Episode 1 of the first season of the "Your DataOps Advantage" podcast series by Hitachi Vantara! In this episode podcast host, Bill Schmarzo (our CTO of IoT and Analytics) sits down with Renée Lahti (our CIO) and Jonathan Martin (our CMO) to hear their story about the moment of epiphany that led Hitachi Vantara down the path of DataOps and Digital Value Enablement. Together, they confess their data sins, the strong partnership they've built, how the digital value enablement process can drive cultural change and the upcoming Digital Envisioning Workshop. Listen up—it's time to have an epiphany of your own!
Bill Schmarzo is regarded as one of the top Digital Transformation influencers on Big Data and Data Science. His career spans over 30 years in data warehousing, BI and advanced analytics. As the current CTO, Analytics and IoT for Hitachi Vantara, "The Dean of Big Data" guides the company's technology strategy and drives "co-creation" efforts with select customers to leverage IoT and analytics to power digital transformation.
Renée Lahti develops and implements information technology (IT) initiatives that align with Hitachi Vantara's mission. She leads the transformation of the Hitachi Vantara IT group from a conventional organization with many operational silos to a dynamic, agile team that efficiently focuses on business outcomes. Today, the IT group is an organization of cross-functional teams that include business and IT functions to work together using iterative, agile sprints.
Jonathan Martin is responsible for the global strategy and execution of all aspects of Hitachi Vantara's marketing efforts. Self-described as a career CMO, Jonathan's passion is to drive a progressive approach to B2B marketing at the intersection of metrics and magic where creativity and data work together.
Hello, welcome to the Hitachi Vantara DataOps advantage podcast. My name is Bill Schmarzo and I'm the chief technology officer of IOT and analytics here at Hitachi Vantara. The DataOps advantage podcasts is going to track the trials and tribulations of different organizations of different sizes across different industries as they wrestle with how do you get value from your data. What we're going to do is we're going to talk to these organizations about how they're leveraging DataOps to uncover value in their data and help them to figure out how to drive return on their data investments.
Hello and welcome to episode one of the DataOps advantage podcast series. Today I've got with me, I have Renée Lahti who is our CIO chief information officer here at Hitachi Vantara and Jonathan Martin, our chief marketing officer. Today we're going to talk about what happened. What was the impetus for driving down this digital value enablement process? What were the things that we made this thing such an important step for us and particular how Renée really sort of came to this moment of epiphany that something different needed to be done? Renée?
Tell us about the moment of epiphany when you realized you had, you'd made a big investment, you decided to build a data lake and it wasn't going the right direction. When did you, when did you know first know that things weren't quite going the right way? Cause a lot of our customers are faced with that same dilemma.
So first we built a data lake. Since we're Hitachi Vantara and we test everything ourselves before we sell it. So the data lake was really part of our Lumada solution practice. So we built it internally to see how it would work and just data, all that good stuff. So we did that and gave great feedback on what worked, how do we enhance it and make it awesome for our customers. But then there we had it now what we do with it. So I think it's add data. Right, right. So you start to add data, you find the little silos of data around the company, which every company has. They confess, everyone confesses their sins. I have my little data, I have my little data repository, load it all in there. And then somehow the epiphany was somehow the magic was supposed to happen. Like, you know, money was falling on the floor. We mined it for big nuggets of gold. But the challenge was we didn't know what we were looking for. You didn't really have a context for what to go after. And then I heard your speech at our a Gcom event and said, okay, we have a process, a framework, a workshop to do this cause our customers have this problem, let's do it ourselves. Let's go figure out a single thing to go after data for a business reason to monetize it for something. And then the something really was my buddy in crime here which was what he just described at EMC. It's like, look, I don't want to be in a position not to leverage data as a CMO. So that's a great introduction. A friendly for me to invite to the party.
Excellent. Jonathan, what did you think when Renée first approached you about this endeavour?
So I was, I was super excited. I'm like, I can't actually really remember exactly when we, but I do remember we had, I've only been here like a few months, but I do remember in the early days having a number of conversations around my mission being dependent and that's dependent really in all the worst uses of the, of the word on data. I cannot deliver my mission as the growth catalysts for the organization without having gobs of data at my fingertips. And the things like the buyer's journey is just becoming too complex for human minds to, to be able to model their machine learning problems. And I need access not just to our data, but access to third party data, access to telemetry data, the ability to get my arms around data and figure out customer buying behaviour.
When we run these projects with our clients, we look for people like you, to people who have passion and vision and aspirations, who have, who can bring an energy to this because it's, it's a cultural change challenge for organizations. Standing up is not the problem. It's the cultural change. Renée, tell me how you thought about what your project could do to help drive cultural change with respect to how the organization should be leveraging data and analytics.
Sure. So as we said, we had this, you know, technology solutions platform up and running. Maybe wasn't perfect, up and running, but what we had a need for was the data and getting people to unpry their fingers off of their little repository of data that's on a server under their desk, all that data, puddles, all the data puddles. There's a server that has ketchup spilled on it from, you know, on an up burger, you know, event, whatever, that's their data or it's in a closet or confessing their sins that they have it to convincing them that it's our data and you put it together, it's way more powerful to help solve big hairy business problems. It's a culture and you know, it's a culture shift. It's my data. It's like no, it's our company data and put it all together, way more powerful. And that's, that's here. And here.
Did you run into resistance?
Well, not with my buddy here. Like he says he needs gobs and gobs of data at his fingertips and it's from all sources. It's disparate both structured and unstructured. So it was a really easy conversation with Jonathan and his team, but some of the others, yeah, I mean you have, I don't want to get my finance data and there's concerns about HR data for privacy reasons. So you have to do it all thoughtfully and securely. But yeah, absolutely. And we're still doing tug-o-wars, but I think our use case and what will be an output that's valuable will be the one that uh, that kind of gets everyone else on board.
Excellent. Coming into the workshop, Jonathan, what were your expectations for what would happen at the workshop? What from your perspective, what would good look like?
So we've done a ton of interviews or maybe, maybe rightly, I should say you guys have done tons of interviews I think almost a hundred interviews last couple of weeks. And out of those loads of interviews came loads and loads of use cases. And I think the, you go through a process like this, you like unleash the creativity of the organization. And we ended up with a lot of use cases. I think they were a lot of distinct use cases. And so the first thing that for me is really getting alignment on what's the priority. We like that they're all great use cases. We need to do all of them, but we can't boil the ocean and we need start somewhere. And so what, what is the use case that we are gonna pick? So getting priority and then secondly like as Renée said, using data from across the organization, getting alignment across the organization on that being the right use case and actually the right first use case is the second thing that I hope we come out with.
Excellent. Renée, what were your fears looking at, you have more, more time than both Jonathan and I do here at the company. What were your fears and bringing this diverse group of people with such strong opinions together into one process, one room, what did, what is, what's your fear as you get into running this workshop?
Well, it's a cross functional team as Jonathan mentioned and everyone has their perspective and their siloed data. So and their world, all I needed is someone else's data in their puddle. Right? And so the expectation is I'm going to get all my, all the stuff I need over here and then I can solve the big war world hunger, hairy problems for me. And that's the, if that's the expectation going in, then I think people are going to feel disappointed and unsatisfied with what we're going to do. And, or the flip side is it's a, we're going to solve every possible problem, all the scenarios, all the interviews, all resulted in hundreds of use cases and everyone's thinking this workshop's gonna solve all of those. Both of those are going to be challenging.
That's a good point. Yes,
it's, it's a, it's a challenge because the interviews basically stalk people up. And so the question, next question I have is how, how do we think, how do you both think we're going to have to manage the user exuberance versus the IT pragmatism? So we got people really excited about what could we, what the realm of the possible is. How are we going to manage that balance between that enthusiasm versus a pragmatism?
I would say I've just, you know, encouraged that we, we pace ourselves and we're going to learn, this is a pilot is the first one we've done. We're going to learn a lot the first time around. There's going to be so many things as we get into the data that we are just completely unaware of, unprepared for. Um, and so I think just focusing on it being, being a pilot, going through a learning experience and focus on the learning and the collaboration and the organization is really the, the priorities and we'll get some great output out of for sure. But I guess my coaching would just be to pace ourselves. Let's do a small number of things really, really well rather than a lot of things covered averagely. Is that even a word? Is that even a word? It is now. It's on our podcast, so now I do. Yeah. It is now part of our lingo.
Yes. So I, I'm kind of briefing on that a little bit. I'd say that, um, you know, stay focused to whatever we figure out as a priority. Everyone has to align. They don't have to agree, they have to align and then don't get caught up in the white noise. Well, what about this? If we just had that, no, there's going to be this very discreet framework and we stay focused to that and when we start to feel ourselves drift, you look back at the principles that we set out as group aligned and stay focused on it and then we can go to the next one. The good news is we have a whole list of stuff to go through, but one at a time.
Then maybe just riff on that as well. I think like having a clear idea of like how you gonna prioritize and the frameworks that you're gonna use to prioritize. Maybe even having multiple frameworks to kind of help prioritize and get down to the final solution.
Probably super important thing for us, it's, these are hard decisions, but we finally work with clients is it's hard to make that what's, where are we going to start? Because there's, there's more opportunities than there than there not right there. In fact, organizations don't fail because of lack of opportunities. They fail because they have too many. So that trade off decision will require at some point in time probably executive presence to make that tiebreaker decision cause we're going to have two or three use cases. I would expect when you get to the workshop they're going to be so close together. They tease them apart is going to be hard and you're, and that's where I believe leadership from the both of you are going to be really critical in helping the team to understand, this is the right one to go after because of the following reasons. And as you said, Renée get people even if they disagree. To commit totally.
That's all right. I think, I mean it's the look them in the eyes and as we leave with the alignment that we have, we need the entire group to say, Yup, this is, this is what we're going to go do in this room and outside this room. And as leaders we have to do that.
Totally. And not be disappointed at, hey, like my use case didn't get picked or I'm not, you know, I'm not important because I wasn't first. Right. Like, they're all important. They're all, you know, looking through the content yesterday. Super, super important for us to get to all of them. It's just a prioritization and you know, in a scope of the project and everything else, like which one are we going to go do first?
I'm sorry. Sorry. As we get ready for the workshop, the thing I'm most concerned about and I see across a lot, again a lot of clients is the passive aggressive behaviour where people in the room nod their heads and the minute they walk out they cross their arms. And so I think that as we, as I go through the workshop tomorrow or whenever it is right, that we do a good job of making sure that everybody is brought into the process, that everybody understands what their role is and they can disagree but they have to commit totally.
They can speak up, they have a voice and then they leave the room all aligned.
Great. So, so tell me Renée more about the impetus for doing this ourselves. I mean, what, why do we believe this is something that we need to do ourselves and how do we go about telling the world about what's good and bad and ugly about it?
Well, I think it's important. Um, everyone needs a framework, whether it's, you know, project management, you know, to get a project off the ground and go live and operationalize it. And we're saying, what do we do with our data? How do we create some framework or methodology to go after? The hypothesis is there's lots of valuable stuff in there. What do we do with that? How do we go after it? And I think going through this workshop, is going to help us stay focused. It's also going to give us a journey very much like a project. It's going to be this journey map, except this is a journey map we're going to be over and over and over repeating as part of the journey and really into DevOps or sorry, DataOps. Yup. So once you get to data operations, I mean this is going to be our new world order of the power of technology platforms with, with partners in the business.
Yup. Thank you. Now, Jonathan, you came up with a creative name of champagne. Tell me more about why you thought champagne was kind of the, the right message for us internally and why our customers should want to hear about this.
So, we've been kind of driving under Renée's leadership for a long time, a whole bunch of initiatives around kind of running Hitachi Vantara on Hitachi Vantara. So what, what may be known in the bay area as dogfooding. But that's really quite a horrible visual and I think in pictures, so we think of it more as kind of drinking our own champagne. And so the project became known as project champagne. Obviously, we're doing this at a very cost-effective manner. So a code name has been project Prosecco, I think at times. The official name is project champagne.
Excellent. All of our customers are wrestling with the same challenge. They've built data lakes, they've got this, all these data assets, they have these silos of data, people not collaborating well and they obviously have countless numbers of use cases like wins against which to compare this. So I think the, the story that's going on here for us and how we're leveraging this digital value enablement process will be very interesting to our customers. How do we plan on getting that word out?
Well, I've already done a blog on, you know, any, any customer of ours or any customer buying solutions should ask their vendor, do you run it yourself? Do you do it yourself? And this falls right into that same category. Hitachi, Vantara runs on Hitachi Vantara and it gives us integrity and transparency with our customers to say we did it, here's our results. The good, the bad, the ugly, the journey. We're here to help you do the same.
Okay. Yup. And then, you know, rolling forward as you go into the year, we have a conference on the 8th through the 10th of October called NEXT is the first smart conference for data pioneers. We are going to be celebrating all things DataOps there and we're going to be telling this story on stage.
Excellent. Well sounds like it's going to be a great event and customers will be interested to hear, like you said, both the successes and the failures. These projects go sideways like an episode maybe of a movie like Star Wars, high points and low points in it. So, I'm sure that our audience will be interested in and they'll sit in their seats wanting to hear more details about the journey we went through and how we survived it.
So thanks to Renée and Jonathan for sharing with us sort of their expectations for what's going to happen in this workshop for sharing more with us about the journey that they're on. This project Champagne journey and being willing to share with our audience, with our customers, the good, the bad and the ugly in his process.
I talked to a lot of customers; they're facing a lot of the same challenges. They have all of these data assets, they have these analytic capabilities and they have a bountiful number of use cases and they can't seem to get any value out of them. Our journey, hopefully it will give our customers a, a roadmap, a guide for how they can think about attacking this problem, leveraging our digital value enablement process. Because at end of the day, if we can't make data analytics effective for our end users, we can't drive business value with our data and analytics. Why bother? So we'll see you in episode two.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast and you certainly want to come back to the next one as we talk again to more organizations about how they're leveraging dataOps to drive value out of their data. If you want to learn more about a Hitachi Vantara, track us on Twitter at the @HitachiVantara or if you want to follow me, follow me at @Schmarzo. I'm the only one on Twitter. Thanks for your time. Until next time, cheers.
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