Jenny Beazley – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services https://infocus.dellemc.com DELL EMC Global Services Blog Wed, 21 Feb 2018 14:18:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Dell EMC Services Podcasts Jenny Beazley – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services clean episodic Jenny Beazley – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services casey.may@emc.com casey.may@emc.com (Jenny Beazley – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services) Dell EMC Services Podcasts Jenny Beazley – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services /wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg https://infocus.dellemc.com The Search for Talented Data Experts: Advice for Managers / Hiring https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/search-talented-data-experts-advice-managers-hiring/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/search-talented-data-experts-advice-managers-hiring/#respond Wed, 14 Dec 2016 10:00:34 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=29665 In an earlier blog post, I discussed the skill sets necessary for an individual to stand out in today’s Big Data job market. But what if you’re the one actually responsible for attracting, identifying and retaining the best analytics and data science talent? In this blog, I want to share three steps companies should take […]

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In an earlier blog post, I discussed the skill sets necessary for an individual to stand out in today’s Big Data job market. But what if you’re the one actually responsible for attracting, identifying and retaining the best analytics and data science talent?

In this blog, I want to share three steps companies should take to ensure they have the right strategies and tools in place to secure the next generation of smart, savvy and data-driven employees.

  1. Attract: Innovative Organizational Culture.

If you expect to attract the best data talent from the Millennial or Generation X groups, then you need to make sure that your company’s culture aligns with their interests and expectations. These populations are seeking experiences and corporate values that are very different from previous generations and it is important that you are in-tune to this societal shift. To start, I would recommend you evaluate whether your company culture includes the following attributes:

  • Benefits with even more benefits. It is not enough to offer traditional 401K retirement matching and great health insurance. Today, the companies who are scooping up the best talent also offer additional perks that promote a more balanced lifestyle: free lunch; break rooms stocked with snacks and that invite social interaction and play during the work day (e.g. foosball); casual dress; remote work options; onsite fitness facilities; shared bicycle program to encourage more eco-friendly transit across the company’s campus; paid work days to volunteer with non-profit organizations… and the list goes on!
  • A place where titles don’t matter. Younger generations want to know that they’ll be valued and have room to advance. Google demonstrate this during the interview process, which involves meeting with your future direct reports. This approach sends a strong signal about the non-hierarchical nature of the organization and helps to measure the candidate’s ability to inspire others. By incorporating equality into the hiring process, it emphasizes that this organization values managing down just as much as managing up. Another method is multi-candidate interviewing: observing how your potential employees interact with each other can reveal a lot about how they’ll fit into your organization and knowledge share with their new peers.
  • Physical and mental space to promote innovation. Google is renowned for quirky office designs incorporating slides and non-traditional furniture and toys. The point is not to differentiate from regular office cubicles, but to inspire creativity amongst employees. Convinced this won’t fly in your traditional work environment? Not to worry! Provide a virtual space to share ideas, promote cross-functional collaboration and demonstrate executive commitment to innovation. At Dell, we host Data Visualization Summits to connect like-minded analytical individuals and run an annual Innovation Showcase to enable employees from any role and background to take a crack at solving specific organizational challenges. Your new hires will be reassured that this provides them with an opportunity to flex their creative muscles and develop essential networks to further their careers.
Data experts

Google Amsterdam – the ceiling panels are designed to look like stroopwafels – the quintessentially Dutch gooey waffle-cookie

Data Experts

Google office in Dublin offers a chance to take a break and unwind.. (and foster creativity!)

data experts

Pivotal Labs, part of the Dell Technologies family, creates a culture of collaboration for software engineers to innovate and design great products

A collaborative and dynamic culture will help to attract the talent you’re aiming for – see my previous article on building a culture of innovation, which starts with people.

2. Identify: Critical Thinking is Key

It may seem contradictory, but in order to identify the best technical experts, you actually should look for those people who strongly demonstrate a non-technical skill—critical thinking. The ability to think critically means questioning everything: Who provided the information? What’s their bias? What’s been omitted? How can this be improved? This approach is something companies should actively seek in analysts and data scientists because it is this ability to intelligently challenge the status quo that leads to innovation, and ultimately better outcomes for the business and customers.

data experts

And there are plenty of examples of why this skill is so high in-demand these days…

  • In a 2015 PwC survey of more than 1000 CEOs, Michael Dell was asked to name the one attribute leaders will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead. He responded: “I would place my bet on curiosity.”
  • Tableau Software–a leading data visualization company—states that they value critical thinking over technical knowledge, arguing that technical knowledge is far easier to teach than a natural analytical curiosity.
  • Forbes published an article last year, inspired by the innovative startup Slack Technologies, explaining that organizations hiring Liberal Arts majors and adding them to highly technical teams of computer programmers actually have more success by helping them “connect with end users and figure out what they want.”

So how do you uncover whether a potential candidate possesses strong critical thinking abilities? One suggestion is to use this interview technique to test and observe the candidate’s thought process. By asking business-oriented questions, such as “how could big data have prevented you from sitting here in this interview today?”, you can learn how the person approaches a problem and what type of data she thinks is important to consider in her analysis. Maybe they’ll dispute the accuracy of a traffic app in predicting the duration of their journey? Maybe they’ll claim a local coffee chain used consumer profiling to provide them with an offer they couldn’t refuse, and the subsequent detour delayed them? A creative question can provide a gauge for the candidate’s ability to think outside the box, awareness of cross-organizational data blending, and their ability to bridge the gap between data science and business requirements.

3. Retain: Career Opportunities

In order to retain your top data science talent, you need to keep them engaged and stretch their analytical muscles. A few examples of how I have seen this work effectively include:

  • Provide internal forums for employees to showcase their work and network with peers. The EMC Data Visualization Summit mentioned earlier is a great example of how analytics experts from across the company can share their projects with a broad audience.
  • Make sure you are utilizing your employee’s time in the most appropriate way. An experienced data scientist’s time should be spent diving into the data, not cleaning up data quality issues. To achieve this freedom, companies should invest in data governance programs that reduce data quality issues and minimize redundancies. It is also wise to enlist lower-skilled resources (interns, contractors, etc.) to manage time-consuming, but relatively simple data manipulation instead of your top experts.
  • Give your experts the chance to share their talents with external audiences across your industry. Personally, I have had the opportunity to present on rapid prototype development at the Tableau Conference and provide tips on how to start a career in data science and how to implement a big data strategy to drive a better customer experience with customers at our EMC World event in Las Vegas. All of these opportunities have allowed me to share my passion for data with others and learn how to be a better data story-teller and not just the person running the reports and crunching numbers in the background.
data experts

Jenny Beazley, Dr. Rex Martin Jr, & Kevin Roche, presenting on “Big Data, Big Deal!” at EMCWorld, Las Vegas, May 2016

Data Experts

Jenny Beazley & Steve Scales, presenting “Pizza, TV and Tableau: Thinking Outside the Box at Dell Technologies” at Tableau Conference, Austin, TX, November 2016

Data experts

Jenny Beazley & David Dionisio presenting on “Respect the Data”, EMCWorld, Las Vegas, May 2016

Summary

How can your company ensure its hiring practices are optimized for the digital world? An innovative culture, emphasis on critical thinking and engaging career opportunities are essential to attracting, identifying and retaining top talent.

Have your own tips? What’s your favorite “critical thinking” interview question? Add them below!

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3 Tips to Share, Promote and Celebrate the Customer Experience https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/3-tips-share-promote-celebrate-customer-experience/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/3-tips-share-promote-celebrate-customer-experience/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:11:43 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=29111 Today, October 5, Dell Technologies will join the industry-wide Customer Experience Day (#CXDay), a global celebration of the companies and professionals that create first-class experiences for their customers.  For the past two years, EMC has celebrated this day around the world and engaged thousands of team members and customers.  Now with our newly expanded Dell […]

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Today, October 5, Dell Technologies will join the industry-wide Customer Experience Day (#CXDay), a global celebration of the companies and professionals that create first-class experiences for their customers.  For the past two years, EMC has celebrated this day around the world and engaged thousands of team members and customers.  Now with our newly expanded Dell Technologies family, we are excited to reiterate the importance of our customer-centric culture and take this opportunity to thank the customers, partners and employees who make us what we are.

The fact that we have the opportunity to celebrate customer experience (CX) is fantastic. However, the challenge is how to take something like CX—which is really about an intangible feeling—and translate it into something relatable, consumable and engaging that can be shared at our 30+ onsite events happening around the world? Looking at best practices from other companies and drawing on our own experience at Dell, we have identified three key components to create those impactful CX engagement moments:

  1. Interactive and personalized visualizations / demos
  2. Use of cutting edge technology, such as Virtual Reality
  3. Connection to a larger “purpose”

Interactive and Personalized Visualizations / Demos

Just five years ago, interactive visualizations in everyday life were relatively rare.  In 2011, the New York Times were one of the few publications to have a dedicated data visualization and info design team.  These days, it’s commonplace for readers to be able to personalize a story by filtering graphics by something that’s meaningful to them, such as their own country, state, demographic or football team!

At Dell Technologies, we use data visualizations in our day-to-day roles to help us make sense of vast amounts of data and identify trends that impact customer satisfaction.  But visualizations are also powerful  tools to draw people in and spark conversations. We’ve leveraged interactive dashboards as a marketing tool to help make the content more relatable to users through the use of personalized filters, by product, geographic region or presenting data for a specific customer account. A sample of our proactive and predictive visualizations is available on our website and I described our path to develop this content  in a previous blog post about how to Start your Data Visualization Journey.

For our recent customer tradeshows, we wanted to showcase how customer feedback has directly impacted our products. So, we created an easy-to-use tool (the “Experience Customization Tool”) that allows the user to select their role and language and receive a customized output that shows the products they would be interested in and provides customer quotes in their preferred language.  The technical users who attended the 2016 EMC World event found this content to be extremel y informative and through providing tangible examples of how we utilize feedback, we were actually able to solicit additional feedback at the event so we can continue to drive improvements across the business!

A role-based tool allows technical customers to see how their feedback impacts major products.

A role-based tool allows technical customers to see how their feedback impacts major products.

Similarly, for our Dell CX Day events this year, we developed  the “CX at Work” tool—which provides employees with a “tour” through the Chief Customer Office Analytics and Intelligence team from the perspective of an account-based role (e.g. Sales), a product/technical role (e.g. Consulting, Support), and a shared services role (e.g. Marketing).  This shows employees how they can leverage the customer experience data and capabilities we have available and use it to deliver better business and customer results.

cx at work

A new tool created for CX Day shows employees how they can leverage customer experience data and capabilities to be more successful in their roles.

A new tool created for CX Day shows employees how they can leverage customer experience data and capabilities to be more successful in their roles.

 

Cutting Edge Technology

Virtual Reality (VR) is definitely “in” right now—you had the option to watch the Rio Olympic using VR goggles and health entrepreneurs are using it to help elderly and chronically-ill patients receive relief from their suffering—a story on NPR shared how “there are over 100 clinical research papers that are already published that show proven positive clinical outcomes using VR in managing chronic pain, anxiety and depression”.

VR allowed fans to watch the Rio Olympics and is provides needed relief to high-risk healthcare patients Image Credits: NBC Olympics & Samsug and Kara Platoni/KQED via NPR

VR allowed fans to watch the Rio Olympics and is provides needed relief to high-risk healthcare patients
Image Credits: NBC Olympics & Samsug and Kara Platoni/KQED via NPR

So why shouldn’t we at Dell use the same interest in VR to create a connection to our customer experience? Earlier this year, we created a VR video showing “the customer experience of the future”, which nudges today’s technology forwards by a few years.  For example, the customers in the video receive alerts on their wearable devices to confirm their systems are running smoothly, allowing them to enjoy an unprecedented work/life balance and participate in conference calls with a hologram account manager, seamlessly completing transactions.  When we showcased this VR simulation at EMC World in May 2016, it was the first time most of the attendees had worn a Virtual Reality headset, which held their interest as the talk track covered information on our CX listening posts, proactive methodologies and closed-loop process.

The Dell (formerly EMC) 360-degree virtual reality simulation helps inspire customers to image the future and share feedback on what they will expect from their technology vendor in the coming years

The Dell (formerly EMC) 360-degree virtual reality simulation helps inspire customers to image the future and share feedback on what they will expect from their technology vendor in the coming years

While Virtual Reality is cutting-edge today, like visualizations and infographics, it will become commonplace over the next few years.  Many universities now offer campus tours by virtual reality.  Realtors are jumping on board the bandwagon.  It’s even transforming education services, by enabling users to rack and stack virtual devices before they get their hands on the real equipment.  So what’s next?  Internet of Things?  Robots?  We know that we have to look for the next technology trend to engage our customers at future events!

emcworld

At the 2016 EMC World event, customers lined up to try out our CX virtual reality simulation.

Connection to a Larger Purpose

Finally, people are rallied together by a common purpose.  Dell Technologies recently released a video that explains how we create technologies that drive human progress.  We know our employees are passionate about making a difference by the time they “give back” to community projects and those less fortunate.

A Dell video shows how our technology enables human progress

A Dell video shows how our technology enables human progress

During our CX Day celebrations this week, we’ve identified customers to engage with our teams and illuminate how their work is contributing to the wider world.  For example, last year at our Seattle event, we brought in a representative from a leading photography organization that depends on our technology to bring stories from the front lines of war zones and natural disasters to international news outlets.  Photographers may be working in circumstances with only short windows of power or connectivity, so it’s essential our systems are reliable when time is so sensitive and availability is critical. Understanding real-life use-cases helped put the role of technical support personnel into the context of this bigger picture, making the connection between their day-to-day roles and their contribution to global reporting.  Our customer participated in a panel discussion talking about what makes or breaks the relationship with a technology vendor and what they’re doing in their organization to deliver a superior experience to their own customers.

In addition, we’ve invited a special celebrity guest—a famous professional sports star—to speak at our live virtual event (taking place today at 2 pm EST). One reason we chose this particular athlete is given his incredible commitment to supporting charities—he is known for granting the most wishes in Make-A-Wish Foundation history, fulfilling “wish” experiences to children with life-threatening medical conditions.  It’s this sentiment that inspires and delights our teams.

retweet

We also make an effort to celebrate the individual and team impact of customer experience improvements.  We run an internal CX Awards program, open to all employees, where we recognize customer-focused projects from across the company, reviewed and judged by our senior leadership team.

In Summary

So here at Dell Technologies, we are all looking forward to the CX Day 2016 celebrations. We know that by creating interactive and personalized visualizations / demos, using cutting edge technology and showing how CX can connect to a larger purpose, we will once again excite and delight our customers and employees. I hope to learn how you create engagement around your CX efforts—please leave your comments below!

Join the Dell CX Day live virtual event—today, October 5 at 2 pm EST!

  • Customers and Executive speakers
  • Tours of interactive CX-focused demos
  • Special presentation by our celebrity guest, who will talk about how he delivers a memorable experience to his millions of global fans.

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The Search for Talented Data Experts: Advice for Job Seekers https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/search-talented-data-experts-advice-job-seekers/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/search-talented-data-experts-advice-job-seekers/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:00:54 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=27344 Changes in technology and automation have drastically altered the employment market, with both positive and negative consequences. Considering the capability to work remotely using a secure private network, candidates are now competing on a global level, meaning individuals need to do more to stand out and organizations have access to a wider pool of talent. […]

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Changes in technology and automation have drastically altered the employment market, with both positive and negative consequences. Considering the capability to work remotely using a secure private network, candidates are now competing on a global level, meaning individuals need to do more to stand out and organizations have access to a wider pool of talent.

If you’re a jobseeker with a mathematical or statistical background, the good news is that analytics is everywhere, from grocery stores to hospitals to finance! Traditional business intelligence (“BI”) yields just 80% return on investment, versus a 250% ROI for predictive analytics (Source: Gartner Research), which makes data science (typically inclusive of a mix of business, math and psychology disciplines) a hot commodity.

So how can you, as an individual, ensure you’re well prepared for the job market of the future? And how does your company ensure its hiring practices are optimized for the digital world? This two-part series will spell out what’s important from both sides of the employment fence.

Fact Source: Gartner Research

Fact Source: Gartner Research

As a prospective employee, I would recommend you consider the following three tips to help you stand out from the crowd and get the recognition and job offers you want and deserve.

  1. Network – actually use your NETWORK to NETWORK!
  2. Enhance your online reputation and brand
  3. Embrace your data development as a lifelong learning journey
Fellow customer experience enthusiast and data geek, David Dionisio, and myself know the pain of trying to get noticed for our data skills! Image Source: Playbuzz.com

Fellow customer experience enthusiast and data geek, David Dionisio, and myself know the pain of trying to get noticed for our data skills!
Image Source: Playbuzz.com

Network (and actually use your NETWORK to NETWORK!)

How many times have you heard “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? There’s a reason for that! Put yourself in the shoes of a hot technology company…who receive thousands of resumes every day, forcing them to use systems to automatically filter the resumes that make the shortlist (side note: a really smart data scientist probably built that filtering system for them).

Getting a personal introduction to the hiring manager can make or break your opportunity to be invited for an initial interview. Does this sound easier said than done? You’d be surprised! Take a look through your LinkedIn profile. There are probably direct and indirect connections to more organizations than you realized. But, what if there’s not?

Ideally, you are interested in working in a field that you’re passionate about. Chances are that other people are passionate about this too. Local “Meetups” in your city or town are a great way to build a network amongst like-minded peers and be inspired by each other. Search for your closest city and keywords such as “Data Scientist”, “Big Data Developers” or “Predictive Analytics” (another side note: the slogan of “Meetups” is “find your people”…I mean you have to love that!).

Enhance your online reputation and brand

As an extension to networking, social media now plays a huge part in building your online profile. Your resume and references can be made readily available online, validating your skill set and background. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that you’re adding those connections from Meetups. Leverage other options, such as Twitter, to remain visible to your target audience and develop your personal brand as a passionate data guru based on who you follow and what you retweet.

There is also an opportunity to showcase your amazing data work through free and highly visible online platforms. For example, Tableau Public allows you to post data visualizations to your personal profile (you can view mine here). And the great thing is that what you show doesn’t even have to be a work-related project…some of the most popular visualizations of 2015 are based on publicly available sports statistics and how the weather impacts flights!

tableau_publicdashboards

Two of the top 5 Tableau Public dashboards of 2015
Image Source: https://public.tableau.com/s/blog/2016/01/readers-choice-top-5-vizzes-2015

With analytics being so prolific across every organization and industry, you can volunteer your time and expertise to non-profit organizations to build experience and case studies to showcase your skills, from something as simple as running an online survey and visualizing the results, to something as complex as building a propensity to donate model based on census information, Google Public and CRM records. Non-profits are also a fantastic way to hone one of the most important skills in data science: how to translate analytical results in a way that helps business users make better decisions. This is an invaluable skill which is becoming increasingly important in the digital world to bridge the gap between business and data science. Plus, helping a non-profit is not only the right thing to do, but it is also a great differentiator for your resume to show that you are committed to giving back—something that many employers value and are looking for in building a more well-rounded and socially-minded company culture.

My personal profile on the Tableau Public site allows me to share data visualizations I have worked on for work and for fun!

My personal profile on the Tableau Public site allows me to share data visualizations I have worked on for work and for fun!

Embrace your data development as a lifelong learning journey

Even if you have the formal training or certifications that are required to get your foot in the door as a data analyst or scientist, I firmly believe that education shouldn’t finish simply because you have completed your official studies. To keep your competitive edge and to fuel your intellectual curiosity, it’s healthy and important to stay informed about the latest data topics and trends. Use your social media feeds to follow diverse and well-known publications, such as the Harvard Business Review, Wired Magazine and TechCrunch.

You can also take advantage of no-commitment online curriculums, such as MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), edX, Big Data University and Coursera, to develop your knowledge on the latest Open Source tools, such as R, Python and D3.

money money

And if you really want to put your data skills to the test, you can enter an online data science competition, such as those offered by Kaggle. If you succeed in this arena, you can not only win some pretty serious cash prizes, but also show employers that you have what it takes to solve some of the most complex data challenges faced by the world’s top companies.

jenny7

Summary

In today’s job market, it’s more important than ever to differentiate yourself. A combination of networking, enhancing your online reputation, and continuous development can help you keep one step ahead. Most importantly, you need to perfect the art of presenting analytic results and recommendations in way that’s meaningful to business users, helping them transform data into insight and subsequent action.

Have tips on personal development and keeping yourself relevant for tomorrow’s job market? Leave a comment below.

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How to Build a Culture of Innovation: Part 3 – Technology https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/how-to-build-a-culture-of-innovation-part-3-technology/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/how-to-build-a-culture-of-innovation-part-3-technology/#respond Mon, 21 Dec 2015 15:30:09 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=25609 This is the final segment of the 3-part blog series on how to build a culture of innovation. We’ve touched on why investing in people and establishing strong processes are essential. Today, we focus on technology. It’s impossible to ignore the impact of technology on innovation when you consider how cloud computing, big data, mobile […]

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This is the final segment of the 3-part blog series on how to build a culture of innovation. We’ve touched on why investing in people and establishing strong processes are essential. Today, we focus on technology.

It’s impossible to ignore the impact of technology on innovation when you consider how cloud computing, big data, mobile and social media are transforming almost every aspect of our lives. Think back a decade or two, to a scenario where you booked a hotel by phone, asked the concierge for restaurant recommendations within walking distance and relied on a printed map to navigate there.  Today, your complete booking and check-in experience are completed in a matter of clicks from your smart phone. You can source dinner recommendations from friends on social media, or harness the power of an app using search criteria within a specific distance of your current location, which is detected automatically. You may navigate there using your smart phone’s GPS, or Uber – the world’s largest taxi service despite the fact that they don’t own any vehicles.  The world is changing!

There is no question that advances in technology are influencing the customer experience. Companies need to be aware of this shift and address it to stay ahead of the competition.

So how can you differentiate your business through technology? Focus on three key areas:

  • Look beyond your own data
  • Empower users
  • Create a stage for collaboration

Look Beyond Your Own Data

With options across private, semi-private and public clouds, it’s now easier than ever to share data, which can lead to deeper insights by combining disparate sources.  Earlier this year, EMC ran the worldwide big data analytics competition, “The Math behind the Morecambe Missile”, to determine what makes EMC-sponsored rider John McGuinness so fast using a combination of machine data collected from sensors on the motorbike and biometric data.  In the fascinating results, competition entrants discovered that John’s heart rate remained steady until the last few moments of the race, despite the challenging course with sharp turns, allowing him to make the best decisions throughout the course to minimize risk.

Consider applying the lessons from McGuinness’ performance to everyday life…we already have auto insurance companies that provide apps to recommend and reward good driving behavior.  How much better could they be at identifying and suggesting safer habits if they were paired with biometric data from your wearable fitness device?  At EMC, we’re partnering with our suppliers to get better metadata on product components and environmental factors, which help us to understand optimal operating conditions and predict or prevent premature failures.

bikes

EMC applies a combination of machine data collected from sensors on the motorbike and biometric data to monitor and drive improvements for professional driver, John McGuinness.

Empower Users

Technology allows us to leverage the vast pool of talent across the globe, putting opportunity in the hands of the people who are most knowledgeable about their area of the business, whether that’s in the data they collect, the challenges they face, or their local culture.  In 2013, a Californian non-profit printed a prosthetic limb for a Sudanese boy using a solar powered 3D printer for a fraction of the normal cost.  This technology empowered the local community in Sudan to drive and scale further medical innovation without expensive overhead costs or investment

3d_print

3D printing technology provides access and hope for young people in Sudan. Image source: ADWEEK, 2014.

Similarly, we’re seeing Business Intelligence (BI) power shift from traditional IT into the hands of the business users.  Newer, more intuitive BI tools don’t require a significant training overhead and are already incorporating statistical modelling to help identify correlations, themes, trends and outliers.  Users across the business can access self-service tools to prepare data for analysis in a timely manner and identify opportunities for continuous improvement (click here to see an example of how EMC teams leverage data visualizations to improve the experience).

tce_dashboard

EMC has developed robust data visualizations, which bring together data from internal and external sources, to identify key customer trends and pain points.

The benefit of empowering users also applies to product innovation. In October 2015, EMC’s Greenplum massively parallel processing (MPP) data warehouse went Open Source, reducing the barrier of entry to large-scale real-time data analytics, enabling more companies to tackle big data challenges.  Open Source is a better way to deliver and transform how the world builds software, resulting in improved security, quality, flexibility and interoperability of our products.

Create a Stage for Collaboration

Hackathons have emerged as a collaborative environment to solve issues. They may be based around some kind of challenge for social improvement, such as DementiaHack, which is dedicated to improving the lives of people living with dementia and their caregivers, or to drive company improvements, such as the creation of Facebook’s “Like” button.

At EMC, we host an annual innovation contest to harvest the best ideas from across the company.  This event incorporates not only employee participation, but also partners, customers, universities, industry associations and other external stakeholders.  We identify a series of business challenges and invite candidates to propose solutions.  Judges determine which ideas move forward to incubation and potential implementation into production.  This is a great way to spark the creation and delivery of high-value ideas that accelerate change and drive progress.

roadmap

Summary

Building a culture of innovation relies upon a combination of best practices across people, process and technology.  When it comes to people, you must actively solicit diversity, encourage experimentation by rewarding risk, and recognize and engage with creative thinkers.  Process involves taking a non-linear approach to discovery, ideation and testing, iterating through each phase as many times as necessary.  Technology will fuel innovation when you enable opportunities by looking beyond your own data, empower users through democratization of data and open source software, and create a stage for collaboration.  By embracing and activating all three of these elements, you will be on your way to a sustainable and vibrant culture of innovation!

This is how we (at EMC) ensure we stay ahead of the innovation curve.  How do you do it?

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How to Build a Culture of Innovation: Part 2 – Process https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/how-to-build-a-culture-of-innovation-part-2-process/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/how-to-build-a-culture-of-innovation-part-2-process/#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2015 13:00:11 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=25418 In this 3-part blog series, I have been sharing what it takes to build an effective culture of innovation.  In my last blog, I talked about why companies need to invest in their people to drive innovation. The focus today is on why process is important. One of the industry leaders in outlining how to […]

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In this 3-part blog series, I have been sharing what it takes to build an effective culture of innovation.  In my last blog, I talked about why companies need to invest in their people to drive innovation. The focus today is on why process is important.

One of the industry leaders in outlining how to implement an effective process is Lenati. It uses design thinking to help businesses make stronger connections with their customers and recommends a non-linear model of building blocks to structure the process in the form of discovery, ideation and testing. Lenati’s agile model allows organizations to easily shift focus from place to place, depending on the needs of the customer and internal teams.

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Image Source: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ENGINEERING EXPERIENCES, DESIGN THINKING AND CX, Lenati LLC, 2014

So, let’s talk about each of these building blocks and how utilizing them can lead to customer-centric innovation.

DISCOVERY

Most organizations begin their process of innovation by defining a challenge or issue that needs to be solved, but this is not the only way to identify new opportunities.  Sometimes innovation happens without even thinking about it (e.g. In part 1 of this series, I referred to innovations that were the result of accidents, such as penicillin and microwave technology).  It also occurs when you simply take time to listen to customer feedback.

For example, one of EMC’s largest Asia-based customers expressed the need for better visibility into customer service activity across its multiple sites. Interestingly, the customer shared an example of a Comcast TV guide and asked the EMC team if it was possible to create something similar to show a real-time view of field service activity with the ability to drill-down on a specific area to learn more.

Source: Comcast

Image Source: Comcast

 

IDEATION

Customer feedback was critical for EMC to work through the discovery phase and then move on to ideation—according to Lenati, this is the time to ask questions and develop hypotheses to test.

Now we understood the desired customer outcome (a simple and real-time view of service activity). But, how would we actually achieve this using our internal operational data? EMC had already implemented a scheduling system to track the progress of field service engineers using their mobile devices. Internally, we use these metrics to help predict how long activities will take and measure productivity. However, we had not considered sharing this same data with our customers to help manage their service expectations. This is when the real creativity kicked into high gear.

The Comcast example shared by the customer was a great place to start. However, we also wanted to take inspiration from best practices across all industries—in our brainstorming, the Domino’s Tracker (pizza delivery) seemed to closely parallel what EMC customers were seeking.  When ordering a pizza online, the Domino’s website displays a bar indicating the current status, tracking updates from when the order is placed, prepared, baked, quality checked, and out for delivery.  It even notifies the user of who to expect and when:  e.g. “John is delivering your pizza, estimated arrival time is 6 pm”.  This essentially mirrors EMC service activities in terms of the field engineer travelling, arriving at the customer site, starting work and completing the job.

dominos

Image Source: Dominos

 

TESTING

One good idea doesn’t equate to innovation.  It needs to be cultivated, transformed into a scalable working prototype, and further enhanced by an iterative process of customer feedback and alterations (revisiting discovery and ideation).  To address the needs of our Asia customer, we developed a prototype—the “Onsite Service Tracker” – to provide a customizable view of all service activity. Customers can drill down by individual site, specific service request or understand what is expected to take place on a given day. The tracker integrates the real-time mobile data from field engineers so customers can see the exact progress of their EMC representative.

The feedback from the Asia customer has been tremendous—the team is impressed with EMC’s ability to take what was a simple idea and translate it into something tangible to help them manage their business operations. By building this for the needs of the individual customer, but also designing it to work for the larger customer base, we have created a sustainable way to increase transparency and trust. EMC’s emphasis on testing continues as we prepare for an enhanced version of the prototype to be released to customers through our online support system in 2016.

The EMC Onsite Service Tracker provides a real-time view of field service activity to help customers manage business operations.

The EMC Onsite Service Tracker provides a real-time view of field service activity to help customers manage business operations.

 

SUMMARY

To achieve the innovation your company and customers expect, you must create the right foundational processes to help you succeed. The most effective process approach will allow for fluid movement between discovery, ideation and testing. The combination of a disciplined approach with the openness to look beyond traditional examples is what will lead to the best outcomes for your customers. At EMC, what started as a simple idea based on a TV guide has transformed into a completely different and improved way to ensure we are exceeding customer expectations during their service experience (interact with the prototype and Customer Experience dashboards online).

What does your innovation process involve?  Have ideas about how else we can improve?  Leave a comment below.

 

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How to Build a Culture of Innovation: Part 1 – People https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/build-culture-innovation-part-1-people/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/build-culture-innovation-part-1-people/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 16:32:26 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=25289 Technology is transforming the way we do business and the rate of change is accelerating—it took only a few years for half of the U.S. population to adopt smart phones versus nearly 50 years for landline phones. And we are inundated with countless examples of changes that may have been impossible to envision a couple […]

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Technology is transforming the way we do business and the rate of change is accelerating—it took only a few years for half of the U.S. population to adopt smart phones versus nearly 50 years for landline phones. And we are inundated with countless examples of changes that may have been impossible to envision a couple of decades ago, such as: packages delivered by drone, thermostats that communicate with smoke detectors to reduce danger, and prosthetic limbs that surpass human capability.

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Image Source: Harvard Business Review, November 2013

If you expect your business to stay ahead, you cannot afford to wait and see what happenswhen you compare the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 to those that appear in 2014, only 61 companies appear on both lists…this means only 12% of companies still remain at the top!

So, how can your organization keep up with the rapid pace of change? My advice: build a culture of innovation! In the coming weeks, I will share what it takes to develop an effective culture through a 3-part blog series. Today, I want to start with the first focus area—people.

Why are people key to innovation?

  • Highly engaged employees are 3x as likely to do something good for the company (Source: Temkin Group, 2015)
  • 50% of highly engaged employees are likely to make a recommendation for improvement versus 17% of their disgruntled peers (Source: Temkin Group, 2015)

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From my personal experience, I have witnessed the impact of what passionate people can mean for a company’s success. This was especially evident to me on a recent trip to the EMC Egypt Center of Excellence (COE) in Cairo. The main thing that struck me about the Cairo team is its culture of innovation. In trying to understand why the team has been so successful, I identified three key people-centric factors that explain its leadership.

Where should you focus your efforts?

1. Diversity

A Forbes study identifies workforce diversity and inclusion as a key driver of internal innovation and business growth. Diversity encompasses different perspectives, experiences, cultures, genders and age. Although research and experience indicates that diversity is important to business success, the technology industry continues to face difficulty in broadening how its talent base looks and thinks—Facebook, Apple and Google fare low when it comes to hiring women and many of the largest companies are comprised of mainly white and Asian employees. On the contrary, the Egypt COE’s strong innovation reputation can be attributed to its strong diversity emphasis—it has one of the best gender diversity ratios of all EMC offices, with strong female representation in technical and managerial roles. Given Egypt’s colonial history with the English, French, Italian, etc. it also is reflects tremendous global cultural influence (including many multi-lingual speakers). Furthermore, with several different functional teams (e.g. engineering, R&D, customer support) in the same location, cross-pollination of ideas and skills is more likely to occur—employees who move to a new functional group have a unique ability to suggest improvements between departments by better understanding challenges from the perspective of both sides.

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Top technology companies are struggling to build diverse talent, especially when it comes to gender and race/ethnicity. Chart Source: Fast Company 2015

2. Risk Acceptance

Not every idea can or should come to fruition. However, it is still essential to create an environment where employees feel comfortable to share ideas. Just because a decision is made not to pursue a given project, it doesn’t mean there was no value in exploring the suggestion. Perhaps it inspired a further idea that was implemented (don’t forget that microwave ovens and the discovery of penicillin were the result of accidents!). Organizations with a successful culture of innovation embrace failure and leverage this as an opportunity to learn and improve. Throughout my week in Cairo, I met with team members at all levels of the organization who were excited to share their proposals for new projects. The team has democratized innovation by developing a practice where employees can voice their ideas regardless of their hierarchical position or tenure with the company.

3. Recognition and Engagement

Creative thinking and collaboration must be encouraged and rewarded. Senior leaders must set the tone for organizations and provide opportunities to celebrate employees and their innovative projects. In Egypt, there is no question that taking time to recognize employee innovation is a fundamental part of the culture. Employee awards and live demonstrations were major aspects of the Egypt team’s Total Customer Experience Global Celebration.

The innovative spirit I experienced in Cairo is the culmination of a concerted effort to strengthen the culture over recent years. The impact is noticeable today and it has been clear for several years:

“In less than two years, the employees in Egypt have built a local innovation program which is as mature as any that I’ve seen within the company. They submit more ideas per capita than any geography, and increased their employee idea submission ratio by four times year over year”

– Steve Todd, EMC Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, 2013

Summary:

If you expect your business to be around 50 years from now, you must invest in a culture of innovation. And this investment starts with a focus on your people. Successful companies will find ways to keep employees engaged, encourage experimentation, and actively solicit diversity. I hope to hear your ideas on what other people-centric strategies are working in your organization in the comments below.

 

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Start Your Data Visualization Journey https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/data-visualization-journey/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/jennybeazley/data-visualization-journey/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2015 17:48:51 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=24635 Around this time last year I was working on something now known as the Experience Analytics Showcase: a website focused around telling the customer experience story through data visualization.  A year later we are redesigning the showcase in preparation for the Total Customer Experience Global Celebration and I’m reflecting on how much we’ve learned in […]

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TCE Cloud Dashboard - InFocusAround this time last year I was working on something now known as the Experience Analytics Showcase: a website focused around telling the customer experience story through data visualization.  A year later we are redesigning the showcase in preparation for the Total Customer Experience Global Celebration and I’m reflecting on how much we’ve learned in that time.  This year’s theme is redefining your experience in the digital world.  It is right in line with our company wide efforts including data visualization.

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The old adage says “a picture paints a thousand words”.  The human eye can process and interpret vast volumes of data far more quickly in a visual format, helping to piece together a story.  At EMC, we use Data Visualization to transform data into insight and help drive action to continuously improve our customer’s experience.  This technique can be leveraged by any company with organized data to enhance their understanding and execution.  In fact, there are tons of resources within the wider global Data Visualization community, who share innovative ideas and best practices.  In this spirit, I want to share what we have learned about cultivating a successful Data Visualization ecosystem within EMC’s Total Customer Experience group.

Grab Their Attention: There is no place better than an industry event to get your stakeholders attention. We first started leveraging data visualizations at EMC World in 2014.  The Total Customer Experience booth was considerably smaller than most but it still garnered more traffic than many.  Customers, partners, and even employees enjoyed the transparency of seeing customer experience data in an easily consumable format.  They also appreciate knowing EMC is taking their feedback seriously and looking at it in new ways.  Executives recognized the success and we were off.

Sock finds Tableau logical

At EMC World 2015 Spock finds the “Experience Analytics Bridge ” intriguing.

 

Organizing Your Data:

data Gov

A clearly defined path to data governance saves time and resources.

Of course there were some growing pains to work through.  The 80|20 rule applies to data science: In many of our projects, analysts were spending 80% of their cycles manipulating data into a consumable format and 20% of their time building the actual visualization to derive insights.  At EMC, we recognized this challenge and took a number of steps to address it, including:

  • Creating a Big Data Lake so that disparate data sources are available from a single location
  • Introducing a Data Governance system to catalogue available data, lineage and ownership
  • Providing data sets with some element of pre-processing, which standardized calculations and helped to eliminate duplication of efforts
  • Investing in tools that simplify data blending and analytics while simultaneously documenting the process

 Community: Sharing best practices is key because there are hundreds of options on how to display your data.  At EMC, we established internal Data Visualization Summits as an opportunity for data analysts, data scientists, dashboard designers and data enthusiasts to get together on a periodic basis and showcase their work, obtain training, exchange ideas and build networks.  Participants share real-life examples of using data visualization tools, such as Tableau, to help our business teams make data driven decisions faster.  Since our first conference in 2013, the interest in this event has grown exponentially.  The planning team is made up of representatives from different business groups and our vendors to drive variety and cross-pollination with different business units.  In addition, we hold bi-weekly WebEx sessions with key vendors to share product features and use cases to ensure knowledge remains current.  Finally, we created an internal “Analytics Enablement Center” site that centralizes content related to Data Visualization and Analytics – a one-stop-shop showcasing upcoming events and training opportunities, use cases, success stories, templates and best practices.

DataGov

Storytelling3

 

Presentation: Interactive visualizations are becoming commonplace in online newspapers and websites.  The great part about this is users are becoming more familiar with consuming data in this format.  However, as a developer, it’s important to remember to keep your audience in mind.  Sometimes the visuals alone aren’t sufficient to tell the story or users can be distracted by anomalies in the data.  Cole Nussbaumer, a recent presenter at one of our internal Data Visualization Summits, publishes an excellent blog highlighting common pitfalls and advanced techniques to tell a compelling story with data.  At EMC, data governance stewards help ensure data has been used in the correct context and we frequently partner with Marketing teams to fine-tune our dashboards to ensure the message is clear – a method that has proven successful in our Experience Analytics Showcase, EMC World dashboards, and TCE Celebration visualizations.

TCE Cloud Dashboard - InFocus

Data Scientist, Akia Obas, explains the Total Customer Experience cloud dashboard which highlights customer sentiment and expectation around cloud technology

 

If you’re interested in starting your own Data Visualization Project, check out these links:

At EMC, our journey continues.  We are constantly evolving and excited to continue sharing examples of how we leverage big data to drive continuous improvement to your customer experience with us.

If you have questions or would like to share your experiences, leave them in the comments below.

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