her to be the judge, because she is very level-headed.

30:43 The teacher says no, I asked for a judge– masculine, not a judge feminine. So we heard [INAUDIBLE], my daughter-in-law, and myself, and we were ready to go kill the teacher. She said no, no, no. I’m going to handle it myself, which she did. But this is because she is a fairly confident that she is really doing very well and understands the rules of the game very well. And she can play. But I think that a lot of girls coming from the uncertainty of what is their image, and what is their role, would back off when they are told something like that.

31:29 MARK SCHAEFER: So you had mentioned that you have a grandchild.

31:32 DR. ORNA BERRY: Four of them.

31:32 MARK SCHAEFER: Four, congratulations. What are you excited for, from a technology aspect, for those grandchildren?

31:40 DR. ORNA BERRY: Each one of them is very different– the kids of my eldest son and my central daughter’s kids. So the youngest of my central daughter’s kids is, all the time, assembling, disassembling, and researching a variety of issues. His older sister is always surprising me with her understanding of physics. So each one of them has a different angle, though very different. But what is wonderful to see is that they’re intrigued and genuinely interested. And I say that no– I cannot tell people what to do and what to be, how to become visible. But when people like what they do, they become visible. And it’s really a great pride to see how interested they are. And they all are, all four of them are very interested.

32:57 One comes to it from [INAUDIBLE] in Lego. One comes to it from an obstruction of the solar system and beyond. Each one of them comes from a different perspective. And talking about humanities, my other granddaughter says that she doesn’t like biblical studies, which are mandatory in schools in Israel. And she ended up getting the best grade in the class in biblical studies. But she still maintains that this is not something that she will pursue as a career. She’s just good, and she enjoys it.

33:46 My grandson got an award for– they got a list of books, and they needed to demonstrate how many books they read, and what is their understanding of the content. And he got the first prize. Also, I have another piece of pride that he got for his school– the award for leading in cybersecurity, whatever they learn. I don’t even know for young children what they do. So the curiosity exists, and apparently, brains as well. So it is a pleasure to see. And don’t skip my kids, because my kids are not so bad either.

34:36 MARK SCHAEFER: Well, as you sit in this Center of Excellence, and you look at this technology landscape that’s before you, what technology will impact your grandchildren the most going forward? What will have the biggest impact on their lives?

34:57 DR. ORNA BERRY: I think that from the computational usability, it’s about automation and virtual reality and augmented reality and all of that. From a research perspective, one of my grandkids said that he’s going to devote his life to finding a solution for cancer. So it’s using tools, it’s using computational data.

35:28 MARK SCHAEFER: And perhaps, virtual reality too and something like that.

35:32 DR. ORNA BERRY: Yeah.

35:34 MARK SCHAEFER: Well, Dr. Berry, this was such a delight. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been an honor and just so, really, inspirational listening to you today. And I know all of you have enjoyed this as well. Please tune in to our next episode of Luminaries. And if you get a chance, stop by iTunes and leave us a review. Let us know what you’re thinking about the show. This is Mark Schaefer, and on behalf of myself and Doug Karr, thank you so much for listening to us. We never take you for granted, and we’ll see you next time.


36:10 NARRATOR: Luminaries– talking to the brightest minds in tech, a podcast series from Dell Technologies.