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Bill Schmarzo img

Bill Schmarzo

Author, Professor, Innovator, Corporate Advisor – Data Science & Monetization

A pragmatic hands-on leader. Experienced in establishing, nurturing, and empowering Data Science and Value Engineering teams. Customer-facing. Developed a Value Engineering methodology to drive customer collaboration and organizational alignment where data and analytics can have material impact. Value focused. Called the “Dean of Big Data,” he brings a business-first approach to helping organizations leverage data and analytics. Drives data monetization. Uniquely blended Design Thinking with Data Science to create a “Rapid exploration, rapid testing, failure-empowering, continuously-learning” data science development methodology that enables the monetization of the insights buried in the data. Influencer and innovator. Recognized as an industry leader in Big Data, Data Science, Design Thinking and Data Monetization. Professor and Educator. Developed and taught the “Big Data MBA” a course for integrating data and analytics into the operations of the business. Also lectures to numerous universities and organizations worldwide. Author. Wrote 4 books and published over 350 industry-leading articles and educational videos on the application of Big Data, Data Science, AI / ML and IoT to drive data monetization and digital transformation.

What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?

I have always been an analytics person.  Started in my youth with my infatuation with the Strat-o-matic baseball game, sort of a precursor to sabermetrics.  Playing in sports, I quickly learned that if I had better insights into my opponents, that it gave me an advantage on the courts (like ~80% of missed basketball shots go long).  So, it was very natural for me to want to apply those same analytics to real-life problems in retail, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, manufacturing, etc.

What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?

My 40-year personal journey in trying to quantify the value of data, which has culminated in my latest book (“Economics of Data, Analytics, and Digital Transformation”) and continued research into data and analytics as modern-day economic assets (including new economic concepts like Nanoeconomics and the Marginal Propensity to Re-use).  Yea, I’m trying to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics!!

What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?

  1. Lack of business stakeholder involvement in developing an organization’s data and analytics strategy.  Organizations don’t need a data and analytics strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates data and analytics.
  2. Misconception that data is a technology by-product from the operational systems versus an economic asset that will fuel the economic growth of the 21st century.
  3. How poorly organizations define what it is they are trying to accomplish with their data and the resulting the chasm between the value generation and technology enablement parts of the organization.

How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?

Data Management, particularly the role of the Chief Data & Analytics Officer, must transition from a technology role (like that of the Chief Information Officer or the Chief Technology Officer) into a business leadership role (like that of the Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Operating Officer).

Do you have any planned next steps for your career?

Watch this space!  I have a couple of very cool ideas that I am pursuing.  And if I’m successful, they will make data literacy, critical thinking, and AI ethics accessible to everyone, no matter their profession of choice.

What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far?  Why has it been so important to you?

Don’t be afraid to “unlearn” – to toss aside what you may have held as gospel, but later realized that may have been what has been holding you back.

Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?

Two-time college All-American basketball player at Coe College (Cedar Rapids, IA) while at the same time playing lead trumpet in the Coe College Jazz Band.  And yes, graduated with honors.  So, yes, you can excel by integrating the left and right sides of your brain!

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